HY4B3      Half Unit
Citizenship in 20th century political thought: intellectual history in case studies

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Dina Gusejnova SAR M.14


This course is available on the MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation, MSc in History of International Relations, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International and Asian History, MSc in International and World History (LSE & Columbia) and MSc in Theory and History of International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The history of citizenship has often been linked both to the western Canon and to the rise of liberal democratic states, a connection which is itself the product of a particular lineage of teaching political philosophy and theory. This course will challenge students to re-examine this association in a critical light by revisiting changing conceptions of citizenship in twentieth-century European and global history. We will begin with two prominent critiques of the European tradition of political thought, which were launched in the wake of the First World War. From there, we will look back at the chief characteristics which had turned modern European and North American universities into global centres of the institutionalised study of citizenship and political obligation. In subsequent case studies, we will investigate alternative conceptions of civic consciousness, including competing ideas of rural self-government at the time of the Russian revolutions and in the early USSR, ideas of municipal self-government and the revival of cities in American and German political thought, the conceptualisation of denationalization and naturalisation entailed in the Nazi understanding of the Volk, postimperial forms of citizenship in the Anglophone and Francophone worlds, and competing conceptions of citizenship in the Cold War.


20 hours of seminars in the LT.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6 of the LT.

Formative coursework

At the end of Reading week, students will be expected to produce a 1,500 word literature review, in which they should discuss the twentieth-century reception of a premodern author on citizenship. This can be done by examining 20th century editions, translations, commentary, or discussion of a particular author in a specific linguistic or national setting.

Indicative reading

There is now a vast set of readings on the subject. The list below contains a selection of surveys and edited collections ranging from older approaches in liberal political theory of citizenship, to more recent and historically specific studies of citizenship in particular national contexts.

  • Alexander Aleinikoff and Douglas Klusmeyer, eds., Citizenship Today: Global Perspectives and Practices (Washington: Brookings Institution Press, 2010).
  • Richard Bellamy, Citizenship: A Very Short Introduction. Very Short Introductions (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).
  • Seyla Benhabib, The Rights of Others Aliens, Residents, and Citizens (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
  • Derek Heater, What Is Citizenship? (Malden, Mass: Polity Press, 1999).
  • Engin F. Isin and Peter Nyers, eds., Routledge Handbook of Global Citizenship Studies (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2014).
  • Niraja Gopal Jayal, Citizenship and Its Discontents: An Indian History (Harvard University Press, 2012)
  • Leigh Jenco, Making the Political: Founding and Action in the Political Theory of Zhang Shizhao (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010)
  • Ayelet Shachar, Rainer Bauböck, Irene Bloemraad, and Maarten Vink, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Citizenship. 1st ed. Oxford University Press, 2017.
  • Gershon Shafir (ed.) The Citizenship Debates: A Reader (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998).
  • Mira L. Siegelberg, Statelessness: A Modern History (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2020).
  • Bryan Turner, ‘Outline of a Theory of Citizenship,’ in Chantal Mouffe, Dimensions of Radical Democracy (London: Verso, 1992).


Essay (60%, 4000 words), presentation (20%) and source analysis (20%) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Controlled access 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

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Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills