Precarious Belonging: Stateless People in a ‘Postnational’ World

Dissertation Author: Kristy A. Belton

Year: 2014

Abstract:

Postnational scholarship describes a world of blurred boundaries, flexible memberships and denationalized rights. Through an examination of statelessness in the developing-world, democratic States of The Bahamas and the Dominican Republic, however, I demonstrate that possession of formal citizenship in the State is still necessary to access rights, freedoms and protections for those who are noncitizens everywhere. By focusing on how the human right to a nationality is instantiated in practice, I illustrate how State practices of citizenship denial and deprivation, especially toward persons of Haitian descent, make and keep certain groups of people “Other.” Such persons, I argue, are displaced, even though they remain physically rooted in the country of their birth. Their displacement is both legal and psychosocial as they are either forced to become liminal subjects or to take on a nationality with which they do not identify (Haitian). By demonstrating their peculiar form of displacement, and the large gap that exists between the proclamation of a human right to a nationality and its fulfillment in practice, I expose the fragility of membership in our allegedly postnational world. Finally, in order to remedy this gap and to advocate for a right to belong, I conclude by proposing an alternative “just membership,” as opposed to legal, framework from which to address statelessness and the fulfillment of a human right to a nationality.

Dissertation Copy Available in the POLS Director of Graduate Studies’ (DGS) office? Yes