What Is a Citizen?
with Dan-el Padilla Peralta
Offered in partnership with The New-York Historical Society
Monday, February 27, 2017

Citizen status–who has it, who doesn’t–has a long, violent history. Using writings by Thucydides, Livy, Philip V of Macedonia, W.E.B Du Bois, Fanon, and others, this class will examine the idea and practice of citizenship from ancient Greece to today. Questions to be tackled include: Who is eligible to be—or become—a citizen? What rights come with citizenship? What expectations and demands? How is exclusion wired into the institution of citizenship? How has citizenship been imagined and described? What does it mean to be a global citizen? What does it mean to be undocumented, or stateless, a citizen of nowhere?

Dan-el Padilla Peralta, a native of the Dominican Republic, grew up undocumented in New York City and experienced periods of homelessness. Obsessed from an early age with the ancient Greeks and Romans, he found his way to Princeton, where he earned his AB in Classics and graduated as the Latin salutatorian. He went on to the University of Oxford and Stanford University, where he earned his PhD in Classics. Dan-el is now an assistant professor in Princeton’s Classics Department and is affiliated with the university’s Program in Latino Studies. His memoir Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from Homeless Shelter to Ivy League received an Alex Award from the American Library Association.