Race, ethnicité, peuples autochtones et politique



L12(b) - Racialized Modes of Citizenship and Democratic Participation

Date: Jun 13 | Heure: 12:00pm to 01:30pm | Salle:

Chair/Président/Présidente : William Barclay (Carleton University)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Dennis Pilon (York University)

Identity, Nationalism, and 'Citizenship Backsliding': Reflections from Changing Citizenship Patterns in India in the Last Decade: Suvolaxmi Dutta Choudhury (McGill University)
Abstract: Scholars of political science might agree that citizenship rights even in democratic states are conditioned in some ways by race, religion, etc. Many argue that legal guarantees of equality are not enough, and that ‘second-class’ citizenship exists, mainly on indicators of socio-economic wellbeing. However, legal equality among citizens is mostly taken for granted; ‘legal citizenship’ is treated as a good that all citizens possess equally: guaranteed by the law and embodied in passports or nationality certificates. Nevertheless, we see instances of the law retreating from its mandate of equal protection, as in case of thousands of people declared ‘foreigners’ by Foreigners’ Tribunals in the Indian state of Assam. Questions of Bengali Muslims being targeted, of impartiality, and due process in the functioning of these tribunals are well documented. Therefore, the question is why legal/constitutional guarantees of equality do not preclude ‘citizenship backsliding’. Here, ‘citizenship backsliding’ refers to the erosion of principles of inclusion in the citizenship compact due to arbitrary factors based on racialized or religious identity. In the present research, it is measured by exclusionary changes in citizenship policies and practices. The tendency to think about India in the last decade has been to presume ‘citizenship backsliding’ as a product of democratic decline or a Hindu-nationalist party being in power. However, citizenship rights do not depend entirely on the political regime or nature of party in power because these factors do not explain why courts, which are by and large independent and apolitical, also ‘play along’? The paper argues that that ‘citizenship backsliding’ is driven by the nature of dominant nationalist discourses. This implies that discursive construction of who is a legitimate member of society has a bearing on policies and practices. The research lies within an interpretivist framework and combines historical process tracing with critical discourse analysis as methodologies. The data sources include archival documents, interviews, media reports, and case law.


Empire, Race, and Connected Histories of Democratization: Emerson Murray (Northwestern University)
Abstract: The nation-state has long been privileged as the unit of analysis in political science research on democratization. My paper problematizes this tendency, otherwise known as methodological nationalism, in the context of recent moves in the field to "return to history" (Capoccia and Ziblatt 2010) and revisit the "first wave" of democratization in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I argue that the methodological nationalism of much democratization research, including that which has emerged as part of the field's 'historical turn,' has led to the recurring misrepresentation of many ‘first-wave’ European democracies as nation-states rather than imperial states, obscuring the prevalence of autocratic racial rule in their territories beyond Europe. I suggest, moreover, that recentring the imperial character of early European democracies – such that they appear more akin to conventionally recognized 'herrenvolk' democracies like Apartheid South Africa, albeit on a transcontinental scale – may complicate dominant geographic and temporal assumptions about the historical rise of modern liberal democracy itself. Building on efforts in postcolonial and global historical sociology to advance “connected histories” of modernity, I propose that historical democratization research should attend more closely to the co-constitution of liberal democracy between the West and non-West as opposed to presuming its linear diffusion from the former to the latter. To illustrate what a ‘connected histories’ approach to democratization would entail, I examine the intra-imperial political contests over citizenship, suffrage, and representation that unfolded during the "federal moment" of the post-war French Empire.


