ABSTRACT

Migration and human mobility have long been assigned to the margins of contemporary political philosophy. In recent years, however, political theorists from different schools of thought are increasingly asking what obligations are owed to different groups of foreigners residing on a given state territory, and how the presence and practices of migrants challenge state-centric concepts like citizenship. Much of this work follows traditions of analytical philosophy or applied ethics which seek to derive principles and guidelines for action from general normative theories. Other scholars are beginning to combine political theory and empirical political sociology in order to develop normative and critical concepts through situated analyses of the grievances and struggles of migrants and citizens. In this chapter I favour the latter approach but argue that this calls for more attention to methods and cross-disciplinary research avenues. In a spirit of methodological pluralism I compare research which employs cultural analysis, discusses legal cases or conducts ethnographic field studies, and I advocate an analytical strategy of narrative research as an important supplement. I argue that inviting and analysing migration stories enables us to explore how border crossing and the claiming, loss, and reinterpretation of rights and membership are given meaning as lived experiences and political practices. This opens up fruitful avenues for conceptual development. I illustrate the approach by drawing on interviews with transnational family migrants in the Danish-Swedish border region focusing on a story of ‘performative citizenship’.