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Research project

CITDEM - Contestations of citizenship in contexts of democratic backsliding: lessons from post-communist Europe

The collaborative CITDEM project advances our understanding of how citizenship changes when democratic governance becomes a façade veiling populist and authoritarian political objectives.

While post-Communist European countries have been the site of stalling democratization and rising backsliding, this is the first project to explore the consequences of backsliding on the evolution of citizenship regimes. This project begins by identifying and studying three mechanisms—identity politics, electoral politics, and judicial constraints—that connect citizenship regime stability and change with political regime transformation ‘away from democracy’. Our project will offer a novel account of:

  • how the institutionalisation of citizenship regimes reconstructs ‘spaces of identity’, both as attachments and political practice;
  • how the political conception of citizenship as the lifeblood of democracy is constructed, contested, to serve the political objectives of illiberal political elites (e.g., electoral constituency manipulation); and
  • how the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion become filtered through institutional dynamics (e.g., court rulings).

The team

Group members

  • Portrait picture of Joe Higton

    Joe Higton


    London School of Economics

  • Portrait picture of Emily Schultheis

    Emily Schultheis

    MA graduate in Nationalism Studies

    Central European University (CEU)

  • Lucas Van Der Baaren

    Max Weber Fellow

    Max Weber Programme for Postdoctoral Studies

    Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies

External Partners

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