front cover of The Aborigines of Puerto Rico and Neighboring Islands
The Aborigines of Puerto Rico and Neighboring Islands
Jesse Walter Fewkes
University of Alabama Press, 2009
A valuable recounting of the first formal archaeological excavations in Puerto Rico

Originally published as the Twenty-Fifth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in 1907, this book was praised in an article in American Anthropologist as doing “more than any other to give a comprehensive idea of the archaeology of the West Indies.”

Until that time, for mainly political reasons, little scientific research had been conducted by Americans on any of the Caribbean islands. Dr. Fewkes' unique skills of observation and experience served him well in the quest to understand Caribbean prehistory and culture. This volume, the result of his careful fieldwork in Puerto Rico in 1902-04, is magnificently illustrated by 93 plates and 43 line drawings of specimens from both public and private collections of the islands.

A 1907 article in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland described the volume as “a most valuable contribution to ethnographical science.”


 
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front cover of American Empire and the Politics of Meaning
American Empire and the Politics of Meaning
Elite Political Cultures in the Philippines and Puerto Rico during U.S. Colonialism
Julian Go
Duke University Press, 2007
When the United States took control of the Philippines and Puerto Rico in the wake of the Spanish-American War, it declared that it would transform its new colonies through lessons in self-government and the ways of American-style democracy. In both territories, U.S. colonial officials built extensive public school systems, and they set up American-style elections and governmental institutions. The officials aimed their lessons in democratic government at the political elite: the relatively small class of the wealthy, educated, and politically powerful within each colony. While they retained ultimate control for themselves, the Americans let the elite vote, hold local office, and formulate legislation in national assemblies.

American Empire and the Politics of Meaning is an examination of how these efforts to provide the elite of Puerto Rico and the Philippines a practical education in self-government played out on the ground in the early years of American colonial rule, from 1898 until 1912. It is the first systematic comparative analysis of these early exercises in American imperial power. The sociologist Julian Go unravels how American authorities used “culture” as both a tool and a target of rule, and how the Puerto Rican and Philippine elite received, creatively engaged, and sometimes silently subverted the Americans’ ostensibly benign intentions. Rather than finding that the attempt to transplant American-style democracy led to incommensurable “culture clashes,” Go assesses complex processes of cultural accommodation and transformation. By combining rich historical detail with broader theories of meaning, culture, and colonialism, he provides an innovative study of the hidden intersections of political power and cultural meaning-making in America’s earliest overseas empire.

[more]

front cover of Ancient Borinquen
Ancient Borinquen
Archaeology and Ethnohistory of Native Puerto Rico
Edited by Peter E. Siegel
University of Alabama Press, 2008
A comprehensive overview of recent thinking, new data, syntheses, and insights into current Puerto Rican archaeology
 
Ancient Borinquen is a re-examination of the archaeology of Puerto Rico, drawing data from beyond the boundaries of the island itself because in prehistoric times the waters between islands would not have been viewed as a boundary in the contemporary sense of the term. The last few decades have witnessed a growth of intense archaeological research on the island, from material culture in the form of lithics, ceramics, and rock art; to nutritional, architecture, and environmental studies; to rituals and social patterns; to the aftermath of Conquest.

It is unlikely that prehistoric occupants recognized the same boundaries and responded to the same political forces that operated in the formation of current nations, states, or cities. Yet, archaeologists traditionally have produced such volumes and they generally represent anchors for ongoing research in a specific region, in this case the island of Puerto Rico, its immediate neighbors, and the wider Caribbean basin.
 
Ancient Borinquen provides a comprehensive overview of recent thinking, new data, syntheses, and insights into current Puerto Rican archaeology, and it reflects and illuminates similar concerns elsewhere in the West Indies, lowland South America, and Central America.
 
