Cities and Citizenship
Holston and Atjun
Why cities? Why citizenship? Since the eighteenth century, one of the de-
fining marks of modernity has been the use of two linked concepts of
association-citizenship and nationality-to establisl1 the meaning of full
membership in society. Citizenship rather than subjectship or kinship or
cults hip has defined the prerogatives and encumbrances of that member-
ship, and the nation-state rather than the neighborhood or the city or the
region established its scope. What it means to be a member of society in
many areas of the world came to be understood, to a significant degree, in
terms of what it means to be a rights-bearing citizen of a territorial nation-
state. Undeniably, this historical development has been both revolutionary
and democratic, even as it has also been conservative and exclusionary. On
the one hand, for persons deemed eligible, nation-states have sought to
establish citizenship as that identity which subordinates and coordinates
all other identities-of religion, estate, family, gender, ethnicity, region,
and the like-to its framework of a uniform body of law. Overwhelming
other titles with its universal citoyen, citizenship thus erodes local hier-
archies, statuses, and privileges in favor of national jurisdictions and con-
tractual relations based in principle on an equality of rights. On the other
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