Denaturalization and Expatriation in Twentieth-Century America, 1906-1967
In 1906, U.S. Congress passed a naturalization act which for the first time provided clear authority to state officials to institute denaturalization and expatriation proceedings against U.S. citizens in order to dispossess them of their American citizenship. Following the passage of the Act, thousands of denationalization suits were brought against citizens, living both in the United States and abroad. This dissertation examines the phenomenon of citizenship loss in the United States between 1906-1967. Through an analysis of legal proceedings, government correspondence, and archival documents, this dissertation argues that the state used administrative processes of denaturalization and expatriation as forms of “citizenship control” to delimit the boundaries of national membership as well as designate the realms of good citizen behavior. It argues that by divesting those deemed to be undesirable of their citizenship, the state constructed normative citizenship as a sphere appropriately belonging only to white, hetero-patriarchal, male subjects who had sufficiently proven their loyalty and allegiance to the nation. This subject also uncovers citizens’ resistance to denationalization, as well as documents the operations and development of the state on a transnational scale. In doing so, it disrupts popularly held assumptions regarding the stability and security of U.S. citizenship.
Romance Languages and Literatures
Cultural Representations of the Camino de Santiago in Modern Spain
The Spanish pilgrimage route known as the Camino de Santiago is a popular travel destination that involves many international and local institutions and that fascinates thousands of people from all over the world. This success is due in part to the stories around its medieval Christian origins, some of them being about the entombment and miracles of the apostle Santiago. These stories, in combination with other cultural discourses, invent, tell and repeat the past and current experiences of the Camino. At the same time, they reinforce elements that identify it as a traditional pilgrimage. My dissertation project examines three of those defining components as they appear in a variety of literary and visual discourses. I analyze the pilgrim, the landscape, and the cathedral of Santiago the Compostela, the place where tradition locates the bones of the apostle. This project is the first attempt at understanding the Spanish literary phenomenon about the Camino in the past thirty years and to analyze it from an interdisciplinary perspective in correlation to other cultural representations. My dissertation argues that the cultural fixation with this route responds to an unresolved struggle to reconcile tradition with global politics.
C. Michael Hurst
Bodies of Knowledge: The Material Soul of Transcendentalist Epistemology
Emerson famously identified the body and the actual world as the “NOT ME,” and earlier critics followed suit, positioning the Transcendentalists as mere metaphysicians with little worldly concern. The recent material renaissance in Transcendentalist studies, however, reverses this trend, underscoring the Transcendentalists’ keen interest in history, power, science, and political reform. As of yet, however, there has been almost no attention paid to the body, and it is here that my project intervenes, examining the epistemological and ethical dimensions of Transcendental embodiment. The body, housing both mind and senses, is the interface between the real and the ideal and thus plays an indispensable role as a conduit to truth. But bodies are not simply biological objects that mediate experience; they are also mediated by the social and discursive forces that construe different bodies differently, creating hierarchies between them. Slaves, women, and the working class, for example, experience embodiment as a fundamentally oppressive situation to varying degrees. These subjects must first reconstitute the terms of their own embodiment through theorizations and patterns of resistance that rework the ethical order of things before they can attempt to move through a newly liberated body to the transcendent truths of the metaphysical sphere.
Suing the Master:
Enslaved Litigants and Legal Consciousness in Spanish Colonial Louisiana, 1760-1810
My research explores the legal world of slaves in Spanish Louisiana at the end of the eighteenth century. Despite stringent slave laws, enslaved men and women sued their masters and secured freedom in unprecedented numbers. I therefore use slave litigation to provide insights into a previously hidden aspect of slave community life, namely legal consciousness. Enslaved litigants needed knowledge of the law and financial support in order to litigate successfully. They acquired these from a broad community of free and enslaved Africans in colonial Louisiana. This community developed semi-autonomous networks of trade and communication within which valuable information circulated alongside commodities. Enslaved litigants in turn accumulated the financial and legal resources they needed to challenge slaveholders in court. These legal acts joined other threats that the planter class and Spanish colonial officials faced, such as armed Africans in the local militia and ever-expanding maroon communities. Not until the United States acquired the territory did the slave regime in Louisiana effectively disfranchise slaves, disarm Africans, and disperse maroons. Taken together, my research adds to our understanding of slave community and resistance by exploring how enslaved litigants used Spanish slave laws and courts to mitigate the oppression of colonial Louisiana’s slave regime.
From Proclamation to Prohibition:
Race Leadership, Cultural Conflict, and Respectability in Post-Emancipation Black New Orleans
“From Proclamation to Prohibition” complicates the portrait of black New Orleans from 1860 to 1920. Historians of the African-American experience in post-Civil War New Orleans focus almost exclusively on the liminal culture, legal, and social identities of the Creoles of Color as well as their early courageous civil rights activism which lead to the influential Plessy v. Ferguson case. After emancipation, New Orleans underwent significant cultural changes, most notably an influx of non-Creole African Americans from adjacent parishes and counties. This project consider how these demographic and cultural shifts in New Orleans’ black population displaced the city’s Creole of Color as the city’s recognized race leaders in the late-eighteenth and early-twentieth centuries. On the verge of Jim Crow, a new cadre of black Protestant leaders — educated in schools supported by northern missionary associations — gained recognition from white conservatives as ideal representatives of New Orleans’ African-American population. Commenting on the behavior of people of color in the city and surrounding regions, black Protestant leaders often publicly decried vices such as heavy drinking, gambling, and infidelity on display in black working-class neighborhoods as well as in the juke joints and brothels of the New Orleans’ notorious Storyville.