Sovereignties and Citizenships – University of Copenhagen

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Sovereignties and Citizenships

Photo: Amanda Hammar


In both urban and rural spaces across Africa, diverse – and diversely valued – citizens and parallel sovereign authorities (state and non-state) are engaged in formal and informal processes to compete or cooperate over power, protection, rights; over movement, borders and territory; over property and natural resources; over identity, belonging and being. Combining strong conceptual and empirical orientations, the Research Platform on Sovereignties and Citizenships is concerned with exploring such processes and their consequences for differently positioned actors at varied scales. ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

‭The Platform takes as a starting point the fact that the African continent is a space of immense social, spatial, cultural, political and economic variation, constantly being reshaped by the simultaneities of crisis, continuity, creativity and contestation. Under such dynamic conditions, the ongoing challenges of state formation and nation-building and of everyday practices of governance, articulate with complex forms of and struggles over citizenship and personhood. These articulations and their effects occur in a range of material-symbolic arenas, for example forms and spaces of political participation; provision of public services, goods and security; access to or exclusion from land or housing; recognition and certifications of citizenship.

The Platform is concerned with a relational approach to sovereignties and citizenships that, among other things, connects the larger-scale structural interests, processes and effects with the smaller, intimate scales and all the linkages between. It includes attention to both social and institutional actors in formal and informal spaces and contexts. Specific projects in recent years have included research on: displacement economies; the relationship between property, authority, citizenship and personhood; urban displacement and resettlement; economies of anticipation; and contested forms of authority in processes of state-making. ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Central research questions concern:

  • State formation and the making of and contestations over multiple sovereignties‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬
  • The social production and representation of (diverse) citizenships and non-citizenship‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬
  • The paradoxes of displacement, resettlement and confinement‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬
  • ‭Increased linkages between securitization, governance, humanitarianism and development.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Platform Researchers:

Amanda Hammar, Professor with special responsibilities in African Studies (Platform Facilitator)
Hannah Rose Elliott, PhD.
Karen Lauterbach, Associate Professor
Toke Andreas Wolff, PhD. 
Holger Bernt Hansen, Professor Emeritus