(P20)
Gradated citizenship, degraded humanity and the cultural specificity of rights practice
Location A4-004
Date and Start Time 05 Dec, 2018 at 11:15
Sessions 1

Convenor

  • Robin Rodd (James Cook University) email

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Short abstract

The panel seeks to comparatively explore the gradation and degradation of citizenship within nation states. We will focus on how cultural values and practices legitimize or discourage citizenship inequalities by facilitating legislative changes that reconstitute the order of citizenship.

Long abstract

As a conferred status, citizenship is commonly imagined as a binary; one is either a citizen or not. However, citizenship is better understood as a spectrum of rights and opportunities to participate in public life, and is neither historically stable nor equally experienced. Citizenship excludes through differential inclusion and offers protection to some, while failing to safeguard the rights and wellbeing of others (Balibar 2017). The legal and cultural terrain on which the status and practice of citizenship rest are constantly shifting. While much has been written about the precarity of statelessness and migration (McNevin 2011, Gundogdu 2015), less has been written about the ways that precarity is experienced by citizens. Citizenship is gradated rather than universal, and in extreme cases its degradation can lead to legalized genocide. The inequalities of citizenship sustain histories of colonialism and racism, while ongoing states of emergency, new technologies of surveillance and in/security, and savage neoliberalism erode the legitimacy of old rights and the capacity to claim new ones.

This panel seeks to create a forum for comparatively examining the cultural specificity of rights and the gradation and degradation of citizenship within states. We pose the central question of how cultural values and practices legitimize or discourage citizenship inequalities and facilitate the legislative changes that reconstitute citizenship within nation states, for example by rolling back or introducing new rights. Moreover, we seek to understand how such changes produce new precarities of life and how these affect the everyday realities of citizens.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Emergency art, memory museums and the banality of evil

Author: Robin Rodd (James Cook University) email
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Short abstract

The thoughtlessness and conformity constitutive of the banality of evil are systemic, dispersed, and defy easy representation. This paper considers memory museum exhibits and works of 'emergency art' as possibilities for representing or arresting the banalisation of rights, death and suffering.

Long abstract

Arendt coined the term 'banality of evil' to explain how the horrors of Nazi Germany were made possible by people going about their everyday business while thoughtlessly obeying the law. In a thoroughgoing elaboration on Arendt's insights, Forti traces a genealogy of 'mediocre demons' to the 'absolutization of life' and the 'desire for servitude' (Forti 2015:314). Forti argues that a Christian duality of good and evil prevents appreciation of the ways that participation in the reproduction of suffering is dispersed through social relations and norms. Normalised evil results from a web of constraints that are either culturally valued or tolerated because they are considered obvious, unchangeable, or not worthy of thinking about. Banality lends itself to dispersed pleasures, generality over specificity, the everyday over the momentous, but not to villains and victims, monuments or memorialisation. The systemic and dispersed nature of normalised evil makes it elusive and difficult to represent. In a world marked by the fading of old democracies and the emergence of new authoritarianisms, however, it is urgent to understand how conformity, suffering and thoughtlessness are normalised. What processes of (de-)subjectification prepare people to be complicit in authoritarian rule, genocide and other forms of violence? How can the systemic and everyday nature of normalised evil be represented so that it can be drawn into public debate? I consider memory museum exhibits and works of art that disclose what Zabala (2017) refers to as 'the essential emergency', that emergency has become normalised, as possibilities for representing and arresting the banalization of rights, suffering and life.

Reconsidering precarity: an intersectional examination of precarity in the wake of Australian asylum-seeker policy

Author: Hanne Worsoe (University of Queensland) email
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Short abstract

To what extent can the concept “precarity” adequately account for diverse experiences of asylum-seeking people in Australia? With policy in constant flux and a limited appeals process, this paper considers asylum-seeking women’s experiences facing “fast-track” processing.

Long abstract

From 2012, over thirty-thousand boat-arriving asylum-seeking people have existed on temporary visas in Australia. Over ninety-percent are not in detention but still exist in Australian communities in a state of precarity: legally, temporally and economically.

Issued temporary visas, all have signed behaviour contracts upon pain of refoulement, denying access to procedural justice. Subsequent legislation regarding boat-arriving asylum-seeking people has excised international human rights obligations and further procedural justice practices. Children born in Australia to boat-arriving asylum-seekers are also labelled "illegal maritime arrivals", issued temporary visas rather than birth certificates. Most recently, payments received in lieu of finding work are being withdrawn, and work rights for those appealing negative refugee claims are rescinded.

