12th Annual Conference in Citizenship Studies: Governance and Citizenship

Date and time

March 12 - 14, 2015

About the conference

The affordances of citizenship are bound in many ways to structures of governance that provide and at the same time deny access to power. While formal structures of governance establish rights and responsibilities, there are many additional forms of governance people use to orchestrate and affirm their community membership, among them are civic organizations, community groups, and NGOs. The 2015 annual conference will explore the many dimensions of the theme of governance and citizenship.


Student Center Building
Wayne State University
5221 Gullen Mall
Detroit, MI 48202 (map)


Keynote: Frederick Cooper

Distinguished NYU historian of Africa.

Presentations and notes


The Center for the Study of Citizenship’s 12th Annual Conference was, in the words of one frequent participant, “another home run.” Over 70 scholars gathered to discuss the relationship between government and citizenship. Although the center examines citizenship as membership in a community, the roots of the idea of citizenship lay in the relationship of the individual to the state. And that core idea was central to the conference.

The conference is international. Eleven participants came from Hong Kong, India, Canada, Germany, Jordan, Colombia, and Barbados.

Among the many highlights was an excellent keynote address by the distinguished NYU historian of Africa, Frederick Cooper, who discussed, The Relationship of Citizenship to the Demise of France’s African Empire after World War II; and a remarkable panel discussion of the Detroit bankruptcy.

Keynote address: The Relationship of Citizenship to the Demise of France’s African Empire after World War II

Panel discussion on Detroit bankruptcy

The bankruptcy panel was moderated beautifully by Nathan Bomey, who covered the bankruptcy for the Detroit Free Press; former city councilwoman Sheila Cockrel; Laura Trudeau from the Kresge Foundation, Shirley Lightsey, who leads the association of retired city workers; Ryan Plecha, an attorney who represented many of the retirees; and Laura Trudeau, who played an instrumental role in the development of the so-called “grand bargain.” It was a remarkable afternoon and was followed by a visit to the DIA, one of the major beneficiaries of the bargain.

Over 75 people attended a reception to launch a new book series about Citizenship Studies. A joint project of the center and the Wayne State University Press, the series got off to a splendid beginning with the publication of Generations: Rethinking Age and Citizenship. The volume was edited by Richard Marback, professor of English at Wayne State University and co-editor of the book series. Center Director, Marc Kruman, is the other editor. In addition to Generations, the press and the center announced the publication of three more volumes over the next year, including Reconfiguring Citizenship and National Identity in the North American Literary Imagination, by Kathy-Ann Tan of the University of Bremen; The Meaning of Citizenship, edited by Richard Marback and Marc Kruman; and Acts of Angry Writing: On Citizenship and Orientalism in Post-Colonial India by Alessandra Marino of the Open University in the United Kingdom.

At the conference, the center also announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Australian Catholic University of Melbourne’s Institute for Religion and Politics. The principal investigators are Bryan Turner and Joshua Roose of ACU and Marc Kruman and Saeed Khan of WSU. The institute and the center will collaborate on research projects about Detroit and Melbourne, the development of an online MA program on urban reinvention, the development of a digital archive relating to the recent histories of Detroit and Melbourne, and on a volume of essays to be published in the center’s series in Citizenship Studies. ACU and WSU will make a formal announcement of their collaboration in the next academic year.

Finally, the Michigan Nonprofit Association and the Michigan Campus Compact have selected the center to write the 2015 Michigan Civic Health Index Report, which will deepen Michiganians’ understanding of the civic well-being of their state. The report will be written this summer and published in the fall.