Tag: Emily Evans

Fitisemanu, the Insular Cases, and Territorial Autonomy

By: Emily Evans

The Insular Cases are a longstanding series of cases from the early 20th century concerning the status of U.S. territories and their inhabitants. These cases introduced the doctrine of territorial non-incorporation, which justified the ownership of the United States over acquired foreign territories without incorporating these territories and denying inhabitants their rights and equal protection under the law as U.S. citizens.[1] Objectively, these cases were based on social Darwinist ideologies about the people indigenous to these territories, as they practiced vastly different cultures and were primarily non-white. The precedent set in these cases has allowed the United States to justify its 20th-century imperialism while perpetuating racist falsehoods about the non-white populations living in these unincorporated territories.[2] It also permits the government to actively deny certain benefits to their inhabitants who have second-class status as U.S. citizens or do not have citizenship at all.[3]