This paper introduces the Latin American debate on citizenship. It examines, first, the general conditions of the emergence of the notion in different countries of the continent. Secondly, it discusses what can be seen as general features assumed by the redefinition of citizenship that underlay its emergence in Latin America, linked to the democratising processes in the last decades. This analysis takes as its main reference the pioneering process of redefinition that took place in Brazil, because it is considered the most elaborate one and has been, to some extent, a reference for other countries in Latin America and elsewhere. Third, in trying to avoid the risks of excessive generalisation, it discusses the different nuances and emphases the notion of citizenship has taken up, as they may not only provide a further understanding of the debate but also highlight the distinctions and specificities of citizenship in different countries. Finally, it focuses on the neoliberal versions of citizenship and the dilemmas these pose to the original democratising meanings and uses of citizenship in Latin America.
IDS Working Paper 258, Sussex, UK: IDS, ISBN 1 85864 891 2, 33 pp.