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Unformatted text preview: 145 Chapter 7 HEGEMONY THROUGH CITIZENSHIP The extension of American citizenship to Puerto Ricans in 1917 has proved to be one of the most important legal events in the history of the relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico. This chapter analyzes the long-term effects of that event. U.S. citizenship has become a crucial element in the reproduction of American hegemony among the Puerto Rican population. It has produced significant conse- quences in the realm of experience and ideology. In particular, (a) it created a context for social practice and action; (b) it constituted new political subjects--Puerto Ricans as American citizens; (c) it has affected the process of the formation of the "self" among Puerto Ricans; (d) it constructed a new juridicopolitical "reality" that has placed significant constraints on the metropolitan state itself; and, finally, (e) it has been a salient factor in the multidimensional process involved in the reproduction of consent to the continued association with the United States. Background Before the Spanish American War, the acquisition of new territory by the United States had always led at some point to the extension of citizenship to the inhabitants of the territory as part of the process of eventual admission to the union. The terri- tories acquired in 1898, however, opened up a new debate. Should their inhabitants be granted citizenship? And if so, what would the consequences be of such action? Underlying the debate was the fearat times expressed very explicitlyof incor- porating into the union peoples deemed to be different, even inferior. As a leading scholar on this issue has argued convincingly, many congressmen and decision makers in Washington made a distinction between the Philippines and Puerto Rico.' The peoples of the Philippines were considered more "alien" than the Puerto Ricans. Those who favored extending citizenship to Puerto Ricans were prone to stress that the latter's European roots were more substantial than those of the Filipinos. Moreover, the fact that the American occupation of the Philippines had been met by armed resistance from sectors of the local population and that hostil- ities were still raging cast doubts regarding the governability of the new territory. Cabranes argued that the delay in considering a bill granting citizenship to Puerto Ricans was due mainly to the desire to avoid setting a precedent for the Philippines.' 'Jose Cabranes. Citizenship and she American Empire, 127 U. Ps. L. REV. 391 (1978). 'Extended discussions about the background to the citizenship bill can be found in JOSE Tains MONGE. I Hisromn CONSTYFUGIONAL DE PUERTO Rico 70-110 (1981): REM. Smuts?* GEYLS (De- metric/ Femindez Quin es & Eisen Rivera Ramos, contributors), DERECno CONSTITUCIONAL DE Es- TAD0S limbos y PUERTO Rimy DoEtnieemos-lORISPRUDENCIA-ANOTACIONES-pnEommes 467-70 (1986); Cabranes, supra note I, as 435-71. HEGEMONY THROUGH CITIZENSHIP 147 146 THE LEGAL CONSTRUCTION OF IDENTITY...
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This note was uploaded on 02/22/2011 for the course AFPRL 103 taught by Professor Melendez during the Spring '11 term at CUNY Hunter.
- Spring '11
- The American