Cities vs States: Should Urban Citizenship be Emancipated from Nationality?

Since the first decade of the millennium – for the first time in human history – more people are living in urban areas than in rural ones. According to UN projections, in 2050 the share of urban populations could rise to more than two thirds of the world population. Will this demographic change also lead to a decline of nation-states and a rise of cities as the dominant arenas of politics, democracy and citizenship?

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City-zenship and national citizenship: complementary and competing but not emancipated from each other

Nir Barak deepens the ambivalence in Rainer Bauböck’s account of urban citizenship and suggests a skeptical but friendly critique towards notions of emancipating urban citizenship from nationality. The relationship between urban and national citizenship should not be seen as mutually exclusive; claims for enhancing city-zenship and decentralizing state power are warranted only insofar as they provide forward-thinking urban response to the decline in democratic participation and civic solidarity at national levels.

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Urban Citizenship Threatens Democratic Equality

It seems urgent that “urban citizenship” is properly characterised to understand not only the rights and responsibilities citizens of cities may well have, but also their grounding. I have no quarrel with this project. However, so far, accounts of urban citizenship – like Rainer Bauböck’s in the piece that launched this forum – do too little to consider the citizenship that is “left over” for those who do not, or cannot, move to cities.

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What’s the Added Value of Legalising City-zenship?

Josephine van Zeben’s response to Bauböck’s reflections on urban citizenship considers some legal implications of the postnational view that Bauböck finds most promising. Specifically, it questions how suited citizenship is – as a legal instrument – for accommodating the concerns raised in Bauböck’s contribution.

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Urban Citizenship is About Improving the City – not Just About Letting Foreigners Vote

In a way, the question of urban citizenship is easy. If a state were to give non-citizens citizenship rights with respect to local elections or urban affairs more generally, it would be fully within its powers to do so. As Rainer Bauböck and others have argued, there are many good reasons why a state might want to do so – and just as many reasons to protect the state’s authority to uphold the system of rights as a whole. That said, many issues remain. There is no consensus, and perhaps there never can be on the key terms at issue: state, nation, urban, and citizenship.

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Urban Citizenship: A Path to Migrant Inclusion

Earlier commentaries in this online symposium highlighted various aspects of urban citizenship, such as the exclusion of non-urban populations (Lenard) or the conundrum of multilevel frames of legal authority (van Zeben). Harald Bauder suggests that urban citizenship can be an important mechanism to create inclusive communities.

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From De Facto Urban Citizenship to Open Borders

I will take Rainer Bauböck’s closing words as my point of departure and offer an answer that is less predictive and normative, and more empirical. I agree with his assertion that we need a robust urban citizenship. I would suggest that we already have some important examples of urban citizenship that challenge and complement national citizenship in crucial ways and it is important to shine a light on those examples to chart a course forward.

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Mean cities: the dark side of urban citizenship

Stadtluft macht frei, or city air makes you free, was a proverb in the Middle Ages. It referred to a legal principle according to which runaway serfs were to become free after living one year in a city. Today, many scholars suggest that urban citizenship still has powerful emancipatory effects.

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