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While many political theorists have focused on the question of whether states have a duty to grant citizenship to noncitizens, this article examines the issues associated with the state’s withdrawal of citizenship. Denationalization powers have recently emerged as a controversial political issue in a number of liberal states, making their ethical scrutiny important. I begin by considering the historical practice of banishment and how denationalization power emerged and became consolidated in the United Kingdom and the United States in the first half of the twentieth century. I then discuss the nature of liberal objections to the power. My focus next shifts to the United Kingdom’s Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act of 2002, which attempted to create a “liberal” denationalization power. In the final section of the article, I discuss whether the Act successfully addresses liberal concerns and in so doing shed light on the possibility of reconciling liberal principles with conditional citizenship.

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Journal article


Cambridge University Press

Publication Date



75 (3)


646 - 658