All posts by Kelsey Salvesen

Erman on the Inspiration for His Book and Its Relevance Today

Professor Sam Erman, author of Almost Citizens: Puerto Rico, the U.S. Constitution, and Empire (forthcoming from Cambridge University Press in November 2018), discusses the inspiration for his book, as well as its contemporary relevance. A lightly edited transcription follows the video. You can read more about the book here.

 

I’m interested in the question of citizenship. I think it is an interesting thing to study, because citizenship is something that matters to people in general, and that also is a formal legal category, so it’s a nice place to look at how the government and structures of power and individuals just living in the world interact with each other. The place to look for citizenship is where it is being fought about. Puerto Rico was a promising place because after it was annexed, nobody knew if Puerto Ricans were citizens and Puerto Ricans brought lots of claims trying to establish that they were citizens. So, by looking there, I’m able to see people fighting over the meaning of citizenship; when they do that, they reveal their underlying thoughts about the category.

I think the book resonates in two ways with the present. One is in a very technical way, which is that courts are still deciding constitutional questions that were raised in the period I study. Such as, if you’re born in a U.S. territory that’s not a state, are you a citizen? That question was left open in the early twentieth century and the Supreme Court has never decided it. So, I write amicus briefs and I submit them to courts and tell them “here’s what the history is on this question, and that might help you decide this case.” The other way the book seems relevant in this moment is that, in the period I study, it was not a period of dog whistle politics. People’s racism and sexism was right out in the open—people thought it made sense to just talk about these things, and they were incapable of seeing the world without putting on these racist and sexist lenses. And so, in a moment when our politics have become coarser, when questions of race and sex seem more on the surface, I think remembering a prior time when that happened (and how it affected the way judges decided cases and politicians decided issues) can be very helpful.

Almost Citizens: Puerto Rico, the U.S. Constitution, and Empire

Sam Erman. Forthcoming from Cambridge University Press in November 2018.

Almost Citizens lays out the tragic story of how the United States denied Puerto Ricans full citizenship following annexation of the island in 1898. As America became an overseas empire, a handful of remarkable Puerto Ricans debated with US legislators, presidents, judges, and others over who was a citizen and what citizenship meant. This struggle caused a fundamental shift in constitution law: away from the post-Civil War regime of citizenship, rights, and statehood and toward doctrines that accommodated racist imperial governance. Erman’s gripping account shows how, in the wake of the Spanish-American War, administrators, lawmakers, and presidents together with judges deployed creativity and ambiguity to transform constitutional meaning for a quarter of a century. The result is a history in which the United States and Latin America, Reconstruction and empire, and law and bureaucracy intertwine.

Listen to Erman discuss his book as part of the SLH video series here.

About the Author:

Sam Erman is an Assistant Professor of Law at the USC Gould School of Law. He came to USC from the Smithsonian Institution, where he was a postdoctoral fellow in Latino studies. Erman’s primary areas of research include the history of Puerto Rico and its relations with the United States. His dissertation, Puerto Rico and the Constitution: Struggles around Status and Governance in a New Empire, 1898-1925 examines closely the United States’ promise of citizenship to Puerto Rico.

Prior to his fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution, Erman was a Raoul-Berger-Mark DeWolfe Howe Legal History Fellow at Harvard Law School. He clerked for Judge John Paul Stevens and Judge Anthony M. Kennedy of the United States Supreme Court and Judge Merrick B. Garland of the United States Court of Appeals. He received his JD from the University of Michigan Law School, summa cum laude, and his PhD in American Culture from the University of Michigan. He completed his AB in English at Harvard College, cum laude.

You can read a longer bio of Professor Erman on the USC website here.

Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America

Martha S. Jones. Cambridge University Press, June 2018. Available  via Amazon and Cambridge University Press.

Before the Civil War, colonization schemes and black laws threatened to deport former slaves born in the United States. Birthright Citizens recovers the story of how African American activists remade national belonging through battles in legislatures, conventions, and courthouses. They faced formidable opposition, most notoriously from the US Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott. Still, Martha S. Jones explains, no single case defined their status. Former slaves studied law, secured allies, and conducted themselves like citizens, establishing their status through local, everyday claims. All along they argued that birth guaranteed their rights. With fresh archival sources and an ambitious reframing of constitutional law-making before the Civil War, Jones shows how the Fourteenth Amendment constitutionalized the birthright principle, and black Americans’ aspirations were realized. Birthright Citizens tells how African American activists radically transformed the terms of citizenship for all Americans.

