46 minutes | May 12, 2021

The Blurry Lines of Belonging (with Talia Shiff, Anna Skarpelis, and Elke Winter)

We think of citizenship as a binary category: you’re either a citizen or you’re not. But the levels of membership can be complex. Refugees and asylum seekers often find that the criteria for acceptance changes, as states devise rationales to exclude them. Three Weatherhead Center sociologists reveal the motivations behind various immigration policies, from the colonial past to the present, and discuss the ethics and impact of open borders.In this episode, Elke Winter explains the different pathways to citizenship, not only for “economic immigrants” but also for refugees and asylum seekers. From an historical perspective, Anna Skarpelis reminds us that some groups have had citizenship imposed on them, in the case of territorial annexation. In the United States, asylum and immigration laws seem to change with each new administration, and Talia Shiff documents some of the impact of the recent changes during the Trump administration.After World War II, the UN Declaration of Human Rights established that all human beings have the right to basic food, shelter, and security, and the right to freedom of movement—even if they cannot access these rights in their own countries. But nations have likely always strayed from these humanitarian values as their geopolitical goals change. Our scholars show how strategic interests and even race come into play, unofficially, to drive prevailing immigration policies. Finally, our scholars delve into the philosophical and ethical context for having more open borders and touch on the economic impact of immigration. On a philosophical level, they raise the questions: What do we owe others? Can a nation redress its colonial legacy through immigration policy? Do developed nations have a moral obligation to those in poorer regions who are trying to find a secure home?With an estimated eighty million people on Earth in flux and looking for permanent settlement, our scholars stress that no single country can resolve this crisis on its own. Host:Erin Goodman, Director, Weatherhead Scholars Program.Guests:Talia Shiff, Affiliate, Weatherhead Research Cluster on Comparative Inequality and Inclusion. Assistant Professor, Tel Aviv University; Lecturer in Sociology, Harvard University.Anna Skarpelis, Affiliate, Weatherhead Research Cluster on Comparative Inequality and Inclusion. PhD, Department of Sociology, New York University.Elke Winter, William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies, Canada Program; Affiliate, Weatherhead Research Cluster on Comparative Inequality and Inclusion.Professor of Sociology, School of Sociological and Anthropological Studies, University of Ottawa.Related Links:Us, Them and Others: Pluralism and National Identity in Diverse Societies by Elke Winter (University of Toronto Press, 2011)“Multicultural Citizenship for the Highly Skilled? Naturalization, Human Capital, and the Boundaries of Belonging in Canada’s Middle-Class Nation-Building” by Elke Winter (Ethnicities, October 27, 2020)“When States Take Rights Back: Citizenship Revocation and Its Discontents” edited by Émilien Fargues, Elke Winter, Matthew J Gibney (Routledge, 2020)Country Report on Citizenship Law: Canada, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, by Elke Winter (2016)“Reconfiguring the Deserving Refugee: Cultural Categories of Worth and the Making of Refugee Policy” by Talia Shiff (Law & Society Review, January 29, 2020)“Revisiting Immutability: Competing Frameworks for Adjudicating Asylum Claims Based on Membership in a Particular Social Group” by Talia Shiff (University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, spring 2020)“Regulating Organizational Ambiguity: Unsettled screening categories and the making of US asylum policy” by Talia Shiff (Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, November 28, 2019)“What Is It Like to Be a Nazi? Racial Vision and Scientific Selves in German Portrait Photographic Practice” by Anna Skarpelis (book chapter in Against the Background of Social Reality: Defaults, Commonplaces and the Sociology of the Unmarked, edited by Carmelo Lombardo and Lorenzo Sabetta. Routledge, forthcoming)"Dresden Will Never Be Hiroshima: Morality, the Bomb and Far-Right Empathy for the Refugee" by Anna Skarpelis (book chapter in Far-Right Revisionism and the End of History: Alt/Histories, edited by Louie Dean Valencia-García. Routledge, 2020)Music credits:Rainbow Bridge by Siddhartha Corsus is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.Choir by XendomArts https://pixabay.com/users/xendomarts-11117859/Follow the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs:WCFIA WebsiteEpicenter WebsiteTwitterFacebookSimplecastSoundcloudVimeo
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