This introductory paper to our first issue provides reflection on the concept of critical global citizenship at both theoretical and practical levels. We maintain that ‘citizenship’, irrespective of its level of articulation (i.e. national, international, global, etc.) remains an issue that reflects a status, a feeling and practices that are intrinsically interlinked. As a legal status, formal citizenship allows individuals to form a sense of belonging within a political community and, therefore, empowers them to act and perform their citizenship within the spatial domains of the nation-state. Critical global citizenship, asks these same individuals not so much to neglect these notions of belonging and practice to a particular locale, but to extend such affinities beyond the territorial boundaries of their formal national membership and to think critically and ethically about their local, national and global relationship with those who are different from themselves. Making a case for a critical global citizenship, however, also requires acknowledging material inequalities that affect the most vulnerable (i.e. migrants, asylum seekers, those experiencing poverty, etc.) and which mean that efforts to cultivate global citizenship orientations to address social injustice are not enacted on an even playing field. As such, a critical global citizenship approach espouses a performative citizenship that is at once democratic and ethical, as well as being aimed at achieving social peace and sustainable justice, but which is also affected by material conditions of inequality that require political solutions and commitment from individuals, states, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society organisations.