The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Mon Apr 12, 2021
12–1 PM
Work in Progress Talk
Florian Grosser
Forced Migration and the demos: An Arendtian Approach

In recent years, political theory and philosophy have increasingly focused on issues related to migration. In addition to debates concerning freedom of movement v. freedom of association, a democratic state’s right to exclude v. its duty to include, or the social cohesion of receiving societies, questions of political membership and community have been discussed controversially: Is the demos comprised of those who are members qua birth, i.e. of citizens to whom alone the justification of political authority is owed? Or is this scope too narrow to determine whether such authority is legitimate so that the demos is to include all those who are subjected to or affected by it?

It is in light of these questions that Hannah Arendt’s writings on forced migration, strongly informed by her own experience of displacement and statelessness, are of renewed interest. In a departure from dominant conceptions, Arendt develops an alternative understanding of democratic community in terms of ‘residency’ rather than (birth right) citizenship. My aim in this talk is to bring out the significance of this conception for contemporary debates on the boundaries of the demos. I shall situate Arendt’s interpretation of democratic community in the broader context of her analyses of the migrant condition. I shall also explicate her idea that ‘real democracy’ cannot be reduced to the protection of (native) citizens’ interests and rights, and that it essentially hinges on giving participatory standing to forced migrant ‘newcomers’.

Zoom Link: