James Holston, Insurgent Citizenship

In the first chapter of his book, Holston argues that democratization adn urbanization in the twentieth century have been accompanied by increased citizen conflicts. Thus, he says, “the worldwide insurgence of democractic citizenships in recent decades has disrupted established formulas of rule and privilege in the most diverse societies. The result is an entanglement of democracy with its counters, in which new kinds of citizens arise to expand democratic citizenship and new forms of violence and exclusion simultaneously erode it” (3). He also argues that this contestation of citizenship is something particularly related to global urbanization, “as cities become crowded with marginalized citizens and noncitizens who contest their exclusions. In these contexts, citizenship is unsettled and unsettiling” (3).

Holston also argues that in Brazil in particular, “the insurgent and entrenched remain conjoined in dangerous and corrosive entanglements” (4).

In some ways, this last comment is not so different from my argument about dis/placement. With my vocabulary, he could be interpreted as saying that “the displacing and emplaced remain conjoined in dangerous and corrosive entanglements.” Of course, this changes the meaning of his sentence, but the idea is similar. The emplacement of power of some is based in the displacement of power of others. The displacement of people from a certain space is based in the emplacement of an authority over that space. The insurgent coexists with the entrenched, because they are mutually constitutive (in some ways).

Holston, James. Insurgent Citizenship: Disjunctions of Democracy and Modernity in Brazil. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2008. Print.


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