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Mapping Citizenship in India$
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Anupama Roy

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780198066743

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198066743.001.0001

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The Citizenship Act, 1955

The Citizenship Act, 1955

Liminal Citizenship at the Commencement of the Republic

(p.33) 1 The Citizenship Act, 1955
Mapping Citizenship in India

Anupama Roy

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the liminal spaces of citizenship that emerged in the interregnum between the enforcement of the Citizenship provisions as contained in the Constitution of India and the enactment of the Citizenship Act of 1955 through a study of archival material, primarily files pertaining to citizenship in the Indian Citizenship section of the Home Ministry in the 1950s, citizenship laws, and court judgments. The chapter argues that: (1) in the interregnum between constitutional provisions (1950) and the Citizenship Act (1955), citizenship in India occupied a zone of liminality; (2) the liminality of citizenship accrued from the fact that the interregnum embodied the threshold space between the nation-state and state-formation/making; (3) the occupation of a liminal space attributed citizenship with indeterminacy and ambiguity; (4) ‘registered/alien/Pakistani women/wives’, ‘minors’, and ‘displaced persons’ were liminal categories, in the sense that they signified both the uncertainty of the moment of passage and the change in status that such passage was to bring with it; and (5) the liminal state of citizenship was fraught with contests over precise legal categories in the absence of/in anticipation of the Citizenship Act and was imbricated in processes of state-formation and issues of national belonging.

Keywords:   luminal spaces, citizenship, Indian Constitution, Citizenship Act of 1955, liminality, interregnum

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