2016 - 2016
This project examines the relationship between law and American empire in the U.S. territory of Guam. Until now, Guam has been little more than a footnote in studies of American empire — always mentioned, yet never explored in depth. However, Guam provides an ideal lens for examining the nature of American power around the globe. Bridging legal history and American foreign relations, this project contends that law and legal justifications need to be considered alongside military and economic power as crucial tools of U.S. imperialism. Beginning in 1898, when Guam became an American possession, and continuing through the span of the twentieth century, the United States governed Guam as an exceptional legal space where the Constitution did not fully apply. This project reveals the practical impact of laws and judicial opinions on a colonized people, and sheds light on how law serves as an important facet of both governance and resistance in imperial spaces.