Applications for naturalization in late nineteenth-and early twentieth-century Britain reveal the ways migrants and natives defined and articulated British nationality. The demand that candidates produce British-born referees made relations between these individuals and the state contingent on prior relationships with neighbors, co-workers, and local states, while it simultaneously drew native-born Britons into collusion with this nation-building project. This evidence sheds light on migrants' social networks: neighbors, friends, spouses, employers, business and religious contacts, landlords, and the "customary practices" through which outsiders became British. These stories show that naturalization was not simply an objective, legal, and secular contract between an individual and the state, but also a personal, subjective, and collective process in which native Britons as well as migrants played decisive roles. British nationality formed in asymmetrical dialogue between local and national, migrants and natives, state and society.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science