Questions for global citizenship

By Diana Paz Garcia

During one of our sessions, the speaker introduced the idea of global citizenship. She argued that humans should embrace this concept based on people’s shared humanity. She defined global citizenship as “being able to identify with the world, and feel like you belong anywhere”. Although I agree that there is a commonality in the human experience that we should embrace, I also feel conflicted. It becomes hard to visualize the idea of belonging “anywhere” were systems and structures constantly strive to make some sectors of the population constantly feel like the “other”. Institutions in most countries are built to make me, a Mexican woman, feel like I do not belong. Regardless of where I go, it is impossible to shake off the feeling of “otherness”.

I believe that it is impossible to undermine the role of structural power in the conceptualization of global citizenship. Because, if we ignore it, in the construction of this global village there would be – like in most communities – second and third-class citizens. However, isn’t the core concept of global citizenship ingrained in the idea of equality, due to the fact that because we are humans – thus equal – we all belong? Nevertheless, if there are forces that limit and barricade the feeling of belonging to some, wouldn’t that then defeat the purpose of the existence of this global identity?  

Coming out of this session I am left with many questions, particularly; how might we strive to cultivate a global identity without reinforcing structural violence? How can we deconstruct and decolonize global citizenship? And should the process then, be first bottom-top or top-bottom?