Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2013


The extension of U.S. citizenship to Puerto Rico has been the object of voluminous scholarly and legal research. The present essay serves as both an introduction to and analysis of the four articles that comprise this special issue of CENTRO Journal. Each of the articles employs a different analytical lens to focus on the intersecting dimensions of citizenship, colonialism, and empire. The essay identifies common themes among the articles with the aim of presenting a unified narrative of the individual contributions. It historicizes the study of Puerto Rican citizenship status by reviewing the modalities of political exclusion the U.S. practiced against racialized populations as it built an “Empire of Freedom” founded on a belief in Anglo-Saxon superiority. Also, the essay begins to elaborate a common theoretical framework to hypothesize how demographic changes, national strategic and security concerns, and shifts in the domestic and international political economy influenced the formation of U.S. citizenship policy toward Puerto Rico.


This article was reproduced with permission of Hunter College, CUNY© 2013: Caban, Pedro. “The Puerto Rican Colonial Matrix: The Etiology of Citizenship,” Centro Journal vol. 25, no. 1 (Spring 2013): 4-21.


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