Citizenship Capital & Political Power in Estonia
Trimbach, David Joseph
University of Kansas
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Citizenship is an underlying aspect of our geopolitical landscape and everyday political experiences. Citizenship is often accepted as a natural and universal form of legal and/or political membership that binds a nation to a territorial state; however, citizenship is a multidimensional and polyvalent construct that can be applied to critically examine the intersection of relational and spatial power. I operationalize citizenship as an embodied and enacted form of capital, a valued resource and form of distinction, whereby state-ascribed political power is relationally and spatially differentiated and fragmented. I utilize this critical interpretation by examining the ongoing Estonian citizenship dilemma. Drawing on my methodological engagement with Estonian Russian-speakers in Narva and Tallinn, Estonia, I examine the relationships among Russian-speakers’ embodied and enacted citizenship capital and political power in Estonia. Through a mixed-methodological approach that emphasizes descriptive citizenship narratives, I illustrate how and why Estonian Russian-speakers embody and enact citizenship through their own perceptions, practices, and identities. Although Estonia and Estonian Russian-speakers provide a unique research site to explore citizenship and political power, this geographic example brings to the fore much broader theoretical and practical implications by elucidating how minorities of disparate citizenship statuses and spatial communities engage with place, citizenship, nationalizing states, and democratic processes.
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