The Citizenship Act, 1955

Anupama Roy

in Mapping Citizenship in India

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780198066743
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080069 | DOI:
The Citizenship Act, 1955

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This chapter explores the liminal spaces of citizenship that emerged in the interregnum between the enforcement of the Citizenship provisions as contained in the Constitution of India and the enactment of the Citizenship Act of 1955 through a study of archival material, primarily files pertaining to citizenship in the Indian Citizenship section of the Home Ministry in the 1950s, citizenship laws, and court judgments. The chapter argues that: (1) in the interregnum between constitutional provisions (1950) and the Citizenship Act (1955), citizenship in India occupied a zone of liminality; (2) the liminality of citizenship accrued from the fact that the interregnum embodied the threshold space between the nation-state and state-formation/making; (3) the occupation of a liminal space attributed citizenship with indeterminacy and ambiguity; (4) ‘registered/alien/Pakistani women/wives’, ‘minors’, and ‘displaced persons’ were liminal categories, in the sense that they signified both the uncertainty of the moment of passage and the change in status that such passage was to bring with it; and (5) the liminal state of citizenship was fraught with contests over precise legal categories in the absence of/in anticipation of the Citizenship Act and was imbricated in processes of state-formation and issues of national belonging.

Keywords: luminal spaces; citizenship; Indian Constitution; Citizenship Act of 1955; liminality; interregnum

Chapter.  26618 words. 

Subjects: Indian Politics

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