A joint Comhlamh & Maynooth University project

We often refer to the concept of global citizenship education in our work, but rarely have the time to reflect on what the concept means, and how it relates to democracy and the role of the state in an increasingly globalised world.  In January, Comhlámh began a six-month journey in partnership with Dr Barry Cannon from Maynooth University, in a joint project supported by Irish Aid, during which we explored various models of democracy and citizenship, all the time considering how these might relate to and inform our practice as educators. 

Balibar’s definition of democracy as “never something that you have, that you can claim to possess…it is only something that you collectively create or recreate” resonated strongly with members of our group, along with the importance of insurrection as a citizenship practice.  We discussed the ways in which the state’s role has been superseded by globalisation, and the emergence of new concepts of “global” citizenship, including cosmopolitan, denationalised and incipient citizenship. The latter, formulated by Engin and Nyers, captures the uncertainties we’re facing, suggesting a conceptualisation of citizenship as “no longer” but also “not yet”.

In our concluding session, we discussed how contemporary citizenship responds to multiple sovereignties, below, within and beyond the state.  It continues to be defined by acts of struggle, including the need to reimagine social contexts, regardless of location.  The importance of bringing ideas of insurrection and collective struggle into our work was one of the key insights emerging from this learning journey.  We’re very grateful to Barry, and to the other organisations who joined the learning space and shared their insights over the past six months: these will be written up and available as a report in autumn 2022.

Thanks to Dr Barry Cannon, Maynooth University; and to our partners from Development Perspectives, HPA (South Africa), IDEA, NYCI, Suas, UCDVO, and WorldWise Global Schools.

This project is supported by Irish Aid.