Reconfiguration of Citizenship Beyond State Boundaries in Rojava
This paper seeks to investigate different modes of practicing citizenship in two political settings. One, in which an ethno-national state sets boundaries of membership and excludes some groups accordingly. The other, a democratic confederal system where neither state nor ethnic boundaries play a role in the configuration of citizenship. This empirical study looks at the individual perceptions and experiences of membership by stateless persons living in Rojava before and after the establishment of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria. The stateless Kurds in the north of Syria, in the time of the Ba’ath government, had limited access to resources and their social life was restricted. When northern Syria (‘Rojava’) went through fundamental institution-building to implement democratic self-administration and confederalism, the conceptualisation of citizenship changed within the context of reclaiming power from the State. This is understood as a transformation from people as state objects into active actors. My discussion here focuses on how the stateless groups develop a sense of belonging, reposition the political demands and arrange social engagement horizontally. An important issue emerging from the findings is that daily membership experiences are remarkably associated with active voluntary participation in the organisation of the community. In the self-organising system, regardless of the precarious legal status the persons are holding, citizenship content and consequences in daily life are more inclusionary and egalitarian.