Endorsements:

“Beautifully written and deeply researched, Birthright Citizens transforms our understanding of the evolution of citizenship in nineteenth-century America.  Martha Jones demonstrates how the constitutional revolution of Reconstruction had roots not simply in legal treatises and court decisions but in the day to day struggles of  pre-Civil War African-Americans for equal rights as members of the national community.”
–Eric Foner, Columbia University

“Martha Jones’s ‘history of race and rights’ utterly upends our understanding of the genealogy of citizenship. By showcasing ordinary people acting on their understanding of law’s potentialities, Jones demonstrates the vibrancy of antebellum black ideas of birthright citizenship and their impact on black political and intellectual life. Written with verve, and pulling back the curtain on the scholar’s craft, Birthright Citizens makes an important contribution to both African American and socio-legal history.” 
–Dylan Penningroth, University of California, Berkeley

Birthright Citizens gives new life to a long trajectory of African Americans’ efforts to contest the meaning of citizenship through law and legal action.  They claimed citizenship rights in the courts of Baltimore, decades before the concept was codified in the federal constitution – ordinary people, even the formally disfranchised, actively engaged in shaping what citizenship meant for everyone. Martha Jones takes a novel approach that scholars and legal practitioners will need to reckon with to understand history and our own times.”
–Tera Hunter, Princeton University

Birthright Citizens is a brilliant and richly researched work that could not be more timely. Who is inside and who is outside the American circle of citizenship has been a fraught question from the Republic’s very beginnings. With great clarity and insight, Jones mines available records to show how one group–black Americans in pre-Civil War Baltimore– sought to claim rights of citizenship in a place where they had lived and labored. This is a must-read for all who are interested in what it means to be an American.”
–Annette Gordon-Reed, Harvard University

“In this exacting study, legal historian Martha Jones reinterprets the Dred Scott decision through a fresh and utterly revealing lens, reframing this key case as just one moment in a long and difficult contest over race and rights. Jones mines Baltimore court records to uncover a textured legal landscape in which free black men and women knew and used the law to push for and act on rights not clearly guaranteed to them. Her sensitive and brilliant analysis transforms how we view the status of free blacks under the law, even as her vivid writing brings Baltimore vibrantly alive, revealing the import of local domains and institutions – states, cities, courthouses, churches, and even ships – to the larger national drama of African American history. Part meditation on a great nineteenth-century city, part implicit reflection on contemporary immigration politics, and part historical-legal thriller, Birthright Citizens is an astonishing revelation of the intricacies and vagaries of black struggles for the rights of citizenship.”
–Tiya Miles, author of The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits

In the News:

  • Jones’ Birthright Citizens declared a “must read” race and culture book of the summer by Colorlines.
  • Lapham Quarterly excerpted Birthright Citizens in July 2018.
  • Newbooksnetwork.com published an interview with Jones about Birthright Citizens.
  • Professor Jones discussed Birthright Citizens in an interview with WYPR in July 2018.

 

About the Author:

Professor Martha S. Jones is a legal and cultural historian whose interests include the study of race, law, citizenship, slavery, and the rights of women. She holds a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and a J.D. from the CUNY School of Law. Professor Jones joined the Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences Department of History in June 2017 as the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and Professor of History. She came from the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science, and the Arts the University of Michigan where she was a Presidential Bicentennial Professor, Professor of history and Afroamerican and African Studies. She was a founding director of the Michigan Law School Program in Race, Law & History and a senior fellow in the Michigan Society of Fellows. Prior to joining the Michigan faculty, she was a public interest litigator in New York City and a Charles H. Revson Fellow on the Future of the City of New York at Columbia University.

In addition to Birthright Citizens (Cambridge University Press, 2018), Professor Jones is the author of All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture 1830-1900 (University of North Carolina Press, 2007) and a coeditor of Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women (University of North Carolina Press, 2015), together with many important articles and essays. Her work includes the curatorship of museum exhibitions, including “Reframing the Color Line” and “Proclaiming Emancipation” in conjunction with the William L. Clements Library. Professor Jones’s essays and commentary have appeared in the Washington Post, the Chronicle of Higher Education, CNN, and the Detroit Free Press, among other news outlets.

Her work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Humanities Center, the National Constitution Center, and the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History. Today, Professor Jones serves as Co-President of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, and was recently elected to the Organization of American Historians Executive Board. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland and Paris, France with her husband, historian Jean Hébrard.

