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The Metamorphosis of Aliens into Political Agents

The CEU Campus
Thursday, April 19, 2018, 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Addressing the question of whether or not a migrant, as a special agent among others, can be a political agent requires us, in the first place, to problematize the concept of the political. Only by doing so it is possible to understand the role that migrants, conceived as outsiders, can play as agents in the polity. Considering being political not as a status, but rather as an act that demands both capacity and action as its necessary conditions, I see being a political agent not as a permanent condition, but rather in a twofold dimension of potentiality and actuality. Moreover, I contend that the right to vote is not a necessary, nor a sufficient condition for being a political actor, although such a right can greatly enhance our possibilities of having a say, augmenting our degree of political agency. The following step is then to disentangle political legal rights from the possible exercise of political agency. Indeed, notwithstanding the importance attached to the right to vote and to citizenship as fundamental for political participation, I claim that migrants can be political although lacking the legal means of participation. They become political agents who deserve to be heard ‘simply’ by acting and voicing their claims as autonomous individuals, final units of our moral concern.

Keywords: migration, political participation, human rights, cosmopolitanism

Paper Submitted for the conference Unpacking Political Agency. Equality, Vulnerability, Discrimination San Raffaele Spring School of Philosophy 2018 (SRSSP 2018) Milan, June 5-7, 2018

Elettra Repetto is a Doctoral Candidate at the Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy and International Relations and chair of the Migration Research Group at CEU