Cultural Identity and Territorial Autonomy: U.S. Virgin Islands Jurisprudence and the Insular Cases

By Dolace McLean
April 1, 2023

This Essay utilizes the lens of postcolonial theory to analyze the development of U.S. Virgin Islands jurisprudence.  This Essay asserts that the United States’s acquisition of the territory served the purpose of helping to construct an American narrative of moving from colony to colonial power that surpassed its European forebears.  The colonial narrative is fractured by instances of the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands re-narrating territorial space by utilizing legal principles that are informed by local cultural expressions.  Consequently, Virgin Islands jurisprudence is transformed from “colonial dependent” to “postcolonial independent” based on intersectional, progressive principles.