Engin Isin gave a talk at Corvinus University of Budapest on 27 June, 2013. This podcast is an audio recording of his talk. This conference contributed to the European Year of Citizens 2013 by stimulating debates about the promises and challenges of EU citizenship, notably in a Central and Eastern European context.
It drew on a European Commission Policy Review that synthesizes major findings of research projects on citizenship practices and democracy in Europe financed by the Socio-Economic Sciences and Humanities Programme. Engin was invited to give a talk on the findings of the ENACT project.
The ENACT project was completed in January 2011. It brought together researchers from three member states of the European Union (UK, Belgium and the Netherlands), two new member states (Hungary and Latvia) and a candidate state (Turkey) to explore in depth how European citizenship is claimed, disputed, built -- in short, enacted.
Engin here explains how ENACT approached the issue of citizenship in a broader canvas. He then presents the main findings of the research (05:50):
- Theoretically, the project has enabled a shift of focus from those who are enjoying European citizenship to those who are not enjoying this citizenship at all. By doing that, one grasps better what is at stake with European citizenship.
- Methodologically (07:55), the question was: how does one study those who do not enjoy citizenship? Engin reminds here that one of the difficulties encountered throughout the research was that those people don't necessarily use the language of citizenship. The research showed how important it is to study what people do, and not only how they articulate their claims. Empirical cases were used, such as the Kurdish people in Turkey, the Roma in Europe, Sex workers in Latvia.
Engin then concludes (11.15) with a new concept the project has singled out: 'activist citizen'. Activist citizens are those who are not by law or even by norm recognised as citizens, but are nonetheless using institutions that are available to them creatively to constitute themselves as if they were citizens.
The ENACT project has also become a book: Enacting European Citizenship, edited by Engin Isin and Michael Saward and published by Cambridge University Press (2013).