The strength of weak cit­i­zen­ship

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Aneesh Aneesh on the glob­al­ized work­force

Aneesh Aneesh looks at how glob­al­iza­tion is prac­ticed rather than how it is preached. Us­ing India and its di­as­pora of mi­grants as his lab­o­ra­tory, the as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor of so­ci­ol­ogy and global stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin and direc­tor of the school’s In­sti­tute of World Af­fairs has mapped out the ways in which the world­wide work­place in­creas­ingly re­quires in­di­vid­u­als to cut their ties to local cul­tures and ac­quire what he de­fines as an “in­dif­fer­ence to dif­fer­ence.” His 2006 book Vir­tual Mi­gra­tion: The Pro­gram­ming

of Glob­al­iza­tion (Duke Univer­sity Press) ex­am­ines how the fi­nan­cial suc­cess of Amer­i­can soft­ware com­pa­nies, debt-col­lec­tion agen­cies, and even mort­gage firms re­lies on the “vir­tual mi­gra­tion” of India-based coders, whose skills and la­bor cross na­tional bound­aries while their bod­ies re­main in their home coun­try. His most re­cent book, Neu­tral Ac­cent: How Lan­guage, La­bor, and Life Be­come Global (Duke Univer­sity Press, 2015), finds him un­der­cover at a call cen­ter in Gur­gaon, India, ob­serv­ing the ways em­ploy­ees in the glob­ally in­te­grated mar­ket­place learn to mimic Amer­i­can so­cial norms and ac­cents as they be­come in­creas­ingly dis­con­nected from their own time zones and lin­guis­tic com­mu­ni­ties.

When Aneesh ap­pears in Santa Fe on Thurs­day, Oct. 13, at the James A. Lit­tle The­ater as part of the School for Ad­vanced Re­search’s pub­lic lec­ture se­ries, he in­tro­duces his lat­est topic of in­ves­ti­ga­tion: how the gov­ern­ments of coun­tries that ex­port a global work­force — such as India and Ja­maica — have created new forms of cit­i­zen­ship for na­tion­als who will spend their prime years work­ing abroad. A for­mer SAR fel­low, Aneesh de­vel­oped some of his the­o­ries on al­ter­na­tive cit­i­zen­ship dur­ing his sab­bat­i­cal in Santa Fe.

“I call it the strength of weak cit­i­zen­ship,” Aneesh told Pasatiempo. “Some­thing sub­tle is hap­pen­ing in the regime of cit­i­zen­ship. Dif­fer­ent coun­tries are be­gin­ning to of­fer dif­fer­ent ‘pack­ages’ of cit­i­zen­ship rights to their work­ers who live abroad and, some­times, to im­mi­grant work­ers within their na­tion-state.” With the rise of na­tional gov­ern­ments rec­og­niz­ing res­i­dents who have dual and even mul­ti­ple cit­i­zen­ships, Aneesh ar­gues, the long-stand­ing norms of cit­i­zen­ship as a func­tion of bi­o­log­i­cal her­itage or ter­ri­to­rial birth­place are be­gin­ning to loosen.

For his case study, Aneesh turns his at­ten­tion to India’s re­cently es­tab­lished Over­seas Cit­i­zen­ship of India (OCI) law. En­acted in 2006, the law pro­vides a pack­age of cit­i­zen­ship-like rights to per­sons of In­dian ori­gin (through their par­ents, grand­par­ents, or even great-grand­par­ents) who live abroad but have re­turned to India for some length of time. Un­der OCI, per­sons of In­dian ori­gin can travel to India with­out a visa, buy and sell In­dian prop­erty, and com­pete with In­dian res­i­dents for jobs. It is not, how­ever, a dual cit­i­zen­ship ar­range­ment that per­mits a per­son

Aneesh in­tro­duces his lat­est topic of in­ves­ti­ga­tion: how the gov­ern­ments of coun­tries that ex­port a global work­force have created new forms of cit­i­zen­ship for na­tion­als who will spend their prime years work­ing abroad.

of In­dian ori­gin who is liv­ing in, say, Lon­don or Las Ve­gas, the right to vote or run for of­fice.

