Migrant Belongings

Engin Isin

Abstract: Digital Citizens Yet to Come

How are people performing rights by disrupting corporate, governmental, and military organizations in and by acting through the Internet? Such acts are bringing new political subjects into being and it is necessary that we understand the emerging legal, performative, and imaginary forces making these political subjects possible. Making rights claims through the Internet involves a tension between acts of closing that give control over the conventions of the Internet to governments and corporations and acts of opening through which people invent new conventions, repeat, iterate, cite, or resignify old conventions. This tension is the performative force producing the conditions for digital citizenship. Making digital rights claims by saying and doing ‘I, we, or they have a right to’ is effectively producing digital citizens as collective political subjects.


Engin Isin is Professor in International Politics at Queen Mary University of London. His research and teaching focus on doing international politics: the ways in which people constitute themselves as actors or subjects of international politics through performances, movements, and struggle. Engin has undertaken historical and political sociological studies of British imperial and colonial practices in Africa, America, Asia and Middle East, Ottoman imperial and colonial practices in Europe and Middle East and North Africa and French colonialism in Quebec, Haiti, and Algeria. He has also conducted historical sociology of citizenship in Canada and Europe. The driving force in all Engin’s studies has been the tension between imperial, colonial or national designs for conduct of people and how people subvert these designs by performative acts and invent political subjectivities. This is the tension he often explores in how people constitute themselves as international citizens. Read more.