ABSTRACT

What does it mean to be ‘stateless’? Is it simply a question of not being able to prove where you belong, or even who you are? Is it a status that is held, or a process that is lived; a condition moved in and out of, or a concept rooted only in international law? Does it matter if you were displaced, or how – across political frontiers or within the territory of a state? How does it inform our understanding of citizenship? Between eleven and fi fteen million people across the globe are recognised as ‘stateless’ (UNHCR 2010). Many millions more are either unable to prove their nationality or simply cannot rely on state protection. Some are prevented from moving or marrying, many are prevented from accessing schools, hospitals and the job market. Most have few of the rights and freedoms we take for granted.