CESPOL-VPW joint research seminar
‘Spaces of (non-citizen) citizenship: The liminal politics of undocumented activism’ | nov, 3 2014

The ‘Centre de science politique et de politique comparée’ of the Université catholique de Louvain and the VPW thematic group ‘Diversity and Equality’ invite you to a ‘CESPOL-VPW joint research seminar’ with Dr. Thomas Swerts (University of Chicago/Université de Liège).

Dr. Swerts will present his research on ‘Spaces of (non-citizen) citizenship: The liminal politics of undocumented activism’.

Since the turn of the century, urban scholars have argued that the city is the site par excellence for the emergence of new political subjects who are changing the face of citizenship. The mobilization of undocumented immigrants is often invoked as an example of this trend. What remains unclear, however, is how these precarious subjects, who are barred from institutional channels to voice their grievances and who have little access to resources, become political. Dr. Swerts will explain how the city operates as a vehicle for the politicization of undocumented immigrants. His study offers a theoretical understanding of ‘liminal politics’ that focuses on the symbolic and spatial practices whereby the undocumented, who find themselves between and betwixt statuses, enact and perform citizenship. Based on a multi-sited ethnography of undocumented activism in Chicago and Brussels, he shows how such a liminal politics relies on urban space in two ways: first, by its dependence on ‘safe spaces’ wherein the undocumented can (re-)imagine themselves as citizens and second, by its use of public space as a theatrical stage to express rights-claims. The study thus shows that urban space is a crucial incubator for relatively marginalized populations’ struggles over citizenship.

Thomas Swerts received his PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago. Previously, he received his MA in Political Science from the University of Leuven. He is currently a visiting scholar at the Center for Ethnic and Migration Studies at the University of Liège. In his work, he explores the modalities of non-citizen citizenship as an emerging social phenomenon. His research interests also include urban social movements, comparative migration politics and transnational advocacy networks.

The research seminar will take place on Monday November 3 2014 (12h45-14h).

Location: Université catholique de Louvain, Place Montesquieu 1, Leclercq building, room LECL290.

Participation is free, but registration is required (please send an email to silvia.erzeel@uclouvain.be).

With kind regards,
Silvia Erzeel, Conrad Meulewaeter, Eline Severs and Ferdinand Teuber







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