Müller, Tanja R. “Acts of Citizenship as a Politics of Resistance? Reflections on Realizing Concrete Rights within the Israeli Asylum Regime.” Citizenship Studies (early view; online first).
This paper investigates how Eritrean refugees in Israel and civil society organisations who engage with refugee issues contest the exclusionary politics of asylum in Israel. It presents various acts of claims-making initiated by Eritrean refugees themselves or in response to hostility by others, as well as acts inaugurated by Israeli civil society organisations on behalf of or with refugee populations. Drawing on the concept of activist acts of citizenship developed by Engin Isin, the paper subsequently analyses to what degree those acts have redefined aspects of social and political membership for Eritrean refugees in Israel. In a further step, it shows the limitations of such acts in terms of developing a solidaristic refugee-citizen agenda that profoundly challenges hegemonic public discourse and political debate. The paper concludes by arguing that activist acts of citizenship are best studied in relation to the transformative power they may have on the various individuals engaging in them, but not as a strategy for a wider politics of resistance, as ultimately nation state politics continue to determine the actual realisation of concrete rights.