Underground Forum: République.
Text: Danielle House
Photo: Sop Rodchenvko
What does it mean to be a citizen today? Pause on the platform to think.
The Oxford English Dictionary guides us to define republic as: “a State in which the supremacy of the people or its elected representatives is formally acknowledged, (fig.) society of which the members regard each other as equals”.
Society of which the members regard each other as equals.
It seems today that Europe (France, the UK) has lost its way, taken the wrong line on the metro, heading in the opposite direction. The urban networks that link us and create communities are being eroded by quiet forces that seep into the every day, both physically and intangibly. The liberal norms that we have structured western society by are still espoused, but the practice looks different, feels different, from what is being said. Tolerance doesn’t look very tolerant. Austerity doesn’t seem very rational. Equality is not distributed equally.
People we pass in the city carry their own senses of personhood, what connects them to nations and what it means to be a citizen. Never mind the politics of nations; we know how to be both French and Cuban, to feel at home, to be in place. We don’t need to be instructed in this, it doesn’t need to be taught from above. We form our own practices of citizenship, connections, of being in the world.
Rushing air, deafening noise, the train comes and goes, moving people around this city.
Danielle House is studying for a PhD in International Politics