Becoming-German: Integrationism, citizenship and territorialization of Germanness

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Abstract

Seeking to contribute to recent research on integrationism and its country-specific modalities, this article provides a spatial analysis of transformations of the institutional, legal and discursive landscape of state-migrant relations in Germany over the past few decades. Conceptually, it brings geographic focus on territory and the territorial into the analysis of state and population relations. Empirically, it traces a changing understanding of integration and Germanness, stressing in the first place how the ascendance of integrationism since the turn of the century superseded the previous regime of completely bifurcated policies for immigrants of German descent versus for those without it. This supersession has conceptually centered on the German state's acknowledgment of the foundational importance of one's actual experience of moving across the territorial border. The paper also examines the changing positionality and conception of integration policies and state-sanctioned discursive renditions of Germanness over time. Finally, bringing the transformation of formal citizenship legislation in Germany into the analysis, the paper stresses the recent centrality of the expansion of the principle of ius domicile and the emergence of the statutory right to naturalization. I argue that such transformations integral to the integrationist era signal first and foremost the territorialization of belonging and citizenship in Germany. The paper concludes by reflecting on the potentials and limits of such territorialization within the context of broader neoliberalization of citizenship as well as in relation to the assessments that integrationism has re-nationalized citizenship.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGeoforum
Volume113
Pages (from-to)60-68
ISSN0016-7185
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2020

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