Professor Jones also maintains a personal website where you can read more about her scholarship and upcoming talks/appearances at marthasjones.com

Jones on Protesting NFL Players

Martha S. Jones, professor of history at Johns Hopkins University and SLH author, recently penned an op-ed in the Washington Post titled “Trump said protesting NFL players ‘shouldn’t be in this country.’ We should take him seriously.” In the piece, Professor Jones responds to President Trump’s remarks regarding protesting NFL players and considers the  historical context for his actions.  Jones is the author of Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America (forthcoming from Cambridge University Press, Summer 2018). You can read the full op-ed here, on the Washington Post website.

Kolla on the Writing Process and Links Between Projects

Professor Edward Kolla of Georgetown University Qatar discusses the inspiration for his next project and its ties to his recently published book (Sovereignty, International Law, and the French Revolution) in this third segment of our interview series. You can watch the interview in the video clip below and follow along with the lightly edited transcript that follows. Want to learn more about Professor Kolla’s work? Check out  interview installments one and two in the Studies in Legal History video series.

So, I would say the writing process for the book was challenging; it was the first time I’ve done anything like this and so it was a lot of work (but I enjoyed it, obviously). I’m now straight into my next project, which is a similar project in terms of the history of international law. It’s about the history of the passport.

This project is born of my love of travel. I’ve always loved to travel; I’m sure I was standing in a lineup somewhere, staring down at my passport, waiting to go through immigration and thought, you know, “what is the history behind this document? I should probably know the history behind this document.” It’s actually quite an elusive history. In that way, it’s similar to my first book because the way that popular sovereignty enters discourse about international law is not something that is proactively decided by states. The principle of popular sovereignty does not become a principle of international law because all countries get together and agree on it; revolutionaries start embracing these ideas, they apply them in certain diplomatic situations, and slowly over time it becomes a principle of international law. The history of the passport is also one of legal happenstance. All states never got together and agreed they needed passports and that passports needed to look a certain way. It’s, again, a story of historical development, so in that way the projects are very similar.

The other overlap between the projects is that the French Revolution was an important moment in the history of the passport. Up until the French Revolution, it was taken for granted that if you were carrying some kind of identity document when you’re traveling, the person carrying that document is the person for whom it was intended. It was only at the time of the French Revolution that Revolutionaries started thinking, “Oh no! People could be smuggling, or émigrés could be escaping from France.” So they actually started to write the description of the bearer of these documents on the documents themselves. So, not just hair color or eye color, but shape of nose, and size of forehead. That was really the first moment that these documents started to include information about who the bearer was and this is obviously the precursor to the photographs and biometric data that are used in passports today.

Call for Applications: Johnson Program for First Book Authors

The American Society for Legal History (ASLH) announces a new program designed to provide advice and support to scholars working toward the publication of first books in legal history, broadly defined. In conversation with peers and with the advice of senior scholars, participants will develop and revise book proposals and sample chapters, and they will meet with guest editors to learn about approaching and working with publishers.

Applications for Johnson Fellows are invited from early career, pre-tenure scholars, publishing in English, who have completed PhDs or JDs and are working on first books in legal history. Scholars with expertise in all chronological periods and geographical fields are encouraged to apply, as are students who may not (yet) identify as legal historians.

The Johnson Program will begin in November, 2018 at the ASLH Annual Meeting in Houston and will include two in-person workshops and one remote consultation on work-in-progress:

  • November 8, 2018: One-day workshop at the ASLH Annual Meeting (Houston, TX), introduction to book publishing and prospectus writing;
  • Spring 2019 (date TBD): Remote meeting, peer and senior scholar feedback on draft prospectus; and
  • Summer 2019 (July 26-27): Two-day workshop on draft chapters, University of Pennsylvania Law School.

The 2018-19 Johnson Program will be led by Professor Reuel Schiller, with the participation of other senior legal historians. Participants must commit to participation in all three meetings. The program will include up to 5 Fellows and will provide substantial funding for travel and accommodation.

Application Guidelines:

The application deadline is June 30, 2018. Applicants should submit (as a single document, Times New Roman, 12 point font):

  • cover letter (single spaced, not exceeding two pages) describing the applicant’s professional trajectory to date and reasons for interest in the Johnson Program;
  • curriculum vitae (including contact information);
  • project abstract (single spaced; up to 100 words)
  • project description (single spaced; not exceeding 750 words) organized with the following sections and headings: Introduction, Significance, Design and Methodology, Chapter Outline, Plans for Revision, and Progress to Date.
  • two letters of recommendation from faculty members, at least one of whom should have been a major advisor of the project (sent separately from the other materials).

