Southeast Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - Precarity and the Dilemma of Citizenship of Rohingya

Saturday, July 7
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Cypress, New Building

The paper examines the procedure of making citizens and unmaking citizens in a modern state. The whole idea of becoming a citizen comes through the notion of a social contract in which individuals come together to form a sovereign state. In return, the state ensures security, dignity, social, political and economic needs for that it makes laws. Therefore the authority lies with the state on deciding citizens and non-citizens or as Agamben puts it bare lives. The question is how does state categorizes citizens? The paradox of citizenship lies here with marking out the identity, on which certain rights are given. These identities constitute the basis of for caste, language, religion, and sex etc., yet on the other hand, the universal notion of citizenship is often contested. It is this contestation within citizenship that will be addressed theoretically by taking the present crisis of Rohingyas as the recent case to mark out the particularities. The central idea is to unravel the religious identity vis-à-vis citizenship discourse, wherein the state tends to marginalize citizens on the basis of religion, first, by committing violence against minorities through majorities. The minorities in a state are slowly carved as marginal citizens, who lie somewhere between citizens and non-citizens and then finally state declares them as non-citizens by changing the laws as done to Rohingyas through the Myanmar citizenship act of 1982. The paper interrogates the citizenship discourse of Rohingya and what constitutes their narrative of marginalization in Burmese society. 

Nasreen Chowdhory

University of Delhi, India

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Meghna Kalja

University of Delhi, India

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