BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    Citizenship as barrier and opportunity for ancient Greek and modern refugees

    Gray, Benjamin (2018) Citizenship as barrier and opportunity for ancient Greek and modern refugees. Humanities 7 (3), ISSN 2076-0787.

    BGrayCitizenshipBarrierandOpportunity.pdf - Published Version of Record
    Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

    Download (3MB) | Preview


    Some dominant traditions in Refugee Studies have stressed the barrier which state citizenship presents to the displaced. Some have condemned citizenship altogether as a mechanism and ideology for excluding the weak (G. Agamben). Others have seen citizenship as an acute problem for displaced people in conditions, like those of the modern world, where the habitable world is comprehensively settled by states capable of defending their territory and organised in accordance with interstate norms, which leaves very limited space for the foundation of new communities with their own meaningful citizenship (H. Arendt). This paper engages with these prominent approaches, but also with more recent arguments that, when handled and adapted in the right way, the practices and ideology of citizenship also present opportunities for the displaced to form their own meaningful communities, exercise collective agency, and secure rights. It is argued that the evidence from ancient Greece shows that ancient Greek citizenship, an early forerunner of modern models of citizenship, could be imaginatively harnessed and adapted by displaced people and groups, in order to form effective and sometimes innovative political communities in exile, even after opportunities to found new city-states from scratch became quite rare (after c. 500 BC). Some relevant displaced groups experimented with more open and cosmopolitan styles of civic interaction and ideology in their improvised quasi-civic communities. The different kinds of ancient Greek informal ‘polis-in-exile’ can bring a new perspective on the wider debates and initiatives concerning refugee political agency and organisation in the ‘provocations’ in the special issue of which this article forms part.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Refugees, exile, city-state, polis, Ancient Greece, citizenship, agency, cosmopolitanism
    School: School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > History, Classics and Archaeology
    Depositing User: Benjamin Gray
    Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2018 10:13
    Last Modified: 15 Jun 2021 00:39


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item