By Engin F. Isin
Being Political offers a robust critique of universalistic and orientalist interpretations of the origins of citizenship and a persuasive replacement heritage of the current struggles over citizenship.
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Additional info for Being political: genealogies of citizenship
For Simmel the stranger is not a wanderer who comes today and goes tomorrow, but rather one who comes today and stays tomorrow (1908c, 143). This conception of the stranger captures its principle of immanence, its interiority to social space. The stranger is the potential wanderer, who although an insider, interacts as though he is an outsider. If wandering is detachment from a particular place, belonging is its opposite, attachment to a place, and estrangement is a synthesis of attachment and detachment, wandering and belonging.
As Elias observes, “The problem is how and why human beings perceive one another as belonging to the same group and include one another within the group boundaries which they establish when saying ‘we’ in City as a Difference Machine 25 their reciprocal communications, while at the same time excluding other human beings whom they perceive as belonging to another group and to whom they collectively refer as ‘they’” (1976, xxxvii). But Elias invokes the logics of exclusion and enclosure as the foundations of alterity.
While both are immanent, strangers are often implicated in a combination of solidaristic and agonistic strategies and technologies, and outsiders often in a combination of agonistic and alienating strategies and technologies. As we shall see, merchants and artisans in the polis or sansculottes and workers in the metropolis are examples of strangers. While estranged from citizenship, they were nonetheless considered as belonging to the city and they could associate with citizens via solidaristic or agonistic strategies and technologies.
Being political: genealogies of citizenship by Engin F. Isin