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front cover of The Archaeology of Tibes
The Archaeology of Tibes
Life, Death, and Memory at an Early Ceremonial Center in the Caribbean
Edited by L. Antonio Curet and Lisa M. Stringer
University of Alabama Press, 2025
A collection of new essays that brings archaeological insights and discoveries at the Tibes Ceremonial Center up to date
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front cover of Beyond Disaster
Beyond Disaster
Building Collective Futures in Puerto Rico
Melissa L. Rosario
Northwestern University Press, 2025

An alternative view of Puerto Rico’s past, present, and future

How do we map the pathways to liberation where we have been taught to see only trauma, suffering, and lack? Melissa L. Rosario offers an alternative view of Puerto Rico, America’s oldest colony, removing readers from the framework of crisis to consider the deeper legacies of its current impasse. Beyond Disaster: Building Collective Futures in Puerto Rico is an intimate portrait, weaving insights from the author’s own life, research, and organizing work as a scholar in the diaspora who rematriated. Rosario bridges the genres of social history and memoir to unsettle the meaning of resistance and freedom, underscoring the deep wounds of colonialism while still uplifting the profound possibilities of embodied alternatives.

Beyond Disaster critiques the framework of debt and crisis by examining the psychological, emotional, and spiritual effects of colonialism. Rosario highlights key examples of organizing efforts to defend land and education against total enclosure, protecting life amid loss. This book offers a series of microhistories, vignettes, and prose poetry to foreground the daily practices necessary to anchor the ecological and political landscapes of our collective future.

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front cover of Black Flag Boricuas
Black Flag Boricuas
Anarchism, Antiauthoritarianism, and th eLeft in Puerto Rico, 1897-1921
Kirwin R. Shaffer
University of Illinois Press, 2013
This pathbreaking study examines the radical Left in Puerto Rico from the final years of Spanish colonial rule into the 1920s. Positioning Puerto Rico within the context of a regional anarchist network that stretched from Puerto Rico and Cuba to Tampa, Florida, and New York City, Kirwin R. Shaffer illustrates how anarchists linked their struggle to the broader international anarchist struggles against religion, governments, and industrial capitalism. Their groups, speeches, and press accounts--as well as the newspapers that they published--were central in helping to develop an anarchist vision for Puerto Ricans at a time when the island was a political no-man's-land, neither an official U.S. colony or state nor an independent country.
 
Exploring the rise of artisan and worker-based centers to develop class consciousness, Shaffer follows the island's anarchists as they cautiously joined the AFL-linked Federación Libre de Trabajadores, the largest labor organization in Puerto Rico. Critiquing the union from within, anarchists worked with reformers while continuing to pursue a more radical agenda achieved by direct action rather than parliamentary politics. Shaffer also traces anarchists' alliances with freethinkers seeking to reform education, progressive factions engaged in attacking the Church and organized religion, and the emerging Socialist movement on the island in the 1910s.
 
The most successful anarchist organization to emerge in Puerto Rico, the Bayamón bloc founded El Comunista, the longest-running, most financially successful anarchist newspaper in the island's history. Stridently attacking U.S. militarism and interventionism in the Caribbean Basin, the newspaper found growing distribution throughout and financial backing from Spanish-speaking anarchist groups in the United States. Shaffer demonstrates how the U.S. government targeted the Bayamón anarchists during the Red Scare and forced the closure of their newspaper in 1921, effectively unraveling the anarchist movement on the island.

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front cover of Carceral Citizens
Carceral Citizens
Labor and Confinement in Puerto Rico
Caroline M. Parker
University of Chicago Press, 2024
A nuanced take on how carceral expansions are changing labor and social life.
 
In Carceral Citizens, anthropologist Caroline M. Parker offers an ethnographic portrait of therapeutic communities in Puerto Rico, the oldest colony in the Americas. Non-profit entities nested within the carceral state, therapeutic communities serve as reeducation and recovery centers for mostly male drug offenders who serve out their sentences engaged in manual labor and prayer. The most surprising aspect of these centers, however, is that their “graduates” often stay there long after the completion of their terms, working as self-appointed counselors in a mixture of volunteer and low-wage positions.
 
Parker seeks to explain this fact by showing how, in these therapeutic communities, criminalized men find ways of carving out a meaningful existence. Through their participation in the day-to-day functioning of the centers, they discover and cultivate alternative forms of belonging, livelihood, and citizenship, despite living within the restrictions of the carceral state. Situating her study against the backdrop of Puerto Rico’s colonial history, and with findings that extend across Latin America, Parker aims to challenge common assumptions about confinement, labor, and rehabilitation. By delving into lives shaped by the convergence of empire, the carceral state, and self-help, she offers a fresh understanding of the transformations of labor and social life brought about by mass incarceration.
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front cover of Caribbean Paleodemography
Caribbean Paleodemography
Population, Culture History, and Sociopolitical Processes in Ancient Puerto Rico
L. Antonio Curet
University of Alabama Press, 2005

A high significant discussion of Caribbean archaeology and a fascinating introduction to paleodemography

According to the European chronicles, at the time of contact, the Greater Antilles were inhabited by the Taino or Arawak Indians, who were organized in hierarchical societies. Since its inception Caribbean archaeology has used population as an important variable in explaining many social, political, and economic processes such as migration, changes in subsistence systems, and the development of institutionalized social stratification.

