Faculty Colloquium Series: Katherine Unterman

“An Empire above the Law: The Insular Cases in the U.S. Territories”

Tuesday, 18 October 2016, 4-5 p.m.
Glasscock Center Library, 311 Glasscock Building
The paper is available to members of the Center’s listserv, or by contacting the Glasscock Center by phone at (979) 845-8328 or by e-mail at glasscock@tamu.edu.

unterman-photoKatherine R. Unterman| Assistant Professor, Department of History, Texas A&M University

Katherine R. Unterman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Texas A&M University. She received her Ph.D. in History from Yale University in 2011. Professor Unterman also holds a Masters in Legal Studies from Stanford Law School and a B.A. from Harvard University. Dr. Unterman began teaching at Texas A&M University in Fall 2011. She specializes in 19th century U.S. history, American foreign relations, and legal history. Her first book, Uncle Sam’s Policemen: The Pursuit of Fugitives Across Borders, was published by Harvard University Press in 2015.

In 1898, after the Spanish-American War, the United States took possession of new territories such as Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam. In a series of decisions known as the Insular Cases, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution did not apply fully in these territories. This meant that local populations were subject to U.S. rule, yet lacked the full constitutional rights that stateside citizens possessed. This paper looks specifically at the lack of jury trials in the territories and the implications for colonial rule. It focuses on the case of Guam, one of the most understudied U.S. territories. The people of Guam, as elsewhere, did not passively accept the legacy of the Insular Cases. For decades, they struggled for rights such as jury trials, which were finally instated in 1956.

The Faculty Colloquium offers faculty an opportunity to discuss a work-in-progress with colleagues from different disciplines. By long-standing practice, colloquium presenters provide a draft of their current research, which is made available to members of the Glasscock Center listserv. Each colloquium begins with the presenter’s short (10-15 minute) exposition of the project, after which the floor is open for comments and queries. The format is by design informal, conversational, and interdisciplinary.

The Glasscock Center extends a warm invitation to faculty and students to join in a discussion of Professor Unterman’s work-in-progress. The paper is available to members of the Center’s listserv, or by contacting the Glasscock Center by phone at (979) 845-8328 or by e-mail at glasscock@tamu.edu. To join the Center’s listserv and receive regular notices of colloquia and other events, please register at http://listserv.tamu.edu/archives/chr-l.html.