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"Testing for Membership: Civic Integration for Immigrants in Western Europe"

Thursday, 6 February 2014 - 4:00pm
IMU State Room West

Lecture by Dr. Sara Wallace Goodman, Professor of Political Science at the University of California Irvine.

Immigrant integration has become one of the more visible and controversial political issues in Europe today, fueling popularity in far right parties and a renewed politics of citizenship more generally. Since the turn of the 21st century, several Western European states have unraveled comprehensive civic integration policies to prepare immigrants for political and labor market participation, as well as general, everyday life in a new country. Through mandatory integration courses, language and knowledge tests, interviews, contracts, oaths, etc., the state has carved out a new, managerial role for itself in not merely promoting but ensuring integration, where acquisition of permanent residence and citizenship are contingent on completing these requirements. But have states adopted civic integration policy for the same reason? Are we seeing a convergence of immigrant integration policy or, as some argue, the replacement of national understandings of belonging for post-national ones? This talk examines these questions by arguing that states have adopted similar policies but for distinct reasons, under different policy and political conditions. The talk illustrates how civic integration policies have not replaced but rather fortified national understandings of membership.

Sara Wallace Goodman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Irvine. Her research focuses on the politics of citizenship, addressing a variety of related issues including immigrant integration, national identity, and immigration policymaking. She is the author of Civic Integration and Membership Politics in Europe (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). Her work has appeared in World Politics, West European Politics, Political Studies, and The Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.