, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 367–388 | Cite as

Citizenship in flux: The figure of the activist citizen

  • Engin F Isin
Original Article


Throughout the twentieth century the figure of citizenship that has been dominant since the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries has begun to change. We have witnessed the emergence of new rights including ecological, sexual and indigenous rights as well as blurring of the boundaries between human and civil, political and social rights and the articulation of rights by (and to) cities, regions and across states. We have witnessed the birth of new ‘acts of citizenship’: both organized and spontaneous protests to include situationist and carnivalesque forms. We have also witnessed the emergence of ‘activist’ international courts (and judges), as well as new media and social networking as sites of struggles. How subjects act to become citizens and claim citizenship has thus substantially changed. This article interprets these developments as heralding a new figure of citizenship, and begins the important task of developing a new vocabulary by which it can be understood.


activist citizenship sites scales rights 



I thank the audiences at Central European University, Loughborough University, Durham University, Leeds University and Oxford University who provided challenging responses to earlier drafts of this article. The two anonymous reviewers provided insightful and helpful comments. I also thank Rutvica Andrijasevic who was a superb editor and, beyond discovering an early version of this article languishing in my hard disk, she provided a perceptive reading and precise comments. I am also grateful to Bridget Anderson for her close reading of an earlier draft and very useful comments. I am most grateful to Vicki Squire who provided insightful and incisive criticisms of a late draft. Responding to her comments made it undoubtedly a much stronger article.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Engin F Isin
    • 1
  1. 1.Politics and International Studies (POLIS), The Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK

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