All my books and articles have started as projects – research projects that involve working collaboratively with artists, activists, researchers, and writers. My books and articles are outcomes of these projects rather than being conceived as ‘writings’. Below are short descriptions of projects that have led to various writings.
Oecumene: Citizenship After Orientalism [2010-2015]
This project was funded by the European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant (Institutions, values, beliefs and behaviour ERC-AG-SH2). The project focuses on the interaction between two controversial and contested concepts: citizenship — the process by which belonging is recognised and enacted — and orientalism — the assertion of the superiority of western culture over its eastern counterparts. As regards citizenship, what it means to be a citizen, who can act as a citizen, what obligations derive from citizenship are at the forefront of much political discourse as the nation-state dissolves into regional identities, integrates — or fails to integrate — new social groups, and is transformed by supra-national entities. The question of citizenship lies at the heart of the legitimacy of rule and political subjectivity. What connects citizenship to orientalism is that when we investigate the origins of ideas about (European) citizenship we discover that it is essentially considered a Judeo-Christian development juxtaposed against Buddhism, Confucianism, Islam, and Hinduism. The project begins with a critique of the argument that explains the success of European capitalism in terms of differences in social structures that had effectively prevented the emergence of ‘citizens’ in oriental societies. The project aims to revisit questions of citizenship as political subjectivity in ‘orientalised cultures’ — Indian, Chinese, Islamic and Indigenous — through 'genealogical investigations' untrammelled by orientalist assumptions. The research methodology is genealogical through which the origins, interpretations and mutations of ideas and actions will be traced through their historical and cultural struggles. The project is deliberately designed to generate disagreements. Rather than working with like-minded collaborators, the project will engage with its antagonists through a series of workshops where opposing views will be debated and disseminated to diverse audiences. Rather than a 'critique' the project is a combination of intervention and invention.
Acts Archives Project [2013- ]
This project begins something that I wanted for a long time: a collaborative effort to create a living archive of acts. Currently, it remains a part of my website but in the future we may move it to a dedicated site if there is interest. It is a collaborative rather than a 'collective' as it holds nothing in common but collaborates through resonance. For further information check ACTS.
Citizenship Studies [1997-]
Founded by my colleague Bryan S. Turner in 1997 the international journal of Citizenship Studies published by Routledge has been a project of heavy involvement since its founding. I was initially its North American Editor (1997-2000) then Managing Editor (2000-2005) and now Co-chief Editor with Bryan. In 2005, our colleague Peter Nyers joined us as a Managing Editor and then as an Associate Editor. In 2007, we have celebrated its 10th year with an anniversary issue. We began the journal with 3 issues per year and since then we have increased it to 4 and then 5 issues. In 2008, we began publishing 6 issues per year. In 2009, we started an exciting new series called ‘Thinking Citizenship’. In 2014, we welcomed Peter Nyers as a Chief Editor. We now publish 8 issues per year.
Recasting the Social in Citizenship [2004-2008]
This project was funded by SSHRC in 2004 when I was at York University. My co-investigators were Professor Janine Brodie (University of Alberta), Professor Danielle Juteau (Université de Montréal), Professor Daiva Stasiulis. We established a research programme on citizenship whose aim was to build on Citizenship Studies Media Lab (CSML) at York University which I founded as both a virtual (discussion forum, web and internet conferencing) and actual (symposia, workshops, and conferences) as a collaborative centre and integrate it with its Edmonton (Brodie), Montreal (Juteau) and Ottawa (Stasiulis) counterparts. The research programme serves as the foundation of a collaborative and collective model of knowledge creation. We have invited six early careers researchers to join the research programme and the a book entitled ‘recasting the social in citizenship’ was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2008.