In Caribbean Paleodemography, L. Antonio Curet argues that population has been used casually by Caribbean archaeologists and proposes more rigorous and promising ways in which demographic factors can be incorporated in our modeling of past human behavior. He analyzes a number of demographic issues in island archaeology at various levels of analysis, including inter- and intra-island migration, carrying capacity, population structures, variables in prehistory, cultural changes, and the relationship with material culture and social development. With this work, Curet brings together the diverse theories on Greater Antilles island populations and the social and political forces governing their growth and migration.

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front cover of Casa Pueblo
Casa Pueblo
A Puerto Rican Model of Self-Governance
Alexis Massol González, Translated by Ashwin Ravikumar and Paul Schroeder Rodríguez
Lever Press, 2022
As a community-based organization in the mountains of south-central Puerto Rico, Casa Pueblo implements alternatives to extractive capitalism that do not rely on governments or distant non-profits. In this book, Alexis Massol-González, Casa Pueblo’s founder, reflects on its extraordinary forty-year history of experiments with community self-governance. Massol-González received the prestigious Goldman Prize (popularly known as the Green Nobel) for the organization’s initiatives to protect the environment, affirm cultural and human values, and create sustainable economic alternatives. This collective translation was undertaken in the spirit of the organization and offers a chronological account of Casa Pueblo’s evolution from a small group of concerned citizens to an internationally recognized model for activism.
[more]

front cover of Colonial Debts
Colonial Debts
The Case of Puerto Rico
Rocío Zambrana
Duke University Press, 2021
With the largest municipal debt in US history and a major hurricane that destroyed much of the archipelago's infrastructure, Puerto Rico has emerged as a key site for the exploration of neoliberalism and disaster capitalism. In Colonial Debts Rocío Zambrana develops the concept of neoliberal coloniality in light of Puerto Rico's debt crisis. Drawing on decolonial thought and praxis, Zambrana shows how debt functions as an apparatus of predation that transforms how neoliberalism operates. Debt functions as a form of coloniality, intensifying race, gender, and class hierarchies in ways that strengthen the colonial relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States. Zambrana also examines the transformation of protest in Puerto Rico. From La Colectiva Feminista en Construcción's actions, long-standing land rescue/occupation in the territory, to the July 2019 protests that ousted former governor Ricardo “Ricky” Rosselló, protests pursue variations of decolonial praxis that subvert the positions of power that debt installs. As Zambrana demonstrates, debt reinstalls the colonial condition and adapts the racial/gender order essential to it, thereby emerging as a key site for political-economic subversion and social rearticulation.
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front cover of Concrete and Countryside
Concrete and Countryside
The Urban and the Rural in 1950s Puerto Rican Culture
Carmelo Esterrich
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018
From the late 1940s to the early 1960s, Puerto Rico was swept by a wave of modernization, transforming the island from a predominantly rural society to an unquestionably urban one. A curious paradox ensued, however. While the island underwent rapid urbanization, and the rhetoric of economic development reigned over official discourses, the newly installed insular government, along with some academic circles and radio and television media, constructed, promoted, and sponsored a narrative of Puerto Rican culture based on rural subjects, practices, and spaces.