Aneesh, who con­ducted several ethno­graphic in­ter­views with high­rank­ing officials from the Min­istry of Over­seas In­dian Af­fairs, said that eth­nic ori­gin claims — “the sun never sets on the In­dian di­as­pora,” ac­cord­ing to one of the min­istry’s re­ports — were in­voked when the govern­ment first be­gan draft­ing the OCI law.

Yet as with many coun­tries that have re­luc­tantly be­gun to ex­tend cit­i­zen­ship-like rights to di­as­po­ras work­ing abroad, what prompted India to act was money. Re­al­iz­ing the fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits the coun­try could ac­crue by ex­tend­ing rights of com­merce and travel to the es­ti­mated 20 mil­lion In­di­ans who live out­side India, the coun­try en­acted OCI to boost for­eign re­mit­tance monies be­ing sent back home.

While Aneesh en­dorses this new form of “weak cit­i­zen­ship,” of­fered by India as a step to­ward a stronger set of post-na­tional cit­i­zen­ship rights, he is con­cerned that such laws can be eas­ily abused. Cit­ing Rus­sia as an ex­am­ple, he notes that most for­mer Soviet re­publics — such as Lithua­nia and Ge­or­gia — of­fer visa-free rights to en­ter Rus­sia, but for­mer cit­i­zens are ex­cluded from the right to work or per­ma­nently re­side there.

Aneesh’s fear of dis­crim­i­na­tion is re­in­forced at the bor­der level, which for many na­tions in Europe and North Amer­ica has be­come a heated site for up­hold­ing ex­clu­sive claims to na­tional cit­i­zen­ship. “With the rise of the na­tion-state, bor­ders be­come more im­por­tant than city cen­ters in defin­ing cit­i­zen­ship, in de­mar­cat­ing who be­longs to the na­tion-state,” Aneesh said. In his 2016 es­say “Dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing Cit­i­zen­ship,” he uses the metaphor of a soft fruit with a hard shell to de­scribe that re­la­tion­ship. The “soft” in­te­rior of a coun­try of­fers in­creas­ing pro­tec­tions to im­mi­grants who work and live within its con­fines, he writes. But at the “hard-shelled” bor­der, sur­veil­lance, raids, and an of­ten-vi­o­lent cul­ture of mil­i­ta­rized bor­der pa­trols rule the day. None­the­less, Aneesh hopes that emerg­ing laws reg­u­lat­ing rights for a coun­try’s work­ing di­as­pora may lay the ground­work for a fu­ture of world­wide post-na­tional cit­i­zen­ship. His­tor­i­cally, na­tions as­sign cit­i­zen­ship ei­ther by the right of blood ( jus

san­gui­nis) or by the right of soil ( jus soli). For in­stance, the United States op­er­ates un­der jus soli, con­fer­ring au­to­matic birthright cit­i­zen­ship on ev­ery child born on Amer­i­can soil, even if the par­ents are not res­i­dents of the U.S. Ger­many, in con­trast, has tra­di­tion­ally al­lo­cated cit­i­zen­ship un­der jus san­gui­nis, ex­tend­ing cit­i­zen­ship to any child with at least one Ger­man par­ent, re­gard­less of where he or she is born or raised. Aneesh ar­gues that nei­ther op­tion is ad­e­quate to deal with this new era of mass im­mi­gra­tion and glob­al­ized work­places. “By adopt­ing, ex­tend­ing, and en­forc­ing the rights-based cit­i­zen­ship model,” he writes, “the states may be mere bro­kers of the late mod­ern force of his­tory where ev­ery­thing solid — blood or soil — melts into air.”

ANEESH ANEESH on the glob­al­ized work­force

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