Birth-based citizenship is widely considered to be the most secure claim to political belonging. Despite the general belief that liberal democracies are formed through consent, in fact, most people are members of a political community by virtue of the circumstances of their birth. In Canadian Club, Lois Harder tracks the development of Canada’s Citizenship Act from its first iteration in 1947 to the provisions governing the citizenship of children born abroad to Canadian parents with the assistance of reproductive technologies. Reviewing a range of cases, Harder reveals how membership in the Canadian political community relies on norms surrounding gender, family, and sexuality, as well as presumptions regarding the constitution of "authentic" national identity, racial hierarchy, and the rightness of settler colonialism.
Canadian Club concludes with a consideration of alternative approaches to forming political communities. Ultimately, it asks whether birth-based citizenship is the best we can do and what a more democratic and socially just alternative might look like.
About the author
Lois Harder is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta. She researches and teaches Canadian political economy, social policy, feminism and globalization.