The introduction tackles the place of piracy in the creation of the U.S. nation-state and more expansive conceptions of citizenship. Piracy is not simply an act of robbery against an individual man or institution, but rather a behavior that contests the very legitimacy and integrity of the state. And yet, as historical and cultural studies of piracy show, piracy is also a behavior that is capable of creating novel forms of community. It is a behavior that those with little to no claims to protections from the state turn to in order to ensure economic and social survival through property ownership. After all, property has always been integral in the creation of citizenship and has played a pivotal role in the development of normative conceptions of U.S. citizenship and national belonging that reverberate across the Americas. By making property accessible to those individuals altogether excluded from the category of the citizen, dispossessed persons’ expressions of property ownership structurally upset and ultimately unsettle the state’s dispensation of property and citizenship. In sum, dispossessed persons’ ownership of property is always a form of piracy in that it troubles the legitimacy, integrity, and power of the dispossessive nation-state.
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