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Inclusive Citizenship and the Calling of Transformations

Ananta Kumar Giri

Edited by Naila Kabeer
Zubaan, Delhi, 2005, pp. 274, Rs. 350.00

VOLUME XXX NUMBER 9 September 2006

Realization of creative possiblities in citizenship is an imporant part of the emancipatory politics of modernity but citizenship in itself as it is tied to the bounded logic of the nation-state in modernity is as much exclusionary as it is emancipatory. The story of citizenship in the modern world is thus a story of struggle to expand its realm to include previously excluded groups—slaves, women, and varieties of racial, religous, ethnic and colonized others. Now this project of expansion is also confronted with a challenge of foundational deepening and broadening, for example, realizing citizenship not only as a political project but also as a multidimensional project of being and social becoming—political, moral and spiritual.   The present book offers an invitation to some new horizons of citizenship. This emerges in Naila Kabeer´s insightful introduction, and several contributions, especially that of Evelina Dagnino. In her article on Brazil, “‘We all have rights, but’: Contesting Concepts of Citizenship in Brazil” Dagnino tells us how the struggle for citizenship is a “struggle for a new sociability”: “a more egalitarian framework of social relations at all levels; new rules for living together in society and for the negotiation of conflict; a new sense of public order and public responsibility; a new social contract” (p. 154). It also means that “the recognition of rights should not only regulate relations between the state and the individual, but has to be established within society itself, as the parameter governing social relations at all levels. Such a political strategy implies moral and intellectual reform, a fresh process of social learning, a building of a new kind of social relations. This implies the constitution of citizens as active social subjects. For society as a whole, it requires learning to live on different terms with these emergent citizens who refuse to remain in the place socially and culturally defined for them” (pp. 154-155; emphases added).   In her introduction to the volume Naila Kabeer who teaches at the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex and is noted for her work on gender, education and development elaborates different values and meanings of inclusive citizenship in the context of empirical work on these issues in different parts of the world: England, India, Bangladesh, South Africa, Brazil, Nigeria, and Mexico. For her, “a great deal of the theoretical debate about citizenship today is taking place in an ‘empirical void’ where the views and perspectives ...

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