Virtually all the population of the world is composed of citizens of one or more countries or territories. Citizenship is an assigned legal status, which the majority of us never choose or consciously think about and therefore it is prone to being taken for granted: a constant part of our life, a seemingly natural part of our world. Such status appears to correlate with the most fundamental aspects of life, such as mortality (a Somalian child is 50 times more likely not to survive the first 5 years of life than a child in Japan or Finland), mobility (a Swede can easily travel to 174 countries, while an Afghani can only manage 21, in practice none), and often contributes to a sense of belonging or pride. People are often required and not infrequently willing to die for it.

This course will focus on the many facets of the notion of citizenship approached in their contextualized evolution – from ‘a right to have rights’ to a ‘birthright lottery’. As the last overwhelmingly important resource distributed in the contemporary world in accordance with purely feudal principles of blind chance and with no regard to the personal talents, achievements, or desires, citizenship is in the middle of a global transformation, which we will trace together. We will trace the complex story of citizenship from a pre-citizenship world of classical antiquity and the Middle Ages to the (re-)birth of the idea following the French revolution and its instrumentalisation by the nation-states to the contemporary rise in cosmopolitanism, personhood and the fading away of the citizenship–rights link in the affluent constitutional democracies countries around the world. Although still crucially important, the natural development of citizenship seemingly pushes this status away from the center-stage. Access to key rights is increasingly getting disconnected from the possession of a particular legal status and the cultivation of thick identities is more and more difficult to justify in a word of professed tolerance, multiculturalism and respect for the other. Also citizenship duties are in decline. This process is significantly amplified by the birth of supranational citizenships, like the citizenship of the European Union (those interested in this particular aspect of the citizenship story are warmly invited to join my 1 US credit course on ‘Supranational Citizenship and Belonging’ this semester). I invite you to a walk through an assemblage of a number of crucial citizenship ideas and ideologies which, although they still greatly inform the functioning of the world today, are definitely (luckily, as we shall see) past their prime.

GOALS: The course’s core objective is to provide a critical global engagement with the concept of citizenship.




- Knowledge of the basics of global citizenship law and ability of its critical evaluation;

- Critical regard of the key theories underlying the concept of citizenship and its functioning;

- Evaluation of key rules and theories in terms of internal coherence and practical outcomes;

- Skills to work with case-law from different eras and jurisdictions;

- All the natural benefits of working intensively in a small diverse intellectually engaged group: critical thinking; multicultural interpersonal skills; communication skills.



Class attendance is required and is indispensable for following the story of citizenship in a fruitful way. Students are expected to have closely read all the materials assigned for each class and are encouraged to read broader than the obligatory assigned materials (usually in the range of 25.000 words). Further reading is provided for each class for this purpose. Having this background knowledge is crucial: students are expected to be in the position to engage critically with the readings. Every student is expected to participate fully and actively in class discussions. Participation in and preparation for our in-class conversation is a critical part of the course and will be taken into account in assessing the final grade: Prof. Kochenov will collect 300–500-words summaries of each of the obligatory readings assigned before each class. The summaries are submitted in hard copy and only signed by a student number to ensure anonymity. The summaries are graded pass/fail. Students who receive a fail or fail to submit the summaries of the required readings one time in the course of the semester are entitled to resubmit. Failure to submit suitable summaries the second time will result in a lower grade. Second resubmission will not be possible.

Final assessment: students will be expected to write a 5.000–7.000-words essay over the course of the semester. In each essay, the students are expected to critically engage with the themes of the seminar in light of the assigned readings and class discussions. The topic is selected in consultation with Prof. Kochenov, who will also be available to offer comments on the initial structure and on the draft close to completion. The grade for the essay is the final grade for this course, unless of course you failed the summaries of the obligatory readings for the second time during the semester, in which case the grade is lowered.