Drawing the Boundaries of Democracy: Immigrants, Citizens, and the Polis in Ancient Greek Contexts


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Political Science


The study of classical democratic citizenship has been dominated by two approaches. One sees the Athenian citizen in terms of his juridical privileges; the other, within a series of stable binary oppositions: citizen-slave, male-female, native-barbarian, elite-mass. This dissertation troubles these categorizations by arguing that the fraught, neglected category of standing of the city’s foreign residents, a third of Athens’ population, illuminates that citizenship was a way of life whose contours were in fact shifting. These free, non-citizen men and women called “metics” were not the antithesis of citizens. They were economically diverse, integrated, but disenfranchised. This study argues that ancient critics used figurations of metics to ruminate membership, explore democracy's limits, and imagine its alternatives.