Back to top

Universal Citizenship

Universal Citizenship
Latina/o Studies at the Limits of Identity

This rich theoretical analysis redefines and relocates the concept of universal citizenship at the revolutionary limits of the nation and identity.

Series: Border Hispanisms

January 2019
Add to cart
280 pages | 6 x 9 | 3 b&w photos |

Recently, many critics have questioned the idea of universal citizenship by pointing to the racial, class, and gendered exclusions on which the notion of universality rests. Rather than jettison the idea of universal citizenship, however, R. Andrés Guzmán builds on these critiques to reaffirm it especially within the fields of Latina/o and ethnic studies. Beyond conceptualizing citizenship as an outcome of recognition and admittance by the nation-state—in a negotiation for the right to have rights—he asserts that, insofar as universal citizenship entails a forceful entrance into the political from the latter’s foundational exclusions, it emerges at the limits of legality and illegality via a process that exceeds identitarian capture.

Drawing on Lacanian psychoanalysis and philosopher Alain Badiou’s notion of “generic politics,” Guzmán advances his argument through close analyses of various literary, cultural, and legal texts that foreground contention over the limits of political belonging. These include the French Revolution, responses to Arizona’s H.B. 2281, the 2006 immigrant rights protests in the United States, the writings of Oscar “Zeta” Acosta, Frantz Fanon’s account of Algeria’s anticolonial struggle, and more. In each case, Guzmán traces the advent of the “citizen” as a collective subject made up of anyone who seeks to radically transform the organizational coordinates of the place in which she or he lives.

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Universal Citizenship at the Limits of Nature and Culture
  • Chapter 1. Cause and Consistency: The Democratic Act, Universal Citizenship, and Nation
  • Chapter 2. Ethnics of the Real: HB 2281 and the Alien(ated) Subject
  • Chapter 3. Criminalization at the Edge of the Evental Site: Migrant “Illegality,” Universal Citizenship, and the 2006 Immigration Marches
  • Chapter 4. Oscar “Zeta” Acosta and Generic Politics: At the Margins of Identity and Law
  • Chapter 5. Between Crowd and Group: Fantasy, Revolutionary Nation, and the Politics of the Not-All
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Bloomington, Indiana

Guzmán is an assistant professor of Latina/o and Latin American literature and culture at Indiana University.


“Guzmán’s incisive approach to the role of identity in Latino studies and broader collective group formation offers a timely intervention that will serve scholars in numerous disciplines across the humanities and social sciences. A compelling read that adds necessary revisions to understandings of undocumentation in Latino studies and of migration more broadly, Guzmán’s text offers a nuanced perspective on political action and structural change. By moving in scale from the individual’s relation to the self to the individual’s relationship to broader society, Guzmán activates a wide range of methods for cohering the social into radical democratic acts, offering new ways to approach the subject at the limits of identity and the nation-state.”
Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies

“This book is a worthy contribution to the critique of identitarianism in the field of Latina/o studies. It also makes a significant contribution in offering a synthetic survey of some of the most pressing historical issues regarding immigration,as well as in providing a sort of primer for readers interested but not fully versed in the complex theoretical edifice of Alain Badiou and Slavoj i ek.”
Jaime Rodríguez Matos, California State University, Fresno, author of Writing of the Formless: José Lezama Lima and the End of Time

“Guzmán builds an effective, subtle, and utterly convincing case in his critique of citizenship and undocumented immigration within Latina/o studies. . . . This book challenges literary and cultural scholars to think beyond the established parameters of statist and identitarian notions of the citizen and citizenship as it relates to both cultural production and civic participation.”
Marcial González, University of California, Berkeley, author of Chicano Novels and the Politics of Form: Race, Class, and Reification


Available for Kindle
Available on Google Play
Available on Kobo
Available for Nook
Available on the Apple Store

This book may also be available on the following library platforms; check with your local library:
3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca