The British State, Citizenship Rights and Gendered Folk Devils: The Case of Shamima Begum

Williamson, Milly and Khiabany, Gholam. 2024. The British State, Citizenship Rights and Gendered Folk Devils: The Case of Shamima Begum. European Journal of Cultural Studies, ISSN 1367-5494 [Article] (In Press)

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Abstract or Description

The revoking of Shamima Begum’s citizenship exemplifies much of the purposes of contemporary anti-Muslim racism and underlines its significant gendered element. Both state and media actors constructed the 15-year old as a problematic other, both to justify conditional citizenship ideologically, and to use her case to strengthen and add to the framework for making it legal. This comes in a context in which British Muslims and members of the British Windrush generation are being denied citizenship and the rights that go with it. We argue that Shamima Begum’s construction as a gendered folk devil must be understood in the context of nation states shifting their purpose and legitimacy from ‘civil rights’ to ‘national security’ and strengthening two-tier citizenship rights to control residents of colour, increase the state’s authoritarian purpose and, as part of an ongoing process, to transform the concept of ‘national security’ into legal reality, to further militarise the state and its borders against the ‘migrant crisis’ and, ultimately, to stifle dissent.

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Data Access Statement:

Data sharing not applicable to this article as no datasets were generated or analysed during this study.


Anti-Muslim racism, citizenship, folk devil, gender, human rights, migrants, national security, Shamima Begum, state racism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


9 February 2024Accepted
10 March 2024Published Online

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Date Deposited:

12 Mar 2024 11:46

Last Modified:

12 Mar 2024 11:52

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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