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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.

January 2019
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256 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.