What some have dubbed 'the new world disorder' of the early 21st century has forced the human and social sciences to re-examine a number of their concepts and theories. One such concept is citizenship. The twin challenges of globalisation and cultural diversity have unsettled such seemingly central assumptions as the primacy of the nation-state and the relative cohesion of its citizenry. It has thus become necessary to rethink what it means to be a citizen, at a local, national, or global level, and to ask what civil, political, social, and cultural rights may be gained, or lost, in the rush toward a globalised world. At the extreme and apocalyptic end of the recent critical debate, the nation-state has been declared to be 'on its last legs'; and citizenship, along with other traditional notions of national, cultural, or ethnic belonging, deemed to have been replaced by decentred and deterritorialised modes of existence in a border-free, postmodern universe. Such views have in their turn been challenged bu scholars arguing that the nation-state is the only arena for any viable form of democratic citizenship. Relatively few contemporary theorists (and none of the contributors to this book) fully embrace either extreme of this debate:visions of an ungrounded postmodern utopis (or dystopia), or prepolitical notions of cultural or national belonging. Even so, less uncompromising constructions of contemporary dilemmas still point to fundamental shifts in our understanding of how individuals and communities negotiate their place in the world at local, national, and transnational levels, at the same time destabilising and multiplying our sites of belonging. One of the consequences of these shifts, as this book demonstrates, is that they force us to rethink the rights, obligations, and allegiances associated with notions of citizenship.
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