2015.04.29 Citizenship?

Have you changed your citizenship of birth?

If not, would you ever do so?

In a couple of months, Danes abroad will for the first time have a chance to decide if they want to become dual citizens.

Many nationalities have had this option for a long time. Not the Danes. If you took the citizenship of the country you lived in, you would have to give up your Danish passport.

That seemed like a big deal to many people. My uncle - who emigrated to USA in 1948 - was still a green card holder on his death a few years back.

Now that the hurdle is not that big any longer, it poses a set a questions to ponder, even for those who would never give up their citizenship of birth:

  • Does carrying another passport mean abandoning one's friends, family and country?
  • Does being a citizen of another country add to or subtract from one's Danish identity?
  • Does having dual citizenship dilute or expand one's sense of belonging?
  • Does one need to be a citizen to identify with a country and its culture?
  • What are some of the unknown consequences and responsibilities that come with being a citizen of one's host country?
  • Does having American citizenship e.g. mean that you are an American?, and
  • Why does such a seemingly simple decision feel like such a big deal?!

This list was comprised by my friend Kim Aronson. Had we both still lived in Denmark, I would probably not have known him. Had he not been Danish, I would probably not have known him. I know Kim because we met at a Danish networking group some years back.

For the first many years I lived in California, I didn't attend any Danish network events. Why would I move to USA to hang out with Danes? Wouldn't that be much easier done by staying in Denmark?

But after a while it did feel nice to speak the old language and meet some of the fellow countrymen. There is nothing like going away to make one reflect on one's cultural imprint. I even started this outreach website to make it easier for the newcomers to feel at home in California.

In this previous blog, I touched upon a similar theme of identity prompted by an article in the Economist. What does it mean to have a hyphenated identity? For how many generations does one keep hyphenating - in this case becoming Danish-American?

Kim never got to pose his questions to a wider audience. I think it is a pity because the thoughts of those who have changed or taken on a new citizenship - American or otherwise - would be really nice to hear.

So, please join the discussion on Linkedin.