As the quality of democracy changes in the 21st century, the nature and practice of citizenship must also be reconsidered. We ask what sorts of citizenship practices, embedded in what sorts of moral economies, are surviving the neoliberal 'wavering of death'.
Theories of democracy from Aristotle to Habermas have conceived of citizenship as participation in a public sphere, while recent approaches have emphasised the moral conditions associated with citizen agency (Balibar 2014; O'Donnell 2011). As the quality of democracy changes in the 21st century, the nature and practice of citizenship must also be reconsidered. The blurring of public and private interests amidst what Povinelli (2011) refers to as the 'wavering of death' as part of 'late liberalism', raises new questions about the nature of and possibilities for civic participation. A range of anthropological and political critique has questioned how harm is perpetuated as part of the democratic state while being placed outside of the purview of ethics, and how lives and social projects endure given this situation. We ask what sorts of citizenship practices, embedded in what sorts of moral economies, are surviving this neoliberal death drive.
Latin America may have become the centre of empirical research and theoretical debate about the possibilities for citizenship within and beyond liberalism. This region has come to be a source of optimism about the future of liberal democracy or post-liberal possibilities for some, while others problematise the ways that everyday practices challenge public-private, legal-illegal, self-community distinctions at the heart of liberal institutions. We take this recent anthropological scholarship on citizenship in Latin America as a jumping off point, and invite papers that situate citizenship practices within local moral economies, and which grapple with emergent possibilities and constraints on active citizenship.