Deprivation of Citizenship as Colonial Violence: Deracination and Dispossession in Assam

Rudabeh Shahid, Joe Turner

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This article argues that deprivation of citizenship is an ongoing force of colonial violence. By exploring the case of citizenship stripping in India’s north-eastern state of Assam, the article proposes that the removal of citizenship rights is not merely an aberration of the ‘normal’ rules of citizenship but bound up with ongoing forms of colonial dispossession informed by racial hierarchies, the regulation of belonging and mobility. Interdisciplinary scholarship on deprivation of citizenship remains largely Euro/western-centric and fails to consider how deprivation works as part of broader patterns of colonial-modern dispossession. By drawing on Gurminder K. Bhambra’s work on the colonial constitution of citizenship and Aurora Vergara-Figueroa’s work on deracination, we treat deprivation of citizenship as a legacy of the colonial and racialised structure of citizenship itself. By using Assam as a case study, the article examines how practices of deprivations are tied to the histories of dispossession, extraction, and control, which underpinned the historical emergence of citizenship in (post)colonial India and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberolac009
JournalInternational Political Sociology
Issue number2
Early online date1 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022

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