The struggle for citizenship in historical context

Interviews | By Craig Gurian |

April 10, 2013 — Rebecca Scott, Charles Gibson Distinguished University Professor of History and professor of law at the University of Michigan, specializes in the study of post-emancipation societies in the Atlantic world, and has written extensively regarding struggles about what it means to be a citizen and about who gets to be part of a community of citizens.

Her most recent book, co-authored with Jean M. Hébrard, is “Freedom Papers: An Atlantic Odyssey in the Age of Emancipation.”

This semester, she is a visiting professor at Yale University. Last month, Remapping Debate had the opportunity to interview Professor Scott in New Haven over the course of about two hours. We publish below and on the pages that follow extended excerpts from that interview.

Section one of the 14th Amendment states that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” It then goes on to say that “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

I noted to Professor Scott that “it sure sounds like there are privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States.” What are they?

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