Locating the post-national activist: Migration rights, civil society and the practice of post-nationalism

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Theorists of post-nationalism examine the (re)configuration of national identity, membership and rights. Yet while normative scholarship has conceptualized post-nationalism as an ongoing practice of discursive contestation over the role of national group membership in liberal democratic societies, more empirical studies have tended to overlook these features to predominantly focus instead on top-down legal and political institution-building as evidence of post-nationalism. In this article I argue in favour of an empirical conceptualization of post-nationalism which more effectively captures micro-level practices of discursive contestation. Specifically I posit that post-national activists, or actors engaging in post-national practices of contestation from within the state, are a key focus of analysis for scholars of post-nationalism. I develop this claim through the analysis of data collected with individuals working on civil society campaigns for migration rights in Europe, Australia and the USA who–I demonstrate–embody many of the characteristics of the post-national activist.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-177
Number of pages19
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number2
Early online date13 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2017 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercialNoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or
built upon in any way.

Funding: British Academy, grant ref. SG142335.


  • Activism
  • human rights
  • membership
  • migration
  • nationalism
  • post-nationalism


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