The Political Value of Time by Elizabeth F. Cohen

On Tuesday 21 May, the VU Migration Law section had a lunch meeting with Elizabeth F. Cohen, who is a Professor of Political Science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. In the meeting, we discussed her new book The Political Value of Time – Citizenship, Duration and Democratic Justice (Cambridge University Press), which explores the idea of time within democratic theory and practice. In her talk, Cohen set out the different ways in which political procedures use quantities of time to confer and deny citizenship rights. Cohen argued that time functions as a necessary part of any democratic architecture, as it secures procedures that are both predictable and egalitarian. Yet, time is also used as an instrument of political power in ways that are often overlooked. Waiting periods and deadlines not only may form a procedural obstacle in order to gain material rights, they also form instruments of in- and exclusion that may work out differently for different groups of people. Cohen therefore urges us to think critically of the ways in which the government of time may constitute forms of injustice.

Please click here to read more about the book. Also see Martijn Stronks’ research project Time and Identity. The relation between time and identity in the context of family migration law.