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Testing for citizenship: Why tests and why now?

Adrian Blackledge, Sue Wright

Citizenship tests have recently been adopted as a means of regulating access to citizenship in a number of European states and beyond. In this paper we present and compare the contexts in which these tests have been introduced; we examine the nature of the tests and foreground some of the anomalies inherent in the testing regimes; and we attempt an explanation for the current turn to testing. In order to do so we look beyond the EU context, to Australia and the UK, two states which have substantial and different histories of immigration, and which have both recently introduced and expanded tests for those seeking citizenship or indefinite leave to remain. In our examination of the citizenship testing regimes in Australia and the UK we analyse principles and practices which have recently been adopted in many European states. In our conclusion we ask why there has been such a rapid proliferation of citizenship tests in so many national contexts in recent times, and propose responses which call into question traditional relationships between nation-state, citizenship, and national belonging.

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