Current Issue

Volume 81, Number 1

April 2006

Rethinking Emigrant Citizenship

David Fitzgerald

The relationship between states and absent citizens is an object of increasing interest in law, history, and the social sciences. On a world-historical scale, what appears unprecedented is the legitimate prevalence of dual nationality, and in many source countries, the government’s active promotion of dual nationality and dual cultural nationalism. While interest in extraterritorial citizenship fades over time and the course of generations, there are important exceptions for a core of activists whose trans-state political participation actually increases over time spent outside the home country and for migrants in contexts where the relative fortunes of sending and receiving countries reverse over longer time frames. An increasingly common way of framing a sending “nation” is to include members living outside the state’s territory in a way that reinforces the domestic and even international capacity of the sending country’s government. This Article argues that most legal means by which emigrants are incorporated maximize individual liberty, but their extraterritorial political participation comes at the cost of allowing members to make policies to which they are not directly subject and to tilt citizenship towards claiming rights rather than fulfilling obligations.