Simultaneous Citizen and Noncitizen: Displacement, Precarity, and Passports in Hong Kong

Abstract: Arguing against the reification of a citizen-noncitizen binary, and drawing on the example of economically precarious Indonesian workers and worker-activists in Hong Kong, I argue that simultaneous citizenship and non-citizenship (both a politico-legal citizen of one state and a non-citizen of another) can contribute to existential displacement in the form of disrupted lives and futures. The severe displacement of Indonesian workers, despite heroic mitigating efforts of migrant worker activists after a new passport renewal policy was introduced in 2015, illustrates how their displacement is tied to the inability of their Indonesian citizenship or their Hong Kong status to provide the necessary legal and social protections. Indonesian displacement is compounded by their economic precarity, but their displacement as citizen-noncitizens resembles that of Hongkongers who opposed China’s encroachment after the 2019-2020 protests.

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