"She consents implicitly": Women's Citizenship, Marriage, and Liberal Political Theory in Late-Nineteenth and Early-Twentieth-Century Argentina

Through Argentine Supreme Court cases, this article focuses on legal constructs of women's citizenship and identity in Argentina in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Although the Supreme Court consistently denied having done so, its jurisprudence created dependent citizenship for married Argentine women, conflating a wife's identity with that of her spouse in both domicile and nationality cases. Using concepts of consent, knowledge, and obligation found in liberal political theory, judges and legal scholars justified a married woman's dependent citizenship as the reasonable consequence of her own independent choice. Yet the law--not a woman's choice--expatriated her. The Supreme Court's conception of a unified marital identity subsumed a married woman's nationality under her husband's citizenship and reinforced her legal subordination to him. She was, at the same moment, both Argentine and not Argentine, depending on the particular issue at hand and her husband's national status.