Beyond the State: A Social History of Legal Exclusion in the United States

Bloomberg, Anne, Sociology - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Kumar, Krishan, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia
Rinaldo, Rachel, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia
Vickerman, Milton, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia
Balfour, Katharine, Department of Politics, University of Virginia

This dissertation is a social history of legal exclusion in the United States. Tracing the increasing significance of citizenship as a legal and social category over three key time periods, I argue that the goalposts of legal inclusion have shifted from subjective, race-based protections in the 19th century, to those based on national citizenship in the 20th century, to an increasingly complex bureaucratic category today. Using legislative debates, judicial opinions, law reviews, and secondary sources, I compare the struggle of Mexican and African Americans in the decades surrounding the Civil War; women and European refugees in the WWI-WWII period; and asylum seekers and undocumented today. As the legally excluded, become incorporated the boundary shifts creating a new category of exclusion that comes to seem natural and justified. Focusing on legal exclusion, or the loss of right to have rights, provides conceptual clarity and shows the changing nature of statelessness over time. This has theoretical implications for our understanding of citizenship and rights as well as practical implications for how we address the problem of rightlessness today.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Legal Exclusion, Citizenship, Statelessness, Rights, Asylum Seekers, Unauthorized Immigrants, Nationalism, Post-Nationalism
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