Carol Nackenoff and Julie Novkov

Dec 13, 2021

American by Birth

Wong Kim Ark and the Battle for Citizenship

University Press of Kansas 2021

All nations make rules -- through their constitutions, legislatures, bureaucratic practices – about who counts as a citizen. American by Birth examines the role of the Supreme Court – particularly a ruling from 1898 that is still precedent today. Wong Kim Ark v. United States interpreted the language of the 14th Amendment to answer whether a man born in the United States was a citizen. The Court ruled in favor of Wong Kim Ark and held that the 14th Amendment extends to children of immigrants who were born in the United States. Using the work of legal scholars, political scientists, and historians, Drs. Julie L. Novkov and Carol Nackenoff provide an extended biography of Wong Kim Ark and the historic 1898 landmark case – but also a biography of US Citizenship from the colonies to the present. American by Birth: Wong Kim Ark and the Battle for Citizenship (UP of Kansas, 2021) concludes with an impressive chapter that contextualizes birthright citizenship globally and within the context of American politics and scholarly debates – with an emphasis on the vulnerability of birthright citizenship to indirect and direct change.

Dr. Julie L. Novkov is Professor of Political Science and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and interim dean of Rockefeller college at the University at Albany, SUNY. She is the author of Racial Union: Law, Intimacy, and the White State in Alabama, 1865-1954 (UMichigan, 2008).

Dr. Carol Nackenoff is Richter Professor emeritus of Political Science at Swarthmore College. She is the author of The Fictional Republic: Horatio Alger and American Political Discourse (Oxford, 1994).

They are also co-editors of Stating the Family: New Directions in the Study of American Politics (University Press of Kansas, 2020) and Statebuilding from the Margins: Between Reconstruction and the New Deal (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014)

Two resources mentioned in the podcast: Tian Atlas Xu’s “Immigration Attorneys and Chinese Exclusion Law Enforcement: The Case of San Francisco, 1882–1930” and the symposium on American by Birth.

Daniella Campos assisted with this podcast.

Susan Liebell is Dirk Warren '50 Professor of Political Science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

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Susan Liebell is Dirk Warren '50 Professor of Political Science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

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