Re-imagining Citizenship, Re-imagining Social Work: U.S. Immigration Policies and Social Work Practice in the Era of AZ SB1070

  • Hye-Kyung Kang Smith College School for Social Work
Keywords: Cultural citizenship, immigration policies, postcolonial theories, social work practice with immigrants.


The literature on immigrant cultural citizenship (Ong, 1996; Rosaldo, 1997) has argued that traditional and normative definitions of citizenship ignore various forms of civic participation and belonging and fails to capture the experiences of immigrants in an increasingly globalized world (Getrich, 2008), calling for more nuanced and multiple meanings of citizenship. As agents of civil society, social workers have much power in constructing and maintaining (or resisting) normative discourses of citizenship, and how we participate in this process has material consequences for those we serve. Applying poststructural and postcolonial theories, this paper excavates discourses of exclusion and inequity that produce the idea of U.S. citizenship through a critical historical analysis of key U.S. immigration and naturalization-related policies and proposes immigrant cultural citizenship as a conceptual frame for re-imagining social work practice with immigrants.

Author Biography

Hye-Kyung Kang, Smith College School for Social Work
Assistant Professor Smith College School for Social Work