Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Research shows conceptualisation of citizenship changing alongside Liberia's transformation from country of immigration to one of emigration, and return

In an article published in Citizenship Studies, IMI Senior Research Officer Robtel Neajai Pailey interrogates what it is to be a 'Liberian citizen'. She explores how the concept of citizenship can be seen as a continuum between passive rights, e.g. citizenship by birthplace or ancestry; active contribution, e.g. a contribution to development through political or economic action, and interaction, e.g. relations between the Liberian state and its citizens at home and abroad. She examines the construction of 'Liberian citizenship' through a historical lens, given Liberia's history has been shaped by migration, mobility, conflict, exile and return.

Based on interviews with 202 respondents in five urban sites in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, the US and the UK, Robtel's research uncovers the complexity of ideas of citizenship in a country which has seen the (forced) migration of hundreds of thousands of people before, during and after intermittent armed conflicts. She finds variation in conceptions of citizenship - from those who see it as linked to blood or birthright, to those who conceive of 'Liberian citizenship' as a form of practice, i.e. 'doing' rather than 'being'.

In this context she finds that new configurations of citizenship across space and time are created in parallel with and transcend those offered in the legislative sense. Her research offers a new perspective on how identities, practices and relations between people - including notions of citizenship - are transformed in the aftermath of violent conflict.

Read the published article

Similar stories

Working Paper: Immigration policy effects – A conceptual framework

Publication

Liv Bjerre provides a conceptual framework for the analysis of immigration policy effects by arguing that immigration policies have varying effects on different categories of immigrants whether they are regular immigrants, asylum seekers or irregular immigrants

Return Migration in Africa

Publication

IMI Researcher, Dr. Marie-Laurence Flahaux together with Dr. Bruno Shoumaker and Dr. Thierry Eggerickx edit a new issue of 'Space, Populations, Societies' which seeks to explore the understudied aspects of return migration in Africa

Working Paper: Hopes and fears of migrants’ contribution to political change, a Tunisian case study

Publication

Marieke van Houte explores complexities of political change in relation to mobility and immobility through a fascinating Tunisian case study that challenges conventional notions that transnational political engagements contribute to democratization

Exploring domestic & diasporic non-government responses to the Liberian Ebola Crisis

Publication

New article published in the academic journal, African Affairs by IMI Senior Research Officer Robtel Neajai Pailey

Legal invisibility was the best thing to happen to me

Media coverage Publication

Senior Research Officer Robtel Neajai Pailey shares her experience of living as an undocumented migrant in the US for 14 years in a remarkable piece for Al Jazeera

Call for papers for new journal Migration and Society

General Publication

The first issue of the journal focuses on Hospitality and hostility towards migrants: Global perspectives