Monday, March 4, 2013

David Cook-Martín's "The Scramble for Citizens"

David Cook-Martín is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Grinnell College. His work as a political sociologist focuses on race, ethnicity, law, and citizenship. Cook-Martín recently completed a manuscript with David FitzGerald that examines the rise and fall of formal ethnic distinctions in immigration and nationality policies of the Americas since 1790 (Culling the Masses: The Democratic Origins of Racist Immigration Policy in the Americas). He’ll pay special attention to where p. 99 of that book falls in the final proofs.

Cook-Martín applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Scramble for Citizens: Dual Nationality and State Competition for Immigrants, and reported the following:
A century ago people understood dual nationality as so disloyal to an individual’s nation that that legal scholars compared it to bigamy. Today, an estimated 2.5 billion people live in countries that allow dual nationality. The number has quintupled since 1960. Having two passports is especially common in Europe, but is becoming more so in the Americas and in Asia. How did this shift happen? Why does dual nationality exist and what does it mean for citizenship today? The first two chapters of The Scramble for Citizens explore how the competition between three countries for the same immigrants over a hundred year period resulted in policies that in law or practice allow for dual nationality today.

Page 99 passes the Ford Madox Ford test because it reveals the critical question of the book: what does dual nationality means for citizenship today? In a nutshell, it depends who you ask. Legal scholars tell us that citizenship in another country is more valuable than ever in a world of growing socioeconomic and political inequalities because it is a mechanism of wealth transmission, and passport into the halls of plenty. A counterpoint is that from the perspective of wealthy countries like the United States, everyone’s citizenship has become devalued because more people have access to it or to statuses like permanent residence, which has similar benefits to full citizenship. Beginning on page 99, I argue for a grounded response to the question of citizenship’s meaning as a way to extend studies far removed from the experience of key actors:
In this chapter, I rely on the perspectives of aspiring and actual dual nationals to study how they assess the value of citizenship in word and deed. My analysis here centers on what happens at the level of nationality law on the ground, or what sociologist Kitty Calavita (2010, 3, 113) has called “real law.” In this sense it is distinct from the work of other experts on citizenship, who generally focus on the level of formal laws. The case of Argentines with a second nationality option is especially apt because it captures in a single trajectory privileged and less privileged perspectives on citizenship…
The granular approach to how nationality law and procedures work shows the variable worth of citizenship or why it can be judged as both critical to people’s lives and as less valuable, even in an individual’s life course.
Learn more about The Scramble for Citizens at the Stanford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue