The manner in which citizenship should be allocated is one of the most sensitive decisions that any political community faces: how to define who belongs, or ought to belong, to the citizenry. The law of naturalization functions as the gatekeeper—it is designed to include the desirable people and exclude the undesirable ones. In so doing, it provides a unique platform to reflect on three fundamental issues:  defining the “We”—who “we” are and what kind of nation “we” want to be;  setting criteria for identifying the desired “They”—who is, in the state’s view, a “good citizen,” and the current understanding of what it means to become a citizen; and  finding the core to which “they” should subscribe to become part of the “we.”
The Global Naturalization Project has two goals:  empirically, it explores how states around the world select and “create” new citizens and seeks to develop a global database on naturalization conditions and methods (in cooperation with the GLOBALCIT Project at the European University Institute);  normatively, it analyzes questions related to the law and theory of naturalization. Should the naturalization process merely maximize national interests, or also contribute to global interests? Which naturalization goals, means, and criteria are justified? Should a modern theory of naturalization follow a jus nexi principle of membership? And what should be the normative connection between the requirements of access to citizenship (who can become a citizen) and the conceptions of citizenship and peoplehood (what citizenship is about)?