Citizenship tests are arguably intended as moments of hailing, or interpellation, through which norms are internalized and citizen-subjects produced. The authors of this article analyze the multiple political subjects revealed through migrants’ narratives of the citizenship test process, drawing on 158 interviews with migrants in Leicester and London who are at different stages in the UK citizenship test process. In dialogue with three counter-figures in the critical naturalization literature – the ‘neoliberal citizen’; the ‘anxious citizen’; and the ‘heroic citizen’ – they propose the figure of the ‘citizen-negotiator’, a socially situated actor who attempts to assert control over their life as they navigate the test process and state power. Through the focus on negotiation, the authors see migrants navigating a process of differentiation founded on pre-existing inequalities rather than a journey toward transformation.
Publication details and link to source: Leah Bassel & Pierre Monforte & Kamran Khan, Making political citizens? Migrants’ narratives of naturalization in the United Kingdom, Citizenship Studies, 2018