Anyone trying to be a citizen has to pass through a set of practices trying to be a state. This paper investigates some of the ways testing practices calibrate citizens, and in doing so, perform “the state.” The paper focuses on three forms of citizenship testing, which it considers exemplary forms of “state work,” and which all, in various ways, concern “migration.” First, the constitution of a “border crossing,” which requires an identity test configured by deceptibility. Second, the Dutch asylum process, in which “being gay” can, in certain cases, be reason for being granted asylum, but where “being gay” is also the outcome of an examination organized by suspicion. And third, the Dutch measurement of immigrants’ “integration,” which is comprised of a testing process in which such factishes as “being a member of society” and “being modern” surface. Citizenship is analyzed in this paper as accrued and (re)configured along a migration trajectory that takes shape as a testing concours, meaning that subjects become citizens along a trajectory of testing practices. In contributing both to work on states and citizenship, and to work on testing, this paper thus puts forward the concept of citizenship testing as state work, where “state work is the term for that kind of labor that most knows itself as comparison, equivalency, and exchange in the social realm” (Harney, 2002, pp. 10–11). Throughout the testing practices discussed here, comparison, equivalency, and exchange figure prominently as the practical achievements of crafting states and citizens.

borders, citizenship, integration, migration, state, testing,
British Journal of Sociology
Department of Sociology

Schinkel, W. (2020). State work and the testing concours of citizenship. In British Journal of Sociology. doi:10.1111/1468-4446.12743