Miller Center

Katherine Unterman

History, Yale University

Nowhere to Hide: International Rendition and American Power

Unterman photo

Katherine Unterman is Assistant Professor of History at Texas A&M University.

Katherine Unterman received her Ph.D. in History from Yale University in 2011. She also holds a Masters in Legal Studies from Stanford Law School and a B.A. from Harvard University. Dr. Unterman began teaching at Texas A&M University in Fall 2011. She specializes in 19th century U.S. history, American foreign relations, and legal history. Her book manuscript, Nowhere to Hide: International Fugitives and American Power, examines the history of international manhunts and the pursuit of fugitive criminals.

Covering the 1850s through the 1930s, Unterman's dissertation chronicled the international rendition of fugitives as both a set of practices that reached American power across borders, and the cultural ideas that justified it. With extensive research on extradition, international law, and criminology, she traces the evolving mechanics of international manhunts—the treaties, technologies, and procedures that enabled American law to reach beyond its borders. Equally important, she also analyzes jurisdiction as discourse: a set of ideas and representations of a shrinking world, where someone who broke American law had nowhere to hide. She argues that law needs to be considered alongside military and economic power as a tool of U.S. informal imperialism at the turn of the twentieth century. Bridging domestic and international history, she explains how Americans downplayed the question of other nations' sovereignty by treating international policing as a matter of maintaining law and order at home. These late-nineteenth-century precedents were eventually institutionalized by government agencies like the FBI and DEA, and have even been used to justify the practice of extraordinary rendition today.

Fellowship year: 2011

Mentor: Elizabeth Cobbs, Stanford UniversityTexas A&M University

Selected Recent Publications

Uncle Sam’s Policemen: The Pursuit of Fugitives Across Borders. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015)

Boodle over the Border: Embezzlement and the Crisis of International Mobility, 1880-1890.Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 11, no. 2 (April 2012).

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