All materials should be submitted to Barbara Welke (welke004@umn.edu), Chair, University of Minnesota by June 30, 2018.

The 2018 Johnson Program for First Book Authors Committee:

Barbara Young Welke, Chair, University of Minnesota, welke004@umn.edu
Lauren Benton, Vanderbilt University, lauren.benton@vanderbilt.edu
Sam Erman, USC Gould School of Law, serman@law.usc.edu
Kurt Graham, NARA, kurt.graham@nara.gov

Reuel Schiller, UC Hastings College of Law, schiller@uchastings.edu
Rayman Solomon, University of Rutgers-Camden School of Law, raysol@camlaw.rutgers.edu
Matthew Sommer, Stanford University, msommer@stanford.edu

Notification:

Applicants will be notified by July 30, 2018. Please direct any questions to Barbara Welke.

Kolla on Sources

Professor Edward Kolla of Georgetown University Qatar discusses the source base for his recent book, Sovereignty, International Law, and the French Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2017), and the importance of one source in particular–diplomatic communiques. A lightly edited transcript follows. You can also check out further conversations with Professor Kolla about his work here.

 

 

 

The source base for the book was very diverse. I looked at materials from a number of different of archives in France (the National Archives and National Library in Paris), but also regional archives in a number of the areas that I study in the book (I did research in Alsace, Corsica, Avignon). Probably the most important source for the book were diplomatic communiqués housed in the French Foreign Ministry Archives (which used to be a great place to do research; it was in the old Foreign Ministry at the Quai d’Orsay. The archives have since been moved out, but you used to walk past the Minister’s Office to get to the reading room). And like I say, those diplomatic communiqués were probably the most important source for my book because one thing I really wanted to examine was the way the law operated in practice. That is, the way diplomats—and French officials and everyday people in popular pamphlet literature, etc., but especially diplomats—were thinking about the law and how they saw the law as applying to actual diplomatic problems and issues of importance in the day that needed to be dealt with. So it’s not just a book about international law as theory or international law as doctrine but really about how people—like I said, diplomats, but also just average people in the streets in France—thought about the law and how it could impact their lives.

Kolla on Popular Sovereignty and the French Revolution

Professor Edward Kolla of Georgetown University Qatar delves into the history of the idea of popular sovereignty, its roots in the French Revolution, and its relevance to territorial claims in more modern times. Professor Kolla is the author of Sovereignty, International Law, and the French Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2017). A lightly edited transcript of the video follows.

 

 

The central idea of my book, as the title probably indicates, is the impact and effect of the French Revolution for the history of international law. More specifically, I was looking at how the idea of popular sovereignty began to have an effect in international law, which was something that French revolutionaries hadn’t originally envisaged. Popular sovereignty is probably the central idea of the Revolution, both domestically, but also for international law. It’s the idea that the people have control of the government. And, like I said, initially French revolutionaries didn’t envisage this idea applying to all peoples. But, soon, through a series of diplomatic incidents, people–first on the margins of France–started to take up this idea of popular sovereignty and claim a role for themselves in making territorial claims in international law.

The book charts how these ideas spread, first from the margins of France, but then how the revolutionaries themselves started taking up the ideas and using them later, once revolutionary wars break out, to start making territorial claims of their own. This is something that goes against the historiography of the Revolution in a couple of ways. First of all, the Revolution isn’t really examined much in the history of international law. But, with respect to the Revolution itself, people tend to think about revolutionaries making these claims to try and change the international system—to try and change the world. Whereas, initially, this impact of popular sovereignty outside of France’s borders was something that revolutionaries were actually quite timid about applying. So it is actually a story of revolutionaries kind of being caught between a rock and a hard place; they wanted to stay true to these ideas of popular sovereignty when peoples outside of France were starting to take them up (in places like Corsica and in places like Avignon, which had been controlled by the Pope). But, over time, the revolutionaries saw that these ideas were fundamental principles that they held dear, but also could be quite useful—like I said, in that later period of revolution, when they started using them to make territorial claims.

