‘I didn’t think I would be emotional until I started saying the oath’ – emotionalising and ritualising citizenship

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The quote in the title from a newly naturalised citizen emphasises that taking an oath and affirming one’s loyalty to a new country can be experienced as a surprisingly emotional matter. But how does the ritual transformation of migrant identities turn into an emotional experience? This paper explores primarily the emotional dimension of naturalisation rituals and the distributed agency involved in two concrete cases from Australia and Denmark. Although practical reasons may be considered to be the most important motivating factor when it comes to applying for citizenship, these are often mixed with a more identity-based perception of citizenship as a symbol of affiliation with the new society. And citizenship ceremonies become one of the occasions in which the symbolic and emotional dimensions of citizenship are enacted. Thus, the introduction of ceremonies in an increasing number of countries may be considered a step towards the emotionalisation of citizenship, in order to ensure cohesion, unity, and a sense of belonging, since the emotional significance of citizenship is considered to be a guarantee for loyalty and the desired civil awareness.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Pages (from-to)2701-2716
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • Citizenship, distributed agency, emotionalisation, naturalisation, ritualisation

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ID: 197800042