The CITSEE team is pleased to announce the publication of a special issue of the journal “Ethnopolitics” dedicated to “Uneven Citizenship: Minorities and Migrants in the Post-Yugoslav Space”. It contains an introduction and five articles on various aspects of uneven citizenship practices in the region. This special issue of Ethnopolitics comes out of the second phase of research conducted within the CITSEE project. These thematic and comparative articles have been written within the framework of a distinct CITSEE research cluster – “Citizenship, Minorities and Migrations” – to which all the authors belong.
In their Introduction, Gëzim Krasniqi and Dejan Stjepanović briefly present the overarching theme of the paper – relations between citizenship and various manifestations of diversity including, but going beyond, ethnicity – addressed through the introduction of the notion of uneven citizenship. According to them, by referring to uneven citizenship the special issue not only engages with exclusionary legal, political and social practices but also other unanticipated or unaccounted for results of citizenship policies.
Biljana Đorđević’s article Whose Rights, Whose Return? The Boundary Problem and Unequal Restoration of Citizenship in the Post-Yugoslav Space addresses the right to return as a right that should be upheld as one of the political principles for mitigation of the boundary problem in post-conflict societies. Restoration of citizenship pursued through justified politics of return contributes to democratic reconstitution of post-conflict societies. The paper contends that in post-Yugoslav space, however, the politics of return of refugees, internally displaced persons, diaspora and deportspora can be charged with promoting some forms of citizenship inequality, preferring some citizens over others and impeding or effectively blocking the return of those who are not desirable.
The article Claimed Co-ethnics and Kin-State Citizenship in Southeastern Europe by Dejan Stjepanović introduces the often neglected concept of ‘claimed co-ethnics’ in the analysis of citizenship policies. It argues that this is an interstitial category that further complicates the triadic nexus between national minorities, nationalising states and kin-states. The ‘claimed co-ethnics’ are defined as people who are recognised by the citizenship (or ethnizenship) conferring state as belonging to its main ethnic group, although they themselves do not embrace that definition. In addition to bringing the issue of claimed co-ethnics into focus, the paper elucidates how citizenship policies can affect groups that challenge the exact fit between ethnicity and nation, showing how national governments through particular citizenship policies and categorisation practices engage in the construction of these groups. The paper shows that the triadic nexus framework, which has had a strong influence on citizenship and minorities scholarship, needs to be revised to include unidirectional relations between the elements of the triadic nexus. The paper is based on the comparison between the cases of ethnic Vlachs (in the context of Albania and Greece) and Bunjevci (in the context of Serbia and Croatia).
In her article Romani Minorities and Uneven Citizenship Access in the Post-Yugoslav Space Julija Sardelić discusses the position of Romani minorities in the light of the state dissolution and further citizenship regime transformations after the disintegration of the former Socialist Yugoslavia. While observing closely the repositioning of the Romani minorities in the post-Yugoslav space, it explicates that in the case of state dissolution, the unevenness of citizenship does not only manifest in the rights dimension, but also in uneven access to citizenship with regard to new polities.
Viktor Koska’s Refugee Integration and Citizenship Policies: The Case Study of Croatian Serbs in Vojvodina examines the integration experiences of Serb refugees who left Croatia during the 1990s and sought protection in Serbia. By focusing on access to citizenship and alternative legal statuses as determinants of specific integration outcomes, the paper argues that integration represents a more complex process than the one consisting solely in an adjustment to cultural, economic, legal, political and social conditions in the host country. The context within which refugees exercise their agency during the process of integration is not determined solely by the environment of the host state, but is constructed by legal remedies that are at the disposition of the refugees in their state of origin, possibilities to restore the networks they left behind and feelings of personal identity that are associated with the previous home. In this process, the paper argues, citizenship policies play a complex role for they define the areas of social life in which refugees can legally act, define the nature and the scope of access to material remedies necessary for the restoration of economic livelihood in the new environment, and play an important role in the process of identity self-construction.
Gëzim Krasniqi’s article Equal Citizens, Uneven Communities: Differentiated and Hierarchical Citizenship in Kosovo argues that the mismatch between the idea of a ‘liberal’ state and the practice of group differentiation, on the one hand, and the socio-political reality that emerged in the post-war period, on the other, has resulted in a citizenship regime that is hierarchical. It aims to demonstrate how despite the legally enshrined promise of equality, differentiated citizenship, together with a political context defined by an ethnic divide and past structural inequalities, as well as uneven external citizenship opportunities, contributed to the emergence of hierarchical citizenship, in which some groups (communities), or ‘rights-and-duty-bearing units’, are more equal than the others.
The CITSEE team is very pleased to see the fruits of its work published so soon after the project’s formal end in December 2014. We would like to thank all the researchers, anonymous reviewers and journal editors for their outstanding commitment and cooperation.