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Naturalisation policies beyond a Western focus

Tobias Schwarz


Naturalisations do not happen automatically – unlike the acquisition of nationality at birth – but must be brought about deliberately. The varying ways naturalisations are organized in any society therefore offer an opportunity to gain clues as to which criteria are assumed to be relevant for the respective definition of national belonging. This introduction argues that most research on naturalisation still focusses on Western states, and that theories of naturalisation are largely derived from Western cases. It describes the ethnocentric bias of much of the universalizing comparative research on naturalisations, and outlines the main reasons for the lack of research beyond the West. It then presents the articles on naturalisation policies in the Global South brought together in this special issue. The contributions analyse ethnically exclusive nationality laws in Liberia and Israel; selective two-tier regimes of immigrant incorporation in Hong Kong and Singapore; investor citizenship schemes which are much more common in the Global South than in the North, exemplified by the case of Mauritius; and Mexico, whose norms assign naturalised Mexicans the status of “second-class citizens”.


naturalisation; citizenship; nationality; politics of belonging; Global South

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