RGSCP Events

Check back often for information on events related to or supported by the Responsible Governance and Sustainable Citizenship Project. Please reach out to Rebecca Norris (Rebecca.Norris@unh.edu) for accommodations on the basis of disability.

Friday, April 19, 3:00-5:00PM

What is a Citizen? Who is a Citizen? A Conversation about Citizenship and Diversity in Historical Perspective

Hamilton Smith, Room 205

Join us for a series of wide-ranging talks about the relationships between citizenship and diversity in the ancient and modern worlds. We will discuss how citizenship is defined in the midst of racial, cultural, and ethnic difference, how states across history have restricted the rights and privileges of citizens to certain groups, and how definitions of citizenship impact questions of sociopolitical equity and justice. 

A light reception will immediately follow the conclusion of the discussion. This event is supported by the Responsible Governance & Sustainable Citizenship Project (RGSCP).

Substantive Citizenship and Minority Welfare under BJP dominance in India

Madhavi Devasher, Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the University of New Hampshire

In 2014 and 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party along with its National Democratic Alliance partners won decisive victories and formed the national government in India. Nationally, the political arena now looks like a dominant party system. The BJP is commonly described as a Hindu nationalist party that has made restoring Hindu hegemony in India, a key political promise. The BJP also made notable gains at the state level as well, holding over half of all state governments in India in recent years. This dominance has allowed it to bring about significant changes in numerous spheres of India’s politics and society, including freedom of speech, association, and religion -  fundamental rights of citizenship. Among the most prominent pieces of legislation have been the Citizenship Amendment Act, which implicitly limited the ability of Muslim refugees to gain Indian citizenship, and anti-conversion and anti-cow slaughter laws. Such laws predominantly impact religious minorities, making them targets for state harassment, vigilante violence and chill full political participation. As India heads into another national election, this paper examines how the BJP’s political dominance has shaped substantive political citizenship in India. Drawing on survey data, the paper tracks how ordinary Indians themselves ignore this form of democratic backsliding and endorsed a majoritarian view of belonging. It also discusses the silence of India’s opposition parties, most of whom espouse a strongly secular orientation. The paper thus offers insights and contributes to the research on majoritarianism and the rights and inclusion of minorities in a democracy.

Madhavi Devasher is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of New Hampshire. She studies South Asia and the politics of identity. Her forthcoming book, Crossing Lines explains why, how, and where ethnic political parties in India unexpectedly seek votes from non-coethnics and when voters support non-coethnic parties. It sheds light on the impact of Hindu nationalist politics on Muslims in India. Before UNH, she was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Princeton Institute of International and Regional Studies at Princeton University. She received her PhD in Political Science from Yale University and was recognized as an Exemplary Diversity Scholar by the National Center for Institutional Diversity at the University of Michigan.

Negotiating the boundaries of citizenship: Two examples from Italy (1917-1947)

Claudia Sbuttoni, Lecturer in Italian Studies at the University of New Hampshire

After the Second World War, Italy lost both its colonial empire and its possessions in the Adriatic borderland. Many Italians had left Italy to work and live as colonists in, for example, Italian East Africa (AOI). Others were considered “national refugees”; individuals identifying as “Italian” but who had ended up outside of the nation’s borders in places like Istria, due to geopolitical shifts and the postwar redrawing of borders. This talk will explore how reconfigurations of national belonging led to a transformation of Italian citizenship laws.

I will first focus on the question of Italian citizenship for “mixed-race” children during the period of Italian colonialism. While Italian men could recognize children born of mixed unions initially, increasing concerns over “miscegenation” in Italian East Africa led to a 1940 law which prohibited such recognition. This shift in legal policy meant that these children – once national subjects – became colonial subjects instead. Next, I will discuss how the extension of citizenship functioned in Italy’s eastern borderland, where individuals were given the ability to “opt” for Italian citizenship in the postwar. I will also explore the difficult process of determining who counted as “Italian” in a multiethnic, multilingual border area.  

By thinking through these two examples together, I will demonstrate how Italian citizenship was defined in racial, ethnic, and linguistic terms, and how it can tell us more about the development of conceptions of race, national identity, and belonging in Italy.

Claudia Sbuttoni (Ph.D., Columbia University) is a Lecturer in Italian Studies. Her research considers Italian identity in the borderlands and explores the interplay between cultural identity, marginality, and memory in the Istrian exile community in Trieste. Her work has been funded by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the Harriman-Council for European Studies Research Fellowship and the PepsiCo Research Travel Grant.

Thinking with the metic (about citizenship) in Sophocles’ Antigone

Carol Dougherty, Professor of Classic Studies and Director of Comparative Literary Studies at Wellesley College

In Sophocles’ Antigone, after disobeying her uncle Creon by giving her brother Polyneices a burial, Antigone goes defiantly to her death, and as she does so, she calls herself an immigrant or a resident alien  -- or in Greek, a metoikos.  The word metoikos first appears in Greek tragedy in the 460’s, and while by the fourth century, it designates a political category of “resident alien” – a non-Athenian who lives in Athens and participates in the life of the city –it is not at all clear that this is the case already in the fifth century.  This talk will argue that the Greek tragedians, especially Aeschylus and Sophocles, look to the figure of the immigrant to explore the rules for what it means to be a citizen, to belong, in the newly democratic city of Athens.  The etymology of the Greek word metoikos is ambiguous:  oikos  means “home” but the prefix meta can have a transitive meaning “to move or change” or an associative one “to belong to”, and so the word itself contains within it the very terms  in which important debates about Athenian citizenship are formulated (residence, mobility, belonging) as well as multiple options about how to reconcile their tensions.  In the Antigone, Sophocles draws upon this etymological ambiguity to pose questions that both challenge and support Athens’ democratic civic identity as autochthonous, to ask how to live with strangers in a city as if they were family at home. 

