Making Never-Never Land

Race and Law in the Creation of Puerto Rico

By Mónica A. Jiménez

190 pp., 6.125 x 9.25

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7845-0
    Published: June 2024
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-7844-3
    Published: June 2024
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-7846-7
    Published: April 2024

Latinx Histories

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Puerto Rico has been an "unincorporated territory" of the United States for over a century. For much of that time, the archipelago has been mostly invisible to US residents and neglected by the government. However, a series of crises in the first two decades of the twenty-first century, from outsized debt to climate fueled disasters, have led to massive protests and brought Puerto Rico greater visibility.

Mónica A. Jiménez argues that to fully understand how and why Puerto Rico finds itself in this current moment of precarity, we must look to a larger history of US settler colonialism and racial exclusion in law. The federal policies and jurisprudence that created Puerto Rico exist within a larger pantheon of exclusionary, race-based laws and policies that have carved out "states of exception" for racial undesirables: Native Americans, African Americans, and the inhabitants of the insular territories. This legal regime has allowed the federal government plenary or complete power over these groups. Jiménez brings these histories together to demonstrate that despite Puerto Rico’s unique position as a twenty-first-century colony, its path to that place was not exceptional.

About the Author

Mónica A. Jiménez is assistant professor of African and African Diaspora studies at the University of Texas at Austin.
For more information about Mónica A. Jiménez, visit the Author Page.


"Jiménez presents an insightful legal analysis of Puerto Rico and how the U.S. government treats it. . . . Both scholars and general readers interested in learning more about Puerto Rico’s past and recent history will appreciate this work."—Library Journal

"This fantastic book, which traces the racial logics that have informed US legal decisions that undermine Puerto Rico's sovereignty, will have a tremendous impact across Puerto Rican studies, legal studies, American studies, Native American studies, and other fields."—Joaquín Villanueva, Gustavus Adolphus College

"A timely and important contribution to our understanding of the long colonial crisis in Puerto Rico under US rule. Taking seriously the injunction to study history from the margins, Jiménez uses Puerto Rico as a case study for the operation of US settler colonialism as a racial and legal project."—Samuel Erman, University of Michigan