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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The History of Racialized Citizenship.

  • Author(s): FitzGerald, David Scott
  • et al.

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Racial categorizations have been used since antiquity as grounds for assigning and takingaway citizenship. This history includes cycles of racialization and deracialization. Theproto-racialization of citizenship in Athens was followed by a more open Roman model.The racialization of religious bigotry did not become formalized until the creation of anti-Jewish and anti-Moorish policies in sixteenth century Iberia. Examining the historicalrecord across diverse contexts suggests that jus sanguinis is not inherently racist. Whilein an abstract sense, jus soli might sustain a civic vision of nationality, in practice, theexamples of Western Hemisphere states, particularly the United States, shows that jussoli is fully compatible with racialized citizenship. The construction of nation-states fromempires is consonant with the racialization of policies while the consolidation of thenation-state system created barriers to racialization. Since the mid-twentieth century,citizenship has entered a deracializing phase, even as political entrepreneursaggressively test the strength of anti-racist institutions.

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