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Book Talk: Sam Erman's 'Almost Citizens: Puerto Rico, the U.S. Constitution, and Empire'

Wednesday, 19 February, 2020

Sam Erman, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of California’s Gould School of Law, will give a book talk about his study of Puerto Rico and citizenship, Almost Citizens: Puerto Rico, the U.S. Constitution, and Empire, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 19, in Room 142, Adorjan Hall.

About the Talk

Almost Citizens lays out the tragic story of how the United States denied Puerto Ricans full citizenship following the annexation of the island in 1898. As America became an overseas empire, a handful of remarkable Puerto Ricans debated with U.S. legislators, presidents, judges among others over who was a citizen and what citizenship meant.

This struggle caused a fundamental shift in constitutional jurisprudence: away from the post-Civil War regime of citizenship, rights, and statehood and toward doctrines that accommodated racist imperial governance.

Erman’s gripping account shows how, in the wake of the Spanish-American War, administrators, lawmakers and presidents, together with judges, deployed creativity and ambiguity to transform constitutional law and interpretation over a quarter-century of debate and litigation. The result is a history in which the United States and Latin America, Reconstruction and empire, and law and bureaucracy intertwine.