Overall, the book is kind of an origin story of a principle that by the twentieth century comes to be called national self-determination; again, the idea that peoples themselves get to choose the status of their territory. We see that idea in the news all over the world today. Just last year, there were plebiscites in Catalonia for independence from Spain and in Iraqi Kurdistan for independence from that country. So, you see this principle of peoples making claims that their status—the status of their territory—could change in international law based solely on the people’s choice. This is a very important principle in the world today, and it dates back to the time of the French Revolution.

Martha Jones on Birthright Citizens

In this video, Professor Martha Jones of the University of Michigan discusses her book Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America (Cambridge University Press, Summer 2018). The video, courtesy of Michigan Law, provides an overview of the forthcoming book and its implications for thinking about citizenship in America. An edited transcription follows.

 

I’m finishing a book called Birthright Citizens, which is a look at race and citizenship in a somewhat unexplored period. That is, the period before the U.S. Civil War; the period before the amendment of the Constitution, with the 14th Amendment providing birthright citizenship for the first time in the United States. My case study is three African Americans, former slaves, and their descendants. All with a mind toward understanding how, as a nation, we grapple with people who occupy this in-between status–neither slaves, nor fully free citizens. How, in law, do we regard those people? Most often that story is told through a somewhat notorious US Supreme Court case called Dread Scott vs. Sandford, in which the court, through Roger Taney, declaims that no black person can be a citizen of the United States. It turns out that, while Taney was quite sure about his ideas, he really was just one volley in what was an extended debate about race and citizenship before the Civil War.

So, for me, the story begins in the eighteen-twenties with three African American activists themselves, who–through local courthouses, high court arguments, legislatures, and political conventions–again and again make the argument that they are citizens of the United States. Again and again, they make the argument that by virtue of birthright, military service, and their contributions to the economic prosperity of the nation, they should be citizens.

It’s an important chapter in part because it tells a new version of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was not merely a creature of the U.S. Senate, but actually came out of the activism of free African Americans themselves. 

Binyamin Blum Reviews Likhovski for Jotwell

In January 2018, Binyamin Blum reviewed Assaf Likhovski’s Tax Law and Social Norms in Mandatory Palestine and Israel (Cambridge University Press, 2017) for Jotwell. The review can be found on the Jotwell website and is also reproduced below. You can learn more about the book by watching the series of short clips Professor Likhovski recorded for SLH concerning his project. 

On Fiscal History: A Cultural History of Tax Law
Binyamin Blum

Accused by Hillary Clinton of paying no income tax for years, in one of the most memorable moments of the 2016 presidential debates, Donald Trump retorted, “That makes me smart.” Days later, Rudolph Giuliani took Trump’s comment a step further, stating that tax avoidance demonstrated the candidate’s “absolute genius.”During the campaign Trump flouted a forty-year tradition among presidential candidates by refusing to release his tax returns. Pundits speculated that all this might affect Trump’s electability. But as we found out on November 8, 2016, voters did not seem to penalize him for this (or other) behavior.

This election episode epitomizes the declining relationship among tax, civic identity, and citizenship,1 which are at the center of Assaf Likhovski’s Tax Law and Social Norms in Mandatory Palestine and Israel. Likhovski explores the rise and rapid fall of what he calls the “intimate fiscal state”: a state seeking to ensure its citizens’ tax compliance through a close, direct, and almost family-like relationship, relying more on social norms than legal sanctions.

Spanning most of the twentieth century, Likhovski’s book is divided into three parts. Part I analyzes the transition from arbitrary and corrupt Ottoman taxation, extracted primarily by tax farmers (for-profit non-state intermediaries responsible for tax assessment and collection), towards a more rational taxation system, levied directly by a centralized Ottoman and later British state. With more accurate and detailed information about their subjects, these bureaucratic states were able to assess and levy taxes more equitably and efficiently. Part II, “The Ascendancy of Social Norms,” explores the final years of the British Mandate and the first years of Israeli statehood, an era when reliance on community norms to encourage compliance thrived. Drawing on the tradition of community taxes in the Jewish Diaspora and on Zionist civic republican ideology, Palestine’s Jewish inhabitants began introducing an array of self-imposed, “voluntary compulsory” taxes to support various causes: self-defense, unemployment benefits, public works, and the rescue of European Jewry, to name a few.