ENACT: Enacting European Citizenship [2008-2010]
This project is funded by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). It brings together researchers from three member states of the European Union (UK, Belgium and the Netherlands), two new member states (Hungary and Latvia) and a candidate state (Turkey) to explore in depth how European citizenship is claimed, disputed, built — in short, enacted. European citizenship is an unprecedented project in the making. But it is not simply about status and rights. There is a dynamic element too: citizens, third country nationals, refugees, illegal aliens and states enact claims to citizenship. This major research programme asks: how do acts shape our ideas of subjects of citizenship, and the very idea of citizenship itself? Acts that articulate claims to citizenship (and produce claimants) create new sites of belonging and identiﬁcation. These differ from traditional, and still important, sites of citizenship such as voting, social security, and military obligation. Acts of citizenship stretch across boundaries. They also produce new subjects and scales of citizenship. By investigating acts we expand the focus from what people say (opinions, perceptions, attitudes) to what people do – an important supplement, and sometimes a corrective, to a conventional focus on what people or authorities (EU as well as national courts, agencies, organisations) say about European citizenship and identiﬁcation.
Acts of Citizenship [2002-2006]
This project began in 2002 at the Studies Citizenship Media Lab (CSML), which was founded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) funded Canada Research Chair programme. Its aim was to investigate the relationship between practices, orders, and habitus of citizenship. The concept of 'acts' became the binding thread of investigations into the ways in which subjects become citizens. A book entitled ‘Acts of Citizenship’ (with Greg Nielsen) was published by Zed Books in 2008. It has also become the foundations of a research programme funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme at the Open University’s Faculty of Social Sciences and POLIS and CCIG. The project is entitled Enacting European Citizenship (ENACT) and involves eight research teams in six countries.
Islamic Beneficence, Waqfs and Citizenship [2002-2010]
This research project began in 2002 with Canada Research Chair in Citizenship that I held at York University 2002-2007. It was also awarded two SSHRC grants. Ottoman waqfs were pious foundations established for the purposes of beneficence between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. While the origins of waqfs lie in broader Islamic history, Ottoman waqfs became the primary means by which cities were founded and through which what we would today call social and cultural services were provided to Ottoman citizens. At first sight, studying citizenship and waqfs together surprised many people. What is the relationship? Citizenship (its modern version that we are familiar with) was born of the nation-state in which certain rights and obligations were allocated to individuals under its authority. Modern citizenship rights that draw from the nation-state typically include civil (free speech and movement, rule of law), political (voting, seeking electoral office) and social (welfare, unemployment insurance and health care) rights. The precise combination and depth of such rights vary from one state to another but a modern democratic state is expected to uphold a combination of universal citizenship rights and obligations. By contrast, Ottoman waqfs are popularly known as foundations mostly for avoiding state taxes and bequeathing family property by wealthy subjects. The two institutions could not be more dissimilar. Yet, a critical analysis reveals more affinities between these two institutions, and equally important, underscores a political necessity for rethinking the waqf as a citizenship practice and institution. The basic principles of this research were articulated in Being Political (2002) where I suggested a relationship between orientalism and citizenship. This relationship was elaborated in "Citizenship After Orientalism" (2002) and "Citizenship After Orientalism: Ottoman Citizenship". (2005). The need to investigate Ottoman waqfs was already present in the latter but it became a clearly articulated aim in (with Alexandre Lefebvre) "The Gift of Law: Greek Euergetism and Ottoman Waqf" (2005).
From the Neurotic Citizen to Governing Affects [2002-]
This research began in 2002 with a graduate course at York University. Over the last three decades we have witnessed the birth of a subject that has constituted the foundations of a regime change in state societies: the neoliberal subject. As much as neoliberalism came to mean the withdrawal of the state from certain arenas, the decline of social citizenship, privatization, downloading etc., it also meant, if not predicated upon, the production of an image of the subject as self-sufficient, calculating, responsible, autonomous, and free. While the latter point has been a topic of debate concerning the rational subject, I argued that the rational subject has itself been predicated upon and accompanied by another subject: the neurotic subject. More recently, it is this neurotic subject that has become the object of various governmental projects whose conduct is based not merely on calculating rationalities but also arises from and responds to fears, anxieties and insecurities, which I consider as ‘governing through neurosis’. The rise of the neurotic citizen signals a new type of politics (neuropolitics) and power (neuropower). I suggest a new concept, neuroliberalism — a rationality of government that takes its subject as the neurotic citizen — as an object of analysis.