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In 1917 the United States Congress imposed citizenship on the inhabitants of Puerto Rico. It was a contingent citizenship subject to legal redefi nition and tailored to Puerto Rico’s colonial status within the U.S. empire. Many scholars have argued that racism was determinative in the decision to consign Puerto Ricans a diminished citizenship. But it is necessary to point out that the U.S. had crafted an adaptive racial narrative that distinguished among racialized people under its sovereignty in terms of their capacities for self-government and ability to comprehend Anglo-Saxon political and legal institutions. Moreover, in addition to racism, strategic considerations and territorial policies and legal precedents fi gured prominently in the decision to impose an unprecedented citizenship status on Puerto Ricans.


This article was reproduced with permission of Hunter College, CUNY© 2017: Caban, Pedro. "Puerto Ricans as contingent citizens: Shifting mandated identities and imperial disjunctures." Centro, vol. 29, no. 1 (2017): 238-283.



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