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Towards ''affective political citizenship''? Considerations arising from the narratives of ethnic minority women citizens, activists and politicians in the UK

Monica Threlfall
London Metropolitan University
Monica Threlfall
London Metropolitan University
Monica Threlfall
London Metropolitan University
Open Panel

Abstract

This paper will thematise citizenship along two axes, drawing on empirical work conducted with ethnic minority citizens, activists and politicians in the UK, and to a lesser extent Poland, Macedonia and Spain. The first part of the paper will explore how far the concept of citizenship can be enhanced by the considerations of what we call ''affective political citizenship'' building on the literature on affective citizenship. Consideration of affective citizenship as a politics of inclusion and belonging is contrasted with the prevalent language of rational choice focusing on individual political preferences. It is based on fieldwork in which group discussions were held as the method of gathering a series of narratives offered by citizens of various ethnicities and religions around their feelings of being politically un/represented through the formal electoral structures of representation in the four countries. Particular attention is paid to the affects and preferences around gendered representation among the women ethnic minority participants in the discussions. The second part of the paper compares and contrasts these notions of affective citizenship, inclusion, and belonging with those of individual ethnic minority women activists in the UK involved in elective politics and gendered issue advocacy, particularly at the local and regional level. It examines the relationship between the affect of belonging, the sense of personal agency, and views about the election of women to political office. The paper concludes with considerations on the usefulness of the notion of ''affective political citizenship'' for strengthening practices of political inclusion in the representation system.