Expanding Acts of Citizenship: The Struggles of Sinpapeles Migrants

Iker Barbero
Publication date: 
September 2012
Publication type: 
Journal article

This article investigates the acts of protest that occurred in the city of Barcelona and other Spanish cities in 2001 in response to imminent toughening of the Foreigners’ law 8/2000. The sit-ins, demonstrations and hunger strikes led to negotiation with the government and the government’s acceptance of some of the undocumented migrants or ‘sinpapeles’ demands for regularization of their status. At the same time, the sinpapeles also expressed a critique of the entire anti-immigrant border regime. These events demonstrated that citizenship could not be viewed exclusively as a fixed regime. Rather, it was a site for legal and political contestation. With the emergence of new subjects as claimants of rights, a number of scholars have pointed to the need for an alternative vocabulary of citizenship studies, one that includes certain practices that were previously excluded. The concept ‘acts of citizenship’ offers an approach to inves- tigating such actions that considers actors not currently recognized as legal and political subjects. Applying this concept to the struggles of the sinpapeles, this article demonstrates how a number of acts converted previously undocumented immigrants into subjects of legaity, and to a certain extent, into citizens.

Barbero, Iker (2012) 'Expanding Acts of Citizenship: The Struggles of Sinpapeles Migrants'. Social & Legal Studies, 1–19 (2012)

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