Good datazens: New questions about technologies of good citizenship

datazensCostica Dumbrava | Technologies of collecting, sharing and analysing information have become central to contemporary policies of migration, border management and citizenship. In Europe and elsewhere, the establishment and gradual expansion of information databases, together with the deployment of a complex operational infrastructure for data collection, information sharing and risk analysis, plays an increasing role in managing migration and in determining access to key membership rights (entry, asylum, stay and freedom of movement). Continue reading

European information systems in the area of justice and home affairs

Costica Dumbrava |Published in: European information systems in the area of justice and home affairs,  European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS)

cyber_aHigh levels of irregular migration and the increase in transnational terrorist activities have pushed the EU to take concerted measures to strengthen its external borders and to enhance internal security. The revision and development of information systems for border management and law enforcement has been a key aspect of this response. Continue reading

Imagined genetic membership

Costica Dumbrava|Published in: Citizenship and Technology, Oxford Handbook of Citizenship

windows-787486_960_720The genetic revolution triggered by the discovery of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and bolstered by the recent mapping of all human genes (the Human Genome Project) has raised hopes about treating diseases, improving life, and even defeating death. However, the rapid development of genetic technologies also prompted concerns about the ‘geneticization’ of social life,[1] as human behaviour and social interactions are increasingly viewed through the lens of genetics. The worry is that population genomics studies will contribute to legitimizing and ‘naturalizing’ inequality and to the designation of new vulnerable groups based on arbitrary patterns and statistical correlations.[2] Continue reading

Ethnic un-mixing in Eastern Europe?


Costica Dumbrava | Published in Introduction: Citizenship in Post-communist Eastern Europe, Central and Eastern European Migration Review

pexels-photo-262488After 1990 most Eastern European countries acted as ‘nationalising states’ (Brubaker 1996), seeking to secure the control of the core ethnic majority over state institutions and over the official definition of the nation. Citizenship policies have been used to ensure the unity of the nation within and across state borders (Pogonyi, Kovács and Körtvélyesi 2010). Whereas the explicit exclusion from citizenship based on ethnic grounds was prohibited by international norms, which most of these countries were forced to accept as a condition for European and transatlantic integration, indirect exclusion based on seemingly legitimate grounds was still possible. For example, Estonia and Latvia effectively denaturalised large proportions of their populations by reinstating their pre-Soviet citizenship laws and thus excluding from citizenship all Soviet-era immigrants and their descendants (Gelazis 2000). Continue reading

Anticipatory minority rights for majorities turning into minorities

Costica Dumbrava | Published in Verfassungsblog

Concerns about national, cultural and demographic preservation have become increasingly salient in the age of migrations and globalisation. Liav Orgad fittingly points to recent political reactions to the influx of refugees in Europe and to broader trends towards relinking citizenship and migration policies with concerns about national identity and cultural integration. He is right to complain about the reluctance among political theorists to engage systematically with these developments. I fully agree with Orgad that ignoring these issues is both “theoretically wrong” and “politically unwise”. However, I disagree that majorities have special majority rights that can be defended on the same normative basis as minority rights. I argue that if a current majority group is worried about its rights, it should genuinely support minority rights in anticipation of its future minority status. Continue reading

Welcome to E-stonia! E-residence and Citizenship in an Electronic Republic

Costica Dumbrava | Published in: EUDO Citizenship Blog, European University Institute

estonia-eresidenceIn 2014 Estonia launched an e-residence scheme through which non-resident foreigners could obtain an Estonian digital identity card. The digital card allows people to access a series of digital services such as enabling them to create and use electronic signatures, launch and manage companies, do online banking, etc. The procedure for obtaining the card is quite simple. Apart from providing several standard items such as application form, national ID, and personal photo, the applicants must pay a fee (€50 in 2014) and submit a written explanation “concerning the intention to use the digital ID and the circumstance of its use”. If granted, the digital card will be issued within 15 days. The policy rationale for the Estonian e-residency card is economic. The emphasis is on encouraging entrepreneurship and attracting business by removing administrative barriers as well as bypassing migration regulations. By aiming to attract 10 million e-Estonians by 2025 in a country of 1.3 million citizens, the government seeks to boost Estonia’s competitiveness on the global market. This adds to other Estonian business friendly measures such as tax-free for profit reinvestment and championing digital services. Notwithstanding the economic merits of the e-residence scheme, it is worth exploring its implications for citizenship. Is e-residence a membership status? Could e-residence trigger claims of membership as physical residence usually does? Continue reading

Bloodlines and Belonging: Time to Abandon Ius Sanguinis?

reprodCostica Dumbrava | Published in: EUDO Citizenship Forum, European University Institute

The transmission of citizenship status from parents to children is a widespread modern practice that offers certain practical and normative advantages. It is relatively easy to distribute legal status to children according to parents’ citizenship, especially in the context of high mobility where the links between persons and their birthplace are becoming increasingly strained. Granting citizenship status to children of citizens may also be desirable as a way of avoiding statelessness, acknowledging special family links and fostering political links between children and the political community of their parents. These apparent advantages of ius sanguinis citizenship are, however, outweighed by a series of problems. Continue reading

Rolling back history: The Romanian policy of restoration of citizenship to former citizens

Romania and EUCostica Dumbrava | Published in: Citizenship in Southeast Europe, University of Edinburgh

After the fall of the communist regime, Romania adopted legal provisions regarding the facilitated re-acquisition of citizenship by former citizens and their descendants. According to the 1991 citizenship law, former citizens who “have had their citizenship withdrawn against their will or for other reasons not imputably to them” could reacquire Romanian citizenship without having to renounce other citizenship(s) or take up residence in the country. These provisions aimed at restoring Romanian citizenship particularly to former citizens and their descendants who inhabited the territories lost by Romania in 1940, namely Bessarabia, now the Republic of Moldova, Northern Bukovina and Southern Bessarabia, now part of Ukraine. This policy has attracted important criticism from various domestic and external stakeholders, including possible beneficiaries, governments of neighbouring countries and European politicians. Overtly passionate arguments and a search for sensationalism seem to dominate the debates about the restoration of Romanian citizenship, thus obscuring the complex purposes and implications of the policy. In this short piece, I point out various justifications of this policy and underline several of its major implications. Continue reading