Complicating Citizenship: International, National and Personal Identities in a Neo-Liberal World

Year: 2015

Author: Cary, Lisa, Pruyn, Marc

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This presentation aims to complicate the notion of citizen in its lived and material forms, and to trouble relatively non-problematic views of citizenship. In the last decade, there has been growing interest in conducting research that addresses issues of race, class and gender in social education, often with a focus on how these constructs intersect with notions of citizenship and the citizen. Much of this work (Asher & Crocco, 2001; Cary, 2001; Houser & Kuzmic, 2001; Howard, 2001; Shinew, 2001; Pruyn, 2013) has explored ‘citizenship’ and ‘citizen’ as floating signifiers, unstable humanist concepts worthy of critical investigation.

Therefore, we have turned our attention to our current ‘home’. Australia is a very diverse society. We speak many languages, come from many cultures and—collectively and individually—hold a multitude of ethnic, religious, social class, gender and sexual orientation identities; and a full 25% of us, including the current and a recent past Prime Minister, were actually born overseas. Add to this the rich diversity and heritage of the continent’s first inhabitants, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of this continent—one of human kind’s longest enduring set of cultures—and the cultural tapestry of modern-day Australian society is even more unique. So then, what does this mean in terms of how we see ourselves today? As we seek to understand who we are, and what we are about—on our own and in groups—questions such as these arise:

• What does it mean to be an Australian citizen, resident or visitor?
• What does it mean to be Indigenous person in our society?
• Where do I fit in? Who am I?
• Who are we?

This presentation will discuss the highly personal and individualized nature of the type of research required to be conducted in this aspect of international, national and personal identity. Each of the presenters will draw upon personal experiences with aspects of citizenship with the aim of critiquing and contextualising their own narratives. This work intends to create spaces for the development of research methodology and a pedagogical model aimed at working within a teacher education setting for use in K-12 schools.