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The Politics of Belonging

The Politics of Belonging
Intersectional Contestations

November 2011 | 264 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

In this groundbreaking book, Nira Yuval-Davis provides a cutting-edge investigation of the challenging debates around belonging and the politics of belonging. Alongside the hegemonic forms of citizenship and nationalism which have tended to dominate our recent political and social history, the author examines alternative contemporary political projects of belonging constructed around the notions of religion, cosmopolitanism, and the feminist 'ethics of care'. The book also explores the effects of globalization, mass migration, the rise of both fundamentalist and human rights movements on such politics of belonging, as well as some of its racialized and gendered dimensions. A special space is given to the various feminist political movements that have been engaged as part of or in resistance to the political projects of belonging.

The author deconstructs notions of national and ethnic and interrogates the effects that different political projects of belonging have on members of these collectivities who are differentially located socially, economically, and politically.

The Politics of Belonging will appeal to students and researchers in a range of disciplines including women's and gender studies, sociology, cultural studies, theology and religious studies, and political science.

Introduction: Framing the Questions
The Citizenship Question: Of the State and Beyond
The National Question: From the Indigenous to the Diasporic
The Religious Question: The Sacred, the Cultural and the Political
The Cosmopolitan Question: Situating the Human and Human Rights
The Caring Question: The Emotional and the Political
Concluding Remarks

This is an in-depth examination of a slippery and contradictory subject. Knowledge alone is not enough for this type of project. It takes breaking out of narrow conceptual cages and unsettling what we think of as stable meanings. The author brings all of this to life in often unforgettable ways.

Saskia Sassen
Professor, Columbia University and author of 'Territory, Authority, Rights'

National identities were once taken largely for granted in social science. Now they are part of an even more complex "politics of belonging" that challenges both public affairs and the categories of social science. Nira Yuval-Davis offers a nuanced account that will be important for scholars and all those concerned with contemporary politics.

Craig Calhoun
President, Social Science Research Council

Nira Yuval-Davis always pushes the feminist envelope. Here she guides us through the thickets of five questions that preoccupy all of us today , shining a bright light on the fraught dynamics of "belonging." One of the innovations of The Politics of Belonging is to introduce us to specific feminist groups and movements tackling each one of these five thorny questions. I've learnt a lot, as I always do when guided by Nira Yuval-Davis.

Cynthia Enloe
Author of 'Nimo's War, Emma's War: Making Feminist Sense of the Iraq War'

Nira Yuval-Davis has written an important book on the politics of belonging. As a result of her anti-racist, socialist version of feminist political commitment she has always approached the issues of gender and gender relations intersectionally; this stands as a key feature of her work overall and of this particular book... Yuval- Davis thus provides a mapping of the ‘politics of belonging’ applied to different environments and she does it with exquisite sophistication and attention to detail by including a wide range of theories and authors.

Montserrat Guibernau, Queen Mary, University of London

This book is a major contribution to debates about how we can understand the intersections between multiple forms of identification and belonging which structure social relations. It argues that analyses and political projects which privilege particular axes of identity are always incomplete and limiting and thus always make for inadequate social science and dangerous politics... Yuval-Davis’ scholarship is always concerned with understanding the social world in order to change it – in a more meaningful way than that captured by the now ubiquitous term ‘impact’.

Ben Gidley, University of Oxford

The book provides the reader with a dense theoretical description and exhaustive examples, which cover a range of disciplines such as Political Science, Sociology, Philosophy, Gender Studies and Cultural Studies. Furthermore, it not only gathers multiple aspects for a critical analysis of the slippery and complex manifestations and dynamics of belonging in contemporary political projects, but it is also a valid tool for fostering
awareness and mobilization strategies, especially for feminist movements.

Giulia D’Odorico
Ethnic and Racial Studies

This is a timely and important book which addresses key contemporary issues around thethemes of belonging and the politics of belonging... The Politics of Belonging is an ambitious and pertinent book which sets out to equipsociologists, political scientists and others with the tools to analyse complex contemporarydebates in this field. Applied in specific contexts, this book is another potential classic, andmay well emerge as the definitive text on the politics of belonging.

Naaz Rashid
British Journal of Sociology

Yuval-Davis draws the contents skillfully together with the help of theoretical frame... The literary contribution is valuable to understanding contemporary political projects of belonging, and how the boundaries of belonging are constructed with different naturalized signifiers. Besides ample examples from grassroots movements to supranational projects, also numerous footnotes provide the reader [with] easily accessible online references... Yuval-Davis's literal contribution is more than topical as it explores the slippery and complex phenomenon of belonging as well as its manifestations and dynamics in contemporary political projects.

Mari Toivanen
Nordic Journal of Migration Research

In this book, the author outlines a specific approach to the infinite number of inherent difficulties in tackling the major categories of social division in modern societies, along with their normative significance... The sense of balance and differentiation is a constant throughout the analysis in this book and it is this, along with the general strength of argumentation, which gives the concluding arguments their weight. The capacities of individual and collective actors to negotiate the increasingly dynamic, complex and involved processes of changing attachment, value and meaning are at the core of Yuval-Davis’s perspective upon the contemporary politics of belonging.

Kieran O’Connor
Irish Journal of Sociology

This was adopted for the course on gender and identities. It was subsequently purchased by our library and forms part of essential reading for level 6 students

Dr Sheila Quaid
social sciences, university of sunderland
September 27, 2012

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter One

Nira Yuval-Davis

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