Statelessness in 20th-Century America

October 24, 2011 // 4:00pm5:30pm

What does it mean to be a person without a country? The 14th Amendment of the US Constitution enshrined the long-held principle that birth in the United States conferred citizenship. But efforts are now underway – by some members of Congress and by some state legislators – to challenge that concept of American citizenship as a birthright. France has deported hundreds of Roma on the grounds that they have no right to stay as citizens of the European Union. Two weeks ago India and Bangladesh announced that they intend to address the stateless condition of some 50,000 Biharis on their border. Linda K. Kerber, May Brodbeck Professor of History at the University of Iowa will examine such developments in the context of the history of statelessness in the 20th century, focusing on the evolution of the sixty -year-old UN convention on refugees and stateless persons, a document the United States has not signed. 

A past President of the American Historical Association, Linda K. Kerber is the May Brodbeck Professor of History at the University of Iowa. In her writing and teaching she has emphasized the history of citizenship, gender, and authority. Her books include No Constitutional Right to Be Ladies: Women and the Obligations of Citizenship (1998). 


4th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
Event Speakers List: 
  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
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