Negotiating citizenships: German citizens, European Union citizenship, and the limits of denizenship

Type Paper
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 04 Sep 2019
EventAnnual Conference of the Association for German Studies in Great Britain and Ireland - Bristol, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Duration: 04 Sep 201906 Sep 2019


ConferenceAnnual Conference of the Association for German Studies in Great Britain and Ireland
Abbreviated titleAGS2019
CountryUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Period04 Sep 201906 Sep 2019
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Twenty years ago the concept of denizenship – the rights afforded to non-citizens resident in a country – gained considerable attention. Social scientists saw the concept as potent for an age of mobility, where increasing numbers of people would spend considerable periods of time outside the state of their citizenship, but not necessarily commit to spending their lives abroad. However, recent populist policies have restricted non-citizens’ rights and indeed challenged the legitimacy of denizenship. This paper explores the limits of denizenship by recounting the experiences of German citizens resident in rural Wales. Drawing on ongoing qualitative research, we first illustrate how German citizenship and rights of free movement allow transnational connections and attachments. Second, we examine differences between identifying as a German or European citizen, and how Germans living in Wales have encountered a lack of reciprocity that has, for them, inscribed the limits of their citizenship. Finally, considering how German citizens apprehend the ‘hostile environment’ engineered by successive UK governments and entangled in Brexit, we reflect on the limits of denizenship and the continued significance of national citizenship as a perceived guarantor of rights in a turbulent time.


  • Citizenship, Migration, Germany, Wales, Brexit