By examining a wide range of cultural texts, but focusing on the film production of the Division of Community Education, the popular dance music of Cortijo y su combo, and the literary texts of Jose Luis Gonzalez and Rene Marques, Concrete and Countryside offers an in-depth analysis of how Puerto Ricans responded to this transformative period. It also shows how the arts used a battery of images of the urban and the rural to understand, negotiate, and critique the innumerable changes taking place on the island.
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front cover of A Contested Caribbean Indigeneity
A Contested Caribbean Indigeneity
Language, Social Practice, and Identity within Puerto Rican Taíno Activism
Sherina Feliciano-Santos
Rutgers University Press, 2021
A Contested Caribbean Indigeneity is an in-depth analysis of the debates surrounding Taíno/Boricua activism in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean diaspora in New York City. Drawing on in-depth ethnographic research, media analysis, and historical documents, the book explores the varied experiences and motivations of Taíno/Boricua activists as well as the alternative fonts of authority they draw on to claim what is commonly thought to be an extinct ethnic category. It explores the historical and interactional challenges involved in claiming membership in, what for many Puerto Ricans, is an impossible affiliation. In focusing on Taíno/Boricua activism, the books aims to identify a critical space from which to analyze and decolonize ethnoracial ideologies of Puerto Ricanness, issues of class and education, Puerto Rican nationalisms and colonialisms, as well as important questions regarding narrative, historical memory, and belonging.
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front cover of Cortijo's Wake / El entierro de Cortijo
Cortijo's Wake / El entierro de Cortijo
Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá
Duke University Press, 2004
A bilingual edition of a renowned work of Puerto Rican literature, Cortijo’s Wake/El entierro de Cortijo is novelist Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá’s vivid description of the funeral of legendary Puerto Rican musician Rafael Cortijo. El entierro de Cortijo became an immediate bestseller following its original publication in Puerto Rico in 1983. An unparalleled Afro-Puerto Rican percussionist and bandleader, Cortijo (1928–1982) revolutionized the country’s musical culture. His band, Cortijo y Su Combo, captivated Caribbean and Latin American audiences as it emerged in the mid-1950s. Immensely popular across Puerto Rican social classes, the band both “modernized” the traditional vernacular forms of bomba and plena and forcefully reestablished their African and working-class roots. The group’s innovations have been integral to salsa since the 1960s.

Winding through the streets of working-class San Juan with Cortijo’s funeral procession, Rodríguez Juliá’s autobiographical chronicle provides a rare portrait of the impoverished society from which Cortijo’s music emerged. Along with detailed renderings of grief-stricken mourners—including Cortijo’s childhood friend and fellow musician, the celebrated singer Ismael ("Maelo") Rivera—Rodríguez Juliá records his feelings as he, a light-skinned, middle-class writer, confronts the world of poor black Puerto Ricans. The author’s masterful shifting of linguistic registers, his acute sensitivity to Puerto Rican social codes, his broad knowledge of popular music, and his sardonic ruminations on death and immortality make this one of the most widely read books of modern Puerto Rican literature. Well-known critic and cultural historian Juan Flores has provided a scrupulous translation of Rodríguez Juliá’s text and an introduction situating the book in relation to Puerto Rican music and culture and the careers of Cortijo and Rodríguez Juliá.

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front cover of Does Business Learn?
Does Business Learn?
Tax Breaks, Uncertainty, and Political Strategies
Sandra L. Suarez
University of Michigan Press, 2000
Firms in the United States have many political advantages when compared to other groups in society. They are the best-represented group in our nation's capital; they operate more Political Action Committees; and their lobbyists are among the most experienced political operatives. Yet firms are uncertain about their political power and hence about the effectiveness of their political strategies. This book deals with how firms decide which strategy to pursue among the existing alternatives when it comes to defending policies that play to their interests.
Sandra Suárez looks at the efforts of business to influence government policy in a detailed study of the efforts of major American corporations to protect the tax credit applicable to profits from investments in Puerto Rico. This rare longitudinal case-study explores the abilities of U.S. pharmaceutical and electronics companies to adapt their political strategies to a fluid and uncertain political environment. Drawing on interviews with tax lawyers, corporate lobbyists and government officials, the author follows the behavior of the same group of companies over the past twenty years.
This book advances a learning-based explanation of business political behavior, which argues that past political experience accounts for patterns of political behavior that government structures and salient issues alone cannot explain. Centered on attempts to protect an important tax break for business, the possessions tax battles provide an appropriate case for examining the value of the business learning approach.
Although written with a political science audience in mind, this book addresses issues that will resonate widely with sociologists, management researchers and students alike.
Sandra L. Suárez is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, Temple University.
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front cover of Dream Nation
Dream Nation
Puerto Rican Culture and the Fictions of Independence
Acosta Cruz, María
Rutgers University Press, 2014
Over the past fifty years, Puerto Rican voters have roundly rejected any calls for national independence. Yet the rhetoric and iconography of independence have been defining features of Puerto Rican literature and culture. In the provocative new book Dream Nation, María Acosta Cruz investigates the roots and effects of this profound disconnect between cultural fantasy and political reality.

