ABSTRACT

Katherine, a community worker and activist with whom I spoke in the summer of 2003, has been concerned about issues of inequality, race, class, and gender for nearly twenty years in London.2 Her statement above refl ects what it means to be a citizen at large in Britain, while at the same time echoing the exclusionary tensions that lie at the core of citizenship. This quotation emphasizes that whereas people in Britain generally do not know, or have a tangible sense of, what it really

means to be a citizen, black people, other ethnic minorities3 (e.g., South Asians and Africans), and poor, working-class women have experienced exclusion and know what it feels like not to be a citizen. It is precisely citizenship’s inherently contradictory ties to equality and inequality, belonging and (un)belonging, that continue to make this concept important at several levels-theoretical, political, social, and cultural.