Though some organizations such as the Kartell Jüdischer Verbindungen, an organization of German-Zionist academics in Palestine, sought to impose these taxes through legal and quasi-legal mechanisms, taxes were enforced primarily through social networks. (P. 122.) The Jewish Agency encouraged payment through various media, such as literature and art propaganda, but without any formal backing (and despite certain reservations) of state officials and state law. Even resort to shaming through mechanisms such as “evader lists” was rare. Still, these taxes generated more than double the revenue collected by the colonial state, even after the British introduced an income tax in 1941. This civic republican ethos carried into the first decades of Israeli statehood. By creating a strong sense of community, the new “intimate fiscal state” successfully instilled a sense of duty, loyalty, and trust. It conveyed to its citizens the importance of paying for the establishment and maintenance of “their” state.

But this era was short-lived, lasting only two decades: As Likhovski explains in Part III, a convergence of related social, political, and cultural factors, such as an abating security threat, greater social heterogeneity, and (perhaps most importantly) the waning of collectivism, led to the decline of social norms concerning tax compliance. This social transformation contributed to the rising influence of tax professionals, namely, accountants and lawyers. Likhovski carefully and skillfully analyzes the interplay between their increasing involvement and the transformation of tax norms, which reflected—and were designed to counter—their involvement.

Likhovski argues that the connection between taxes and citizenship became even more tenuous as these experts became more deeply involved as intermediaries and policy designers, and as they began to reorient their duties from the state towards their clients—the individual tax-payers. Initially viewing their charge as ensuring that “tax laws be implemented justly and equally,” (P. 233) accountants fulfilled an educational role and enjoyed the trust of the state and taxpayer alike. But by the 1960s their statist rhetoric gave way to a more client-friendly approach. They also began openly criticizing tax policy, advocating tax simplification to eliminate state bureaucracy and to secure the interests of individuals, investors, and corporations. The legal profession followed a similar pattern: lawyers, who initially fit rather uncomfortably within the collectivist, industrial Zionist ethos, managed to establish their position in the Israeli collective as promoters of respect for the law and for the state. (P. 240.) Yet by the late 1960s, they too increasingly began perceiving their duty as primarily shielding clients from tax responsibilities rather than enforcing the state’s interests. Finally, during this same period, Israeli economists reexamined their fundamental assumptions regarding what may be called the “Homo Israelicus.” Initially convinced of Zionist exceptionalism, which placed the collective ahead of individual interest, by the 1970s Israeli economists were designing tax policy in a more scientific, universalist fashion. They reoriented their perspective from statist to individualist. This growing involvement of experts transformed tax legal norms in Israel, which became more flexible and intrusive to counter non-compliance and overly creative professional “tax planning.”

Some readers might criticize the disproportionate attention the book pays to Palestine and Israel’s Jewish community. Though Arab subjects and citizens do receive some consideration, the book focuses primarily on the Jewish community (and on Zionist Jews in particular) even though Palestine’s Arab population was significantly larger during most of the period analyzed. Still, given Likhovski’s inquiry, his selection is judicious. Though one may glean useful insights regarding the connection between tax and civic identity by thoroughly examining “outsider” groups, it is through the transformation in the social norms of insiders that this social phenomenon—namely, the weakening of the relationship between tax and civic identity—is best explored. It is within this group that one may observe the greatest ebb and flow in social norms concerning tax compliance, from voluntary to compliant to cautiously avoidant.

Though Likhovski’s account is, as he acknowledges, primarily top-down, he draws on a broad array of sources to depict a vivid social and cultural history of taxation. He relies not only on judicial decisions and legislative histories but also on propaganda films, posters, and literature produced by Israeli taxation authorities and Israel’s Tax Museum, and on children’s books and satire. The result is a highly entertaining read. Likhovski once again demonstrates his outstanding aptitude for storytelling that combines a keen eye for unusual details with broad theoretical insights. Though Likhovski’s book focuses on Palestine/Israel, it offers broader insights concerning fiscal citizenship and how tax evasion has transformed over time from vice to virtue. As one visitor to Israel’s Tax Museum noted: “I do not believe that one [could] find such a subject, that is really so dry, exciting, but I did.” (P. 175.) I think most readers will agree.

  1. Or what Lawrence Zelenak has termed “fiscal citizenship.” See Lawrence Zelenak, Learning to Love Form 1040: Two Cheers for the Return-Based Mass Income Tax (2013). []

Binyamin Blum, On Fiscal Citizenship: A Cultural History of Tax Law, JOTWELL (January 11, 2018) (reviewing Assaf Likhovski, Tax Law and Social Norms in Mandatory Palestine and Israel (2017)), https://legalhist.jotwell.com/fiscal-citizenship-cultural-history-tax-law/.