Bringing together texts from Puerto Rican literature, history, and popular culture, Dream Nation shows how imaginings of national independence have served many competing purposes. They have given authority to the island’s literary and artistic establishment but have also been a badge of countercultural cool. These ideas have been fueled both by nostalgia for an imagined past and by yearning for a better future. They have fostered local communities on the island, and still helped define Puerto Rican identity within U.S. Latino culture.

In clear, accessible prose, Acosta Cruz takes us on a journey from the 1898 annexation of Puerto Rico to the elections of 2012, stopping at many cultural touchstones along the way, from the canonical literature of the Generación del 30 to the rap music of Tego Calderón. Dream Nation thus serves both as a testament to how stories, symbols, and heroes of independence have inspired the Puerto Rican imagination and as an urgent warning about how this culture has become detached from the everyday concerns of the island’s people.

A volume in the American Literature Initiatives series
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front cover of Early Puerto Rican Cinema and Nation Building
Early Puerto Rican Cinema and Nation Building
National Sentiments, Transnational Realities, 1897-1940
Naida García-Crespo
Bucknell University Press, 2019
Early Puerto Rican Cinema and Nation Building focuses on the processes of Puerto Rican national identity formation as seen through the historical development of cinema on the island between 1897 and 1940. Anchoring her work in archival sources in film technology, economy, and education, Naida García-Crespo argues that Puerto Rico’s position as a stateless nation allows for a fresh understanding of national cinema based on perceptions of productive cultural contributions rather than on citizenship or state structures. This book aims to contribute to recently expanding discussions of cultural networks by analyzing how Puerto Rican cinema navigates the problems arising from the connection and/or disjunction between nation and state. The author argues that Puerto Rico’s position as a stateless nation puts pressure on traditional conceptions of national cinema, which tend to rely on assumptions of state support or a bounded nation-state. She also contends that the cultural and business practices associated with early cinema reveal that transnationalism is an integral part of national identities and their development. García-Crespo shows throughout this book that the development and circulation of cinema in Puerto Rico illustrate how the “national” is built from transnational connections.  

Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
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front cover of El Lector
El Lector
A History of the Cigar Factory Reader
By Araceli Tinajero
University of Texas Press, 2009

The practice of reading aloud has a long history, and the tradition still survives in Cuba as a hard-won right deeply embedded in cigar factory workers' culture. In El Lector, Araceli Tinajero deftly traces the evolution of the reader from nineteenth-century Cuba to the present and its eventual dissemination to Tampa, Key West, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. In interviews with present-day and retired readers, she records testimonies that otherwise would have been lost forever, creating a valuable archive for future historians.

Through a close examination of journals, newspapers, and personal interviews, Tinajero relates how the reading was organized, how the readers and readings were selected, and how the process affected the relationship between workers and factory owners. Because of the reader, cigar factory workers were far more cultured and in touch with the political currents of the day than other workers. But it was not only the reading material, which provided political and literary information that yielded self-education, that influenced the workers; the act of being read to increased the discipline and timing of the artisan's job.

[more]

front cover of Empire And Antislavery
Empire And Antislavery
Spain Cuba And Puerto Rico 1833-1874
Christopher Schmidt-Nowara
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999
In 1872, there were more than 300,000 slaves in Cuba and Puerto Rico. Though the Spanish government had passed a law for gradual abolition in 1870, slaveowners, particularly in Cuba, clung tenaciously to their slaves as unfree labor was at the core of the colonial economies. Nonetheless, people throughout the Spanish empire fought to abolish slavery, including the Antillean and Spanish liberals and republicans who founded the Spanish Abolitionist Society in 1865. This book is an extensive study of the origins of the Abolitionist Society and its role in the destruction of Cuban and Puerto Rican slavery and the reshaping of colonial politics.
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front cover of Fishers At Work, Workers At Sea
Fishers At Work, Workers At Sea
Puerto Rican Journey Thru Labor & Refuge
David Griffith and Manuel Valdés Pizzini
Temple University Press, 2002
Small-scale fishing, a house-hold based enterprise in Puerto Rico, rarely provides sufficient income for a family, but it anchors their culture and sense of themselves within that culture. Even when family members must engage in wage work to supplement house-hold income, they think of themselves as fishers. Liche typifies these wage workers: "When he was quite young, he left the island to struggle in other lands, to work, to raise a family, to send home the money he earned. Ten, twenty, thirty years passed...during which he did not once fish or even see the ocean. But in a boat-building factory in New Jersey, in a bakery in the Bronx, on the production line of a chemical factory, on dozens of construction sites, every single day he made a mental review of the waters, the isles and cays ...and entertained no thought that was not related to his return."

