Empty Citizenship: Protesting Politics in the Era of Globalization



Globalization is often indexed by the rise of a consumerist ethos and the expansion of the market economy at the expense of state-centric formulations of politics and citizenship. This article explores the politics and practices of gendered democratic citizenship in an educational setting when that setting is newly reconfigured as a commodity under neoliberal privatization efforts. This entails an attention to discourses of consumption as they intersect postcolonial cultural-ideological political fields. Focusing on the contemporary trajectory among politicized male college students of a historically important masculinist “political public” in Kerala, India, the article tracks an explicit discourse of “politics”(rashtriyam). This enables an exploration of a struggle over the meaning of democratic citizenship that opposes a political public rooted in a tradition of anticolonial struggle and postcolonial nationalist politics to that of a “civic public,” rooted in ideas about the freedom to consume through the logic of privatization.