Carol Dougherty is Professor of Classical Studies and Director of Comparative Literary Studies at Wellesley College. She is the author of several books and articles on the literature, politics and history of mobility and settlement in archaic and classical Greece, including The Raft of Odysseus: The Ethnographic Imagination of Homer's Odyssey and most recently, Travel and Home in Homer and Contemporary Literature. Her current research approaches Greek tragedy within the discourse of hospitality, exploring the political and ethical issues raised by narratives about welcoming the foreigner on the Athenian stage.

The local experience of citizenship in the Roman world

Andrew C. Johnston, Associate Professor of Classics and History at Yale University

The spread of the Roman citizenship is one of the most significant historical developments in the ancient Mediterranean, contributing in fundamental ways to the exceptional expansion of Rome’s hegemony in Italy and, ultimately, to the remarkable endurance of its world empire. But, for the diverse inhabitants of that empire themselves, what did it mean to become a Roman citizen?  What changed and what persisted in their identities, memories, traditions, or patterns of interaction?  Far from acting simply as a unifying, homogenizing, and ‘globalizing’ force, enfranchisement elicited complex responses and involved fraught negotiations on the part of individuals and communities, with widely varied outcomes.  Through an impressionistic sketch of the local experience of citizenship in the Roman world, this paper will suggest some of the questions we might ask and some of the approaches we might take to ‘glocalism’ in the Roman world: the fascinating intersection of the global and the local.  It will investigate three representative case studies across time and space, using a range of epigraphic, archaeological, papyrological, and literary evidence.  We will begin with the Latin city-state of Gabii, which, in the archaic period, was the first community to receive a wholesale grant of Roman civic status, as a paradigm for thinking about the dynamics of negotiation, memory, incorporation, and resistance. We will then turn to the Iberian peninsula in the early imperial period, and examine the plurality of citizenships and senses of civic belonging that coexisted in the Roman world and the discourses and technologies that developed for articulating such pluralism.  Lastly, we will move to Egypt and the city of Hermopolis Magna in the third century CE, when the emperor Caracalla made the famous grant of citizenship to the whole of the Roman, and see how even in moments of apparent universalism and unity, there are still interesting and important stories to be told of the particular and the discrepant. 

Andrew C. Johnston is Associate Professor of Classics and History at Yale University. His work broadly explores Roman cultural history, especially questions of identity and of the construction of selves and others. His first book, The Sons of Remus: Identity in Roman Gaul and Spain, examined the experiences, memories, discourses, and cultural negotiations of local communities and individuals in the provinces of the Roman West, telling the stories of the other side – and the others’ side – of Empire. He is currently completing a book on the place of kingship in the Roman imagination, entitled Regnum: the Fear of Kingship in Roman Culture. He is also an active field archaeologist, serving as Director of the Field School of the Gabii Project, near Rome, and as Assistant Director of the City of the Baboon Project, investigating the site of Hermopolis Magna in middle Egypt.


photo of Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt

John T. Holden Lecture

Tyranny of the Minority:
Why American Democracy Reached the Breaking Point

Monday, April 8
4pm in 210 Ham Smith

Dr. Steven Levitsky
David Rockefeller Professor of Latin American Studies and
Professor of Government
Harvard University 

Dr. Daniel Ziblatt
Eaton Professor of Government
Harvard University 

Please join us for the annual John T. Holden Lecture as we welcome Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt of Harvard University. 

Drawing on insights from their latest book, Tyranny of the Minority , Levitsky and Ziblatt will present a wealth of examples – from 1930s France to present-day Thailand – to explain why and how political parties turn against democracy. They will also offer reflections on the current state of democracy in the United States, and the ways the Constitution leaves the United States vulnerable to attacks from within, arguing that It is a pernicious enabler of minority rule, allowing partisan minorities to consistently thwart and even rule over popular majorities. Levitsky and Ziblatt will also present examples from other democracies – from Germany and Sweden to Argentina and New Zealand – who have taken steps to update and strengthen their governmental frameworks, and present strategies for reforming U.S. democracy.

The Holden Lecture is supported by the John T. Holden Memorial Fund in the College of Liberal Arts, which was established in 1995 in memory of John Holden, one of the university’s outstanding professors of political science, who served that department for 25 years, many as chair. The fund is dedicated to bringing signal scholars in the social sciences to UNH.

Thursday, February 22, 12:40-2:00PM, MUB Theater II

What can we learn from Claudine Gay?: The politics of citation, plagiarism, & the spread of ideas in the social sciences

Join us for a roundtable discussion reflecting on the recent resignation of Harvard President Claudine Gay, a political scientist, due to plagiarism allegations. Topics to be addressed include the politics of how we value and attribute ideas in academia and society, the role of technology in enabling and identifying plagiarism, and how academic citation serves as a tool to trace the spread of original ideas. Panelists include faculty from the political science and international affairs department, and Dimond Library. Refreshments will be served. Event is supported by the Responsible Governance & Sustainable Citizenship Project (RGSCP).

April 1-5, 2024

Il Cinema Ritrovato

2024 flyer front