Fishers at Work, Workers at Sea describes Puerto Rican fishing families as they negotiate homeland and diaspora. It considers how wage work affects their livelihoods and identities at home and how these independent producers move in and out of global commodity markets. Drawing on some 100 life histories and years of fieldwork, David Griffith and Manuel Valdés Pizzini have developed a complex, often moving portrait of the men and women who fiercely struggle to hang onto the coastal landscapes and cultural heritage tied to the Caribbean Sea.
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front cover of Folk Stories from the Hills of Puerto Rico / Cuentos folklóricos de las montañas de Puerto Rico
Folk Stories from the Hills of Puerto Rico / Cuentos folklóricos de las montañas de Puerto Rico
Rafael Ocasio
Rutgers University Press, 2021
This exciting new anthology gathers together Puerto Rican folktales that were passed down orally for generations before finally being transcribed beginning in 1914 by the team of famous anthropologist Franz Boas. These charming tales give readers a window into the imaginations and aspirations of Puerto Rico’s peasants, the Jíbaro.
 
Some stories provide a distinctive Caribbean twist on classic tales including “Snow White” and “Cinderella.” Others fictionalize the lives of local historical figures, such as infamous pirate Roberto Cofresí, rendered here as a Robin Hood figure who subverts the colonial social order. The collection also introduces such beloved local characters as Cucarachita Martina, the kind cockroach who falls in love with Ratoncito Pérez, her devoted mouse husband who brings her delicious food. 
 
Including a fresh English translation of each folktale as well as the original Spanish version, the collection also contains an introduction from literary historian Rafael Ocasio that highlights the historical importance of these tales and the Jíbaro cultural values they impart. These vibrant, funny, and poignant stories will give readers unique insights into Puerto Rico’s rich cultural heritage.
 

Esta nueva y emocionante antología reúne cuentos populares puertorriqueños que fueron transmitidos oralmente durante generaciones antes de ser finalmente transcritos comenzando en 1914 por el equipo del famoso antropólogo Franz Boas. Estos encantadores cuentos ofrecen a los lectores un vistazo a la imaginación y las aspiraciones de los jíbaros, los campesinos de Puerto Rico.
 
Algunas historias brindan un distintivo toque caribeño a cuentos clásicos como "Blanca Nieves" y "Cenicienta". Otros ficcionalizan la vida de personajes históricos locales, como el famoso pirata Roberto Cofresí, representado como una figura al estilo de Robin Hood, quien subvierte el orden social colonial. La colección también presenta personajes locales tan queridos como Cucarachita Martina, la amable cucaracha que se enamora de Ratoncito Pérez, su devoto esposo ratón que le trae deliciosa comida. 
 
Incluyendo una nueva traducción al inglés de estos cuentos populares, así como las versiones originales en español, la colección también contiene una introducción del historiador literario Rafael Ocasio, quien destaca la importancia histórica de estos cuentos y los valores culturales del jíbaro que éstos imparten en los relatos. Estas historias vibrantes, divertidas y conmovedoras brindarán a los lectores una visión única de la rica herencia cultural de Puerto Rico.