The Exclusionary Politics of Personal Equality and Indigenous People within the International Political System: William Barclay (Carleton University; Political Theorist and Consultant; League for Human Rights)
Abstract: Prior to ‘The Enlightenment’, classical philosophers and political thought considered all people to be different, diverse, and unequal. However, during ‘The Enlightenment’, the forebears of the modern political era and contemporary political thought began to proclaim that all people were, in fact, quintessentially equal, and to predicate every human’s political rights and liberties upon their literal personal equality. Moreover, since ‘The Enlightenment’, the international community has remained transfixed with 'personal equality, and, as a result, throughout the modern era, 'personal equality' has become veritably enshrined as a rudiment of the current international political system and essential to any appropriate contemporary political discourse. Unfortunately, although the overwhelming majority of post-Enlightenment political thought adamantly reiterates that all people are literally equal, and, that, as a result, every state must necessarily provide each of its citizens with identical political rights, it is readily apparent that the aforementioned pseudo-principles are demonstrably false, as well as heinously detrimental to the human security of all Indigenous citizens within every state. Rather, the annals of human history emphatically confirm that, if Indigenous people within the international community are only accorded with their political rights as a consequence of their literal personal equality, or because they overwhelmingly adhere to a prototypical settler-citizen archetype, then states throughout the international political system will inevitably attempt to leverage any personal inequality that even inadvertently exists within Indigenous populations, in order to 'justifiably' oppress, abuse, and 'Other’ Indigenous people throughout the international political system, and separate them from their fundamental political rights.


Diasporic Differences: Examining the Determinants of Political Participation Amongst South Asian-Canadian Voters: Rupinder Liddar (McGill University)
Abstract: As most marginalized groups struggle to attain adequate political representation in Parliament, Sikh-Canadians have swiftly achieved more than double their proportion of the population. This is further demonstrated by Jagmeet Singh, the first visible minority leader of a major federal political party. To date, the existing research studying the political attitudes of visible minorities in Canada seldom isolates South Asian-Canadian political attitudes, let alone that of Sikh-Canadians. Due to their demonstrated electoral success, it is imperative to understand the factors that motivate Sikhs to engage in Canadian federal politics. Using the Canadian Electoral Studies from 2019 and 2021, this paper examines Sikh-Canadians, in comparison to other, well-represented South Asian groups to isolate the factors that mobilize Sikh- (n=248), Muslim- (n=313) and Hindu- (n=440) Canadians to politically participate in federal elections. Political engagement is operationalized through voter turnout which will be explored through the determinants of citizenship, age, socioeconomic status, religiosity, civic duty, and civic engagement. The results point towards social networks as a key determinant for Sikh-Canadian voter turnout. It will be argued that Sikhs foster civic networks at places of religious worship where Sikh temples (gurdwaras) act as sites of political participation, engagement, and congregation. Finally, this examination of Sikh-Canadian political behaviour contributes to a broader understanding of historically understudied and politically important minority groups in Canadian politics. This paper concludes with a call for Canadian election surveys to be conducted in non-English languages to obtain a comprehensive look at the political behaviours of immigrant and visible minority groups.


A unified theory of secession, unification, and sorting: local and national cases from Canada and the United States: Lawrence Anderson (University of Wisconsin-Whitewater)
Abstract: Secession, unification, and sorting fit together naturally: all are responses to some perception of suboptimality in the policy-making environment; all are instances of moving the boundaries of a polity or moving people into or out of a polity. In secession, the size of the government territory is made smaller; in unification, the size of the polity is made larger; in sorting, the population in one polity is made larger and the population of another is made smaller. In all instances, the rationale behind the choice might be the same: escaping lock-in, evading discriminatory redistribution, achieving greater economies of scale, etc. This paper explores secession, unification, and sorting as functionally equivalent, different means of the same goal: policy optimization. Most of the existing literature on secession and unification explores these policies in the national context, where new state boundaries are drawn and old state boundaries are revised. With respect to sorting, much of the analysis is at the local or regional level. Why do groups seek to secede or unify? Why do individuals seek to move from one polity to another? What prompts the desire for change? What happens to the new political units created and the old political units left behind? Secession, unification, and sorting at the local and national levels are similar enough in form, context, origin, and impact to those instances taking place at the local level to allow for fruitful comparison and deeper understanding. This paper will explore cases of secession, unification, and sorting in the US and Canada.