This introductory chapter provides an overview of citizenship. Citizenship, in most contemporary formulations, is a relationship between a state and individuals. Two of its features make it a particularly volatile framework. First, it defines inclusion—in a formal sense of membership in a polity and a more subjective sense of belonging—and therefore it also defines exclusion. Second, citizenship melds a person's rights and his or her obligations to a state, so that a state that wishes to enforce obligations faces the fact that the same set of expectations and rhetorics on which its power is based also underscore the claims of individuals to certain rights. One of the great debates of the postwar years among politicians and intellectuals in European and African France was how to reconcile a universalistic, egalitarian conception of citizenship with the particularity of African culture or cultures.
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