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What’s the big deal?: naturalisation and the politics of desire

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2013
<mark>Journal</mark>Citizenship Studies
Issue number6-7
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)697-711
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date7/05/13
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article takes the naturalisation process as avantage point from which to consider how citizenship constitutes a site of emotional investment not only on the part of applicants and ‘new’ citizens, but also on the part of the state. The premise of this article is that naturalisation is more than solely the admission of foreigners to the position and rights of citizenship, and it approaches naturalisation as a state practice that needs to be understood within a politics of desire. The article asks three questions: What makes naturalisation a thinkable and desirable means of acquiring citizenship? Second, what do practices of naturalisation tell us about ‘the state’s attachment to particular embodiments of desirable citizens’ (Somerville 2005: 661)? Third, ‘who may desire the state’s desire’ (Butler 2002: 22)? Using policy documents and auto-ethnographic material, the article examines practices through which the state selects its own objects of desire and produces them as citizens, while it also produces itself as desirable. The article concludes that naturalisation distinguishes desirable from less desirable citizens through fantasies of English proficiency and birthright citizenship. In addition, the staged performance of the citizenship ceremony assures the state of its desirability by subsuming ‘as if’ enactments of citizenship.