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The legal construction of American colonialism: An inquiry into the constitutive force of law

Rivera-Ramos, Efrén; (1994) The legal construction of American colonialism: An inquiry into the constitutive force of law. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis is an exploration of the relationship between law and colonialism. Adopting the theoretical perspective that law must be viewed as constitutive of the social world, the thesis examines several ways in which law has operated to legitimate, consolidate and reproduce the American colonial project in the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. The first chapter sets out the theoretical framework of the thesis: Law - a social product - is one of the dimensions of the social world. It is constitutive of social consciousness, provides a context for action and discourse, articulates explicit justifications for the exercise of power, creates legal and political subjects and operates many times as a mechanism for the reproduction of legitimation and hegemony. The second chapter places in historical context the relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico. The third chapter discusses how the Supreme Court of the United States, in a series of cases called the 'Insular Cases', justified explicitly the American colonial project. A discussion of the legal doctrine, the legal theory and the ideology of the Cases is followed by an analysis of how the Court's discourse has operated to legitimate colonialism, by constituting the Puerto Rican as a specific legal and political subject, by creating a discursive universe and producing a specific context for social and political action. A socio-historical explanation of the cases is provided. Chapter IV analyses how the law granting American citizenship to Puerto Ricans has contributed to reproduce American hegemony in the territory. Chapter V examines the way in which a regime of rights, the ideology of the rule of law and a system of partial democracy have contributed to legitimate the colonial relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The legal construction of American colonialism: An inquiry into the constitutive force of law
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Social sciences; Colonialism
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10104303
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