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Non- and dedocumenting citizens in Romania: Nonrecording as a civil boundary

Ioana Vrăbiescu

Keywords: gender; Roma; Romania; state legibility; statelessness

Abstract

This article explores state practices in Romania that lead to the non-, de-, and redocumenting of tens of thousands of inhabitants. Unlike state practices of (non)recording aliens (asylum seekers, refugees, undocumented migrants), the scale of dedocumenting native citizens in Romania exposes a deliberate and systematic modality of governance through exclusion from state records. These practices of citizenship dispossession lead mostly to the gender discrimination of marginalized women and the racial exclusion of Romani ethnics. People who were born and live on the state’s territory become de facto stateless. By scrutinizing state regulations and institutional practices, this article unravels the logic of dedocumenting citizens, a process that allows state actors to select those who belong to the nation on the basis of criteria that are incompatible with basic civil and human rights. This selective modality of recording endows state actors with crucial and direct control over the political and economic lives of undocumented citizens.

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