Understood as the status of permanent belonging in a nation-state, citizenship is the legal mechanism through which people claim rights in a territory and define their relationship to its government. In liberal states like the United States, citizenship is often said to function independently of race, ability, gender, or sexuality. Schoolchildren in the United States are generally told that all are equal before the law, even as their teachers may tacitly acknowledge that laws have changed with regard to reproductive rights, property ownership, inheritance, and other entitlements of citizenship. US students learn early on that citizenship was initially restricted to white men but that changing attitudes and new legal protections made it available to everyone. By contrast, scholars in fields like ethnic, gender, LGBTQ, disability, and migration studies have shown that access to US citizenship and its benefits continue to be distributed unequally in ways that mirror ongoing patterns of discrimination (Berlant 1997; Carey 2009; Day 2016; Minich 2014; Molina 2014; M. Ngai 2004). Additionally, scholars of Native studies have shown that state citizenship for Indigenous peoples has been experienced as what Kevin Bruyneel calls “a direct colonial imposition, worthy of resistance and refusal” (2007, xxiii). The institution of citizenship...

This essay may be found on page 51 of the printed volume.

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