chapter  1
24 Pages

Degrees of Statelessness

ByJane Anna Gordon

Chapter 1 argues that while statelessness is often treated as a radical exception or as the epitome of political failure, states and statelessness were created together. However, this was not a singular event. Instead, as states remake themselves and are remade, the nature and consequences of statelessness change as well. The chapter therefore delineates three primary modes of rendering people stateless. In one mode, distinctive regional groups that had long lived semi-autonomously are forcefully incorporated into centralized, homogenizing states. They become, in their own view, nations without states, even when they possess formal citizenship within rich, industrialized countries. By contrast, in a mode associated most with the period preceding and following World War II, people are pushed outside of their national communities with nowhere politically to go. In a third mode, the very category of citizenship and expectations linked to it are significantly eroded with the implications that if, in the past, one could roughly envision political membership as occupying a spectrum with full membership of a powerful Western nation-state, on the one hand, and statelessness, on the other, increasingly all groups, even the fully enfranchised, are marked by degrees of statelessness. The chapter closes with a comparison of instances when vulnerability has and has not been successfully translated into political capital.