Constantly reminded of their mode of arrival, boat-arriving asylum-seeking people are not defined as active agents seeking their own human rights recognition but instead constructed through policy as transgressors of Australian sovereignty, having crossed borders without state permission.

However intersectional analysis indicates that these uniform policies affect people in diverse ways. Through recent multi-sited ethnography conducted with asylum-seeking women and the organisations and individuals supporting them, I observe how such policy diversely affects women, who form 20% of this cohort. State-enforced Australian regimes of confinement enforce precarity in many unforeseen ways for asylum-seeking women, different from their male counterparts.

Therefore, analytical concepts such as "precarity", while highlighting inequality, can obscure the effects of state intentionalities which create diverse forms of precarity when people fall between the gaps of regular laws and rights.

Securitisation of urban landscape in Dhaka: precarity, elitisation, and the emergence of graded sovereignty

Author: Mohammad Tareq Hasan (University of Dhaka) email
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Short abstract

Through a process of securitisation the spectrum of rights and opportunities to sustain life and to access public/state infrastructures and facilities are continually being skewed in Dhaka. It reflects that the state is being graded into sovereign entities.

Long abstract

In Dhaka, just opposite to the Embassies of the USA and China, G4S security services - the world's largest security company has its local head office, the building is covered with a huge sticker announcing 'securing your world'. The emphasis of 'security' has been a major concern for the urban middle and upper classes as the city is growing since 1990s. The process of securitisation got a rapid momentum due to the Holey Artisan attack in early 2016. The increased security arrangements of urban pockets led towards reconfiguration of the urban landscape that could be termed as 'elitisation' of certain locale as well as of private and public infrastructures. While Bangladesh has been going through reconfiguration of urban landscape; amidst rapid growth of GDP, urbanisation and increased informal jobs were the salient features of the ever growing cityscapes. The securitisation and the resultant elitisation is thus creating uncertainty and inequality, plunging the semi-formal/informal workers into precariousness in Dhaka. I, therefore, argue that the securitisation of the city has important implications for how we understand sovereignty and state in relation to the citizens of the country. The spectrum of rights and opportunities to sustain life and to access public/state infrastructures and facilities are continually being skewed while having a promise of inclusive citizenship. On the other hand, this means that the state is being graded into smaller sovereign entities.

Weathering powers, weathered bodies: an examination of disability and 'ecological ableism' in the era of climate change

Author: Zsuzsanna Ihar (University of Sydney) email
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Short abstract

Drawing on emergency legislature and existing disaster-preparedness frameworks, this paper seeks to trace ecological ableism in the context of the Anthropocene; from the suspension of disabled rights, to the mobilisation (and criminalisation) of self-neglect in instances of refusal and resistance.

Long abstract

From the simple jagged curb to the eventual waist-deep floodwaters in care homes, and ramp-less emergency halls, it becomes evident that the slow and gradual accumulation of inaccessibility can lead to ecologies of injury and harm. These are sites where histories of inadequate funding, environmental ableism, and curative violence all merge with the climactic and the meteorological. Taking Astrida Neimanis' weathering (which posits the body as a maker and sensor of climate change) as its starting point, and building on Rob Nixon's conceptualisation of slow violence, this paper hopes to examine the manner in which climate change invokes a potential space where the very materiality, or materially-assured realm, of rights, agency, and capacity to assert can be denied, withheld, or otherwise destroyed. Honing in on the invocation of the Baker Act during Hurricane Irma, which facilitated the involuntary detainment of non-compliant disabled and mentally ill individuals, it will be argued that emergency-based legislative action morphed refusal into a form of self neglect, effectively invalidating non-normative wilfulness and reviving a reoccurring societal notion that disabled individuals hold an apparent deathwish. The paper will also consider existing policy frameworks within Australia (specifically the Disability Inclusive Disaster Preparedness in NSW), foregrounding the systemic alignment between discourses of preparedness, as well as proactivity, and ableist self-responsibilisation. Finally, the emergence of 'ecological ableism' will be carefully traced, highlighting the construction of subjects deemed to be non-productive and resistant, as both disposable and ungrievable; reflecting the wider assemblage of the contemporary positive eugenics movement.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.