Citizenship By the People?

Unequal Worlds #13

In this episode of Unequal Worlds, we explore the topic of citizenship and its current state in diverse political contexts. The episode was recorded at a Breakfast Seminar at Bergen Global as part of the joint GRIP and Chr. Michelsens Institute (CMI) project Political Protests and New Forms of Citizenship. The discussants included Mari Norbakk from CMI and Giorgi Cheishvili from Tbilisi State University, moderated by Elina Troscenko from GRIP.


Citizenship is in crisis due to the rise of populist and authoritarian governments, and its inability to tackle challenges such as climate change, refugee crisis, and the pandemic. The commodification of citizenship and the closure of spaces for protest have also raised concerns among scholars. However, large-scale political protests are taking place, challenging authorities in instances where they seem to be losing legitimacy and people’s trust.


Citizenship may appear static, but it is constantly negotiated. The panelists shed light on different practices and understandings of citizenship in diverse political contexts, and how the dynamics of negotiating the relationship between the state and society take place under different political regimes.

The episode reveals how people are maneuvering a changing landscape and changing relations between the state and the people by drawing on examples from mainly Qatar, Egypt and Georgia and with references to Bahrain and Latvia.


The Panel:

Giorgi Cheishvili is a social anthropologist and his research covers topics such as state, nationalism, citizenship and borders. He has conducted extensive ethnographic research in Georgia and Turkey. He holds a PhD in social anthropology from the University of Bergen (Norway) and is currently a visiting lecturer at Tbilisi State University (Georgia).

Mari Norbakk is social anthropologist at Chr. Michelsens Institute and her work is focused on the Middle East, specifically Egypt and Qatar as well as migrant communities in Norway. Research interests include masculinities, marriage, gender, women’s rights, revolutionary practice, class, capital and migration.

Elina Troscenko (moderator) is the Head of the GRIP Secretariat. In her academic work she has been focusing on Soviet legacies in the Baltics, the Caucasus and Central Asia exploring issues relating to borders, citizenship and bureaucratic practices of the state in relation to marginalized populations.