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The Centre was established in 1994 as a response to the need for research, critical analysis and practical interventions into the theory and practice of citizenship and human rights.
Since 1994 the need to respond to citizenship and human rights issues has become more urgent, as new pressures, risks and conflicts associated with processes of globalisation, localism and social diversification become apparent.
Members of the Centre have worked with other researchers, community groups and governments, both in Australia and internationally, to explore the role of citizenship and human rights in reinvigorating civil society, responding to oppression and inequality and strengthening democracy.
We live in a time of paradox and challenge. For example, the processes of globalisation and localism have taken a number of paths. Globalisation has meant the ascendancy of the fiscal and political power of global capital, through transnational corporations and other international organisations. International networks have also supported subaltern organisations constructed around both universal human rights and fundamentalist agendas. But globalisation has also ushered in cosmopolitan citizenship, a respect for difference and openness to the voices of others.
At the same time the defence of the sovereignty of the nation state has been championed in the popular press, and to great effect. Citizenship becomes a device to keep aliens away, as xenophobia flourishes. Politicians of all political persuasion have used the race card with considerable success.
Many of the issues facing us are old ones, albeit in different guises. But many issues are also new. We are beginning to draw out new maps of understanding and action, but our work has just begun. We hope you will find the work that we are doing as exciting and challenging as we do.
Professor Damien Kingsbury