Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Politics through a web: citizenship and community unbound

Closs Stephens, A.; Squire, V.

Politics through a web: citizenship and community unbound Thumbnail


A. Closs Stephens

V. Squire


What happens to citizenship when the nation and the state are no longer assumed to be the inevitable starting points from which politics is defined? This paper considers how a refusal of the nation as political community and a questioning of the state as guarantor of rights and responsibilities reconfigure our understandings of citizenship. We do this by taking as a metaphor and analytical entry point an art installation developed by artist Tomás Saraceno titled 14 Billions (Working Title). Forming an exaggerated version of a black widow spider’s web, this installation offers us a way of engaging politics in relational terms. Inspired by this installation, we ask: how are the categories of citizenship and community troubled or reconfigured when we address sociality and politics from a relational perspective? In which ways does 14 Billions prompt us to address questions of spatiality, power, coexistence, and contestation differently from those accounts of citizenship that remain wedded to the state as a contained geographical unit and to the nation as an imaginary of political community? And finally, how might this web installation suggest an intervention into the broader problematic of ‘citizenship without community’ that forms the focus of this theme issue? We address these questions by way of an engagement with the ‘lines’, ‘gaps’, and ‘tension points’ presented by 14 Billions and argue that an understanding of citizenship as based upon membership appears inadequate when we address politics through a web. In so doing, we contend that the provocation of citizenship without community presents a challenge that does not simply demand a shift from the nation to the state or the reaffirmation of a rights-bearing subject; rather, this provocation leads us to argue that politics involves more than a search for inclusion and recognition, whilst the web installation offers us a way in to thinking about politics through heterogeneous sites and moments of encounter.


Closs Stephens, A., & Squire, V. (2012). Politics through a web: citizenship and community unbound. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 30(3), 551-567.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2012
Deposit Date May 18, 2012
Publicly Available Date Nov 3, 2014
Journal Environment and Planning D: Society and Space
Print ISSN 0263-7758
Electronic ISSN 1472-3433
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 30
Issue 3
Pages 551-567
Keywords Citizenship, Community, Politics, Web, Encounters.


Accepted Journal Article (510 Kb)

Copyright Statement
Angharad Closs Stephens, Vicki Squire, 2012. The definitive peer-reviewed and edited version of this article is published in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 30(3), 551–567, 2012, 10.1068/d8511.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations