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Citizenship on the Margins: A Critique of Scholarship on Marginalized Women and Community Activism



This critical review essay addresses the underappreciation of citizenship inequalities in scholarship on marginalized women’s community activism in the United States. Although both students of citizenship and women’s grassroots resistance argue that neither citizenship nor lived experience is an individual-level phenomenon or a public issue divorced from private troubles and that politics need not be formal and male, the two literatures do not break bread with each other. I contend that this lack of cross-pollination owes to our fixation on the hallowed trifecta of race, class, gender intersectionality, but one that has elided the fact that the three have always constituted, and been constituted by, citizenship. Despite the fact that in recent decades immigrant women of color have taken the helm of community campaigns – such as in social reproduction (e.g. schools, churches, health), Environmental Justice, and immigration reform – few scholars mention citizenship and thus few analyze citizenship racism and its ties to other axes of inequality. I critique the existing scholarship by drawing on the contributions of the few works that analyze and intersect citizenship within women’s community resistance struggles. I then point to future research directions to underscore their importance in an age of more exclusionary and draconian citizenship paradigms.