In the early 1900s, workers from newly instated U.S. colonies in the Philippines and Puerto Rico held unusual legal status. Denied citizenship, they nonetheless had the right to move freely in and out of U.S. jurisdiction. As a result, Filipinos and Puerto Ricans could seek jobs in the United States and its territories despite the anti-immigration policies in place at the time. JoAnna Poblete's Islanders in the Empire: Filipino and Puerto Rican Laborers in Hawai'i takes an in-depth look at how the two groups fared in a third new colony, Hawai'i. Using plantation documents, missionary records, government documents, and oral histories, Poblete analyzes how workers interacted with Hawaiian government structures and businesses, how U.S. policies for colonial workers differed from those for citizens or foreigners, and how the policies served corporate and imperial aims. As Poblete shows, the workers' advantages came with significant drawbacks. Unlike foreign nationals, Filipinos and Puerto Ricans lacked access to consular and other officials with the power to intercede on labor and other issues. Instead, workers often had to rely on unofficial community mediators who also served employers in positions of authority.A rare tandem study of two groups on foreign soil, Islanders in the Empire offers new views on American imperialism and labor issues of the era.
Islanders in the Empire