Documented processes that are prescribed and enforced by official and state methods can limit, if not erase, who we are, and, in doing so, they lend insight into how we render persons as subjects and as legible. A broader concept of documentary membership complicates the notion that status is essentially vested in documents, rather than in the activities and lived experiences of persons. Membership and rights need not be predicated on access or possession of state documents, but can materialize in numerous more meaningful ways, in more grounded and active engagement in political and social activities. As a result, we can extend the bounded meanings of papers and documents and reject the simplistic and normative narratives that all too often conflate status with identity. The possibilities to center our ways of documenting lived experiences capture the dynamism of documentation, which can expand the concept of citizenship, thereby cultivating legitimacy, membership, and rights to those denied and excluded from its institution.

Black and white photo of Nicole Fleetwood

Nicole Fleetwood

American Studies/Art History, Rutgers University

Black and white photo of Dan Berger

Dan Berger

Associate Professor, Comparative Ethnic Studies

Black and white photo of Alec Fisher

Alec Fisher

Graduate Student, English

Black and white photo of Dan Paz

Dan Paz

Lecturer, Comparative History of Ideas; School of Art + Art History + Design

Black and white photo of Carolyn Pinedo-Turnovsky

Carolyn Pinedo-Turnovsky

Associate Professor, American Ethnic Studies

View a recording of the online roundtable that took place on November 11, 2020, with Nicole Fleetwood, Dan Berger, Alec Fisher, Dan Paz, and Carolyn Pinedo-Turnovsky.