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6th Annual Conference in Citizenship Studies: Representing Citizenship

Date and time

March 27 - 28, 2009

About the conference

Depictions and descriptions of citizenship serve important purposes in a society. Among them, they embody membership in the community; they provide models, positive or negative, for civic behavior; and they disseminate and propagate ideas about citizenship. But how citizenship is depicted and described is contingent and historical, situated in specific times and places, articulated by different agents, and expressed and constituted through specific media.

For example, is a modern-day Kurd a citizen first of Iraq, the nation, or of his tribal community? How is he represented in literature, news media, film, art, and government records? Is she a citizen of a moral/religious as well as a social/political community? What features of each community stand out in representations of her? However depicted and described, citizens cannot always act for themselves, and thus must be represented in another sense; that is, a proxy – such as a lawyer, a member of congress, a civil rights group – represents his or her interests instead. What forms over time and in different communities, societies, and nations has this kind of representation taken?

The center invites examinations of the many dimensions of representation and citizenship.


Wayne State University Law School
471 W. Palmer
Detroit, MI 48202


Keynote: Will Kymlicka

2008 - 2009 Distinguished scholar in residence
Canada research chair in political philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Queen's University, Ontario, CA

Will is a leader in the field of multiculturalism and political philosophy, the author of six books published by Oxford University Press, a former president of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy, the editor of the Citizenship, Democracy and Ethnocultural Diversity Newsletter, the Canada research chair in Political Philosophy at Queen’s University, and a visiting professor in the Nationalist Studies Program at the Central European University in Budapest. His works, which also include 13 editor and co-editor credits and many, many articles, have been translated into 30 languages. His curriculum vita is nearly 36 pages long.

In 1984, Professor Kymlicka received his first professional accolade, the Commonwealth Scholarship, the year in which he also received his B.A. in Philosophy and political studies from Queen’s University. He was off to a rousing start. Every year since, he has been honored in some form or another, winning research prizes, governmental grants, a variety of fellowships, and writing awards. His most recent book, Multicultural Odysseys: Navigating the New International Politics of Diversity, won the North American Society for Social Philosophy Book Prize and was a finalist for the 2008 Lionel Gerber Book Prize in International Affairs. He is also a Trudeau Foundation Fellow.

Dr. Kymlicka is committed to scholarly pursuit. He sits on a number of advisory boards for various academic centers and research schools. He also referees articles for many academic journals and publishers, including Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Harvard University Press, Princeton University Press, Routledge, and so on. The list is lengthy.

Even so, Dr Kymlicka is known as a political theorist who is deeply engaged in real-world problems. He serves on numerous committees, boards, and councils for foundations and organizations and has also worked as an advisor to the Government of Canada. In addition to his scholarly presentations, he has spoken to the United Nations, the World Bank, the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs and First Nations, the Canadian Jewish Congress, the European Commission for Democracy, and, among many more, the National Army of Bolivia.

In the 22 years since Dr. Kymlicka received his doctorate in philosophy from Oxford University, he has been at the forefront of his field, studying how societies cope with issues generated by ethnic, racial, and linguistic diversity. He is a teacher, a researcher, a writer, a speaker, an advisor, an editor, and a policy analyst. His work is preeminent, his influence is sweeping, and his dedication is absolute. Undeniably, Will Kymlicka is at the heart of citizenship studies.


View conference program

Presentations and notes


Keynote address