Research

Published in the late spring of 2021, my article “‘Maternity Tourism,’ Civic Integration and Jus Soli Citizenship in Canada” appears in a special issue of the Revue Européenne des Migrations Internationales (36.4). While at first blush, birthright citizenship is a peculiar status from which to consider civic integration, the frisson surrounding foreign women giving birth in Canada, allegedly in order to attain a ‘safety citizenship’ for their children, demonstrates the degree to which children are never very far from their parents. Moreover, in the debate over Canada’s birthright citizenship provisions, we learn a lot about Canadian ideas of what constitutes a worthy citizen and the values and behavior appropriate for inclusion in the Canadian political community – even if all of that is a lot to ask of an infant.

In the summer of 2020 I was honoured to serve as an expert witness for a constitutional challenge to Manitoba’s Family Maintenance Act concerning the legal definition of parentage. The challenge was successful, requiring the Manitoba legislature to reform the law to include same sex parents and parents who access reproductive technologies to form their families. Some of the scholarship that supported my report is forthcoming as “How Queer!? Canadian Approaches to Recognizing Queer Families in the Law” the 2021 volume of Whatever: A Transdisciplinary Journal of Queer Theories and Studies.

Other recent scholarship includes a co-authored article with Margot Challborn, entitled  “Sex and the Genuine Marriage: Consummation and Conjugality in Canadian Citizenship.” The article appears in Citizenship Studies 23.5(2019) and can be found here: https://doi.org/10.1080/13621025.2019.1620686 . The article considers consummation as a  ‘technology of love’ (adopting Anne Marie D’Aoust’s formulation) in the determination of the ‘genuineness’ of marriages for the purposes of spousal sponsorship in Canadian immigration law. Yes, indeed. Consummation is key to Canadian Immigration officials’ determination that a marriage is genuine.  It’s not the only factor, of course. But in its absence, spousal sponsorship applicants will almost certainly be denied.

I am currently completing a book project entitled Canadian Club: Birthright Citizenship and Belonging. This work examines birthright citizenship through the experiences of the lost Canadians as well as a series of court cases and high profile media stories. The lost Canadians became a media phenomenon in 2007 when Canadians were newly required to produce a passport to cross the Canada-U.S. border. Some people who thought they were Canadian citizens, applied for passports and were informed that their citizenship was in doubt, or that they did not, in fact, have Canadian citizenship at all. There were many reasons why these citizenship issues may have emerged, but they all stemmed from the workings of the birth criteria that govern membership in Canada. We generally think that birth provides a solid and unassailable foundation for citizenship, yet the evidence suggests otherwise. So if that’s true, and we also want to avoid the dangers of citizenship-stripping and statelessness, what alternatives might we devise? I advance a proposal based on connection, subjection to governance, and consent, while also having the assurance of sustained inclusion.

Finally, in conjunction with Steve Patten and Catherine Kellogg, I am completing an edited volume honoring the work of Janine Brodie and tentatively entitled Neoliberal Contentions.

For those interested in the birthright citizenship debate, check out the European Union Democracy Observatory on Citizenship Forum Debate at http://eudo-citizenship.eu/commentaries/citizenship-forum/citizenship-forum-cat.

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