Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Economic Geography; Economic and Political Geography; Human Geography; Local Government; Political Geography; Politics and Development


The aim of this paper is to evaluate the changing relationships between identities, citizenship and the state in the context of globalisation. We first examine the ways in which scholars discuss changes in the ways in which citizenship and political identity are expressed in the context of international migration. We argue that much of the discussion of transnationalism and diaspora cling to an assumption that citizenship remains an important—though not defining—element of identity. Our position, by contrast, is that migration is one of a number of processes that transform the relationship between citizenship and identity. More specifically, we argue that it is possible to claim identity as a citizen of a country without claiming an identity as 'belonging to' or 'being of' that country, thus breaking the assumed congruity between citizenship, state and nation. We explore this possibility through a study of Arab immigrants in the US. Our findings, based on interviews with activists and an analysis of Arab American websites, suggest that concerns with both homeland and national integration are closely related to each other and may simultaneously inform immigrants' political activism. These findings indicate a need to identify multiple axes of political identification and territorial attachment that shape immigrants' sense of political membership. We argue for the importance of thinking about transnationalism as a process—and perhaps a strategy—as migrants negotiate the complex politics of citizenship and identity.


© 2004 by Taylor and Francis

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