Introducción en español (https://d3tto5i5w9ogdd.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/03154419/Ocasio_Cuentos_Intro_Espan%CC%83ol.pdf)

Rafael Ocasio will discussing his book, 'Folk Stories from the Hills of Puerto Rico / Cuentos folklóricos de las montañas de Puerto Rico' at Biblioteca Juvenil de Mayagüez in Puerto Rico (https://youtu.be/o6Tub094EoI)
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front cover of The Food Web of a Tropical Rain Forest
The Food Web of a Tropical Rain Forest
Edited by Douglas P. Reagan and Robert B. Waide
University of Chicago Press, 1996
Destruction of tropical rain forests has increased exponentially in recent years, as have efforts to conserve them. However, information essential to these conservation programs—an understanding of the population dynamics of the community at risk—is often unavailable to the scientists and resource managers who need it most.

This volume helps fill the gap by presenting a comprehensive description and analysis of the animal community of the tropical rain forest at El Verde, Puerto Rico. Building on more than a decade of field research, the contributors weave the complex strands of information about the energy flow within the forest—who eats whom—into a powerful tool for understanding community dynamics known as a food web. This systematic approach to organizing the natural histories of the many species at El Verde also reveals basic patterns and processes common to all rain forests, making this book a valuable contribution for anyone concerned with studying and protecting these fragile ecosystems.

[more]

front cover of Foreign in a Domestic Sense
Foreign in a Domestic Sense
Puerto Rico, American Expansion, and the Constitution
Christina Duffy Burnett and Burke Marshall, eds.
Duke University Press, 2001
In this groundbreaking study of American imperialism, leading legal scholars address the problem of the U.S. territories. Foreign in a Domestic Sense will redefine the boundaries of constitutional scholarship.
More than four million U.S. citizens currently live in five “unincorporated” U.S. territories. The inhabitants of these vestiges of an American empire are denied full representation in Congress and cannot vote in presidential elections. Focusing on Puerto Rico, the largest and most populous of the territories, Foreign in a Domestic Sense sheds much-needed light on the United States’ unfinished colonial experiment and its legacy of racially rooted imperialism, while insisting on the centrality of these “marginal” regions in any serious treatment of American constitutional history. For one hundred years, Puerto Ricans have struggled to define their place in a nation that neither wants them nor wants to let them go. They are caught in a debate too politicized to yield meaningful answers. Meanwhile, doubts concerning the constitutionality of keeping colonies have languished on the margins of mainstream scholarship, overlooked by scholars outside the island and ignored by the nation at large.
This book does more than simply fill a glaring omission in the study of race, cultural identity, and the Constitution; it also makes a crucial contribution to the study of American federalism, serves as a foundation for substantive debate on Puerto Rico’s status, and meets an urgent need for dialogue on territorial status between the mainlandd and the territories.

Contributors. José Julián Álvarez González, Roberto Aponte Toro, Christina Duffy Burnett, José A. Cabranes, Sanford Levinson, Burke Marshall, Gerald L. Neuman, Angel R. Oquendo, Juan Perea, Efrén Rivera Ramos, Rogers M. Smith, E. Robert Statham Jr., Brook Thomas, Richard Thornburgh, Juan R. Torruella, José Trías Monge, Mark Tushnet, Mark Weiner

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front cover of From Puerto Rico To Philadelphia
From Puerto Rico To Philadelphia
Puerto Rican Workers and Postwar Economies
Carmen Whalen
Temple University Press, 2001
"We were poor but we had everything we needed," reminisces Dona Epifania. Nonetheless, when a man she knew told her about a job in Philadelphia, she grasped the opportunity to leave Coamas. "He went to Puerto Rico and told me there were beans to cook. I came here and cooked for fourteen workers." In San Lorenzo, Dona Carmen and her husband made the same decision: "We didn't want to, nobody wanted to leave....There wasn't any alternative." Don Florencio recalls that in Salinas work had gotten scarce, "especially for the youth, the young men....The farmworker that was used to cutting cane, already the sugar cane was disappearing," and government licensing regulations made fishing "more difficult for the poor."

Puerto Rican migration to the mainland following World War II took place for a range of reasons -- globalization of the economy, the colonial relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico, state policies, changes in regional and  local economies, social networks, and, not least, the decisions made by individual immigrants. In this wide-ranging book, Carmen Whalen weaves them all into a tapestry of Puerto Rican immigration to Philadelphia.

Like African Americans and Mexicans, Puerto Ricans were recruited for low-wage jobs, only to confront racial discrimination as well as economic restructuring. As Whalen shows, they were part of that wave of newcomers who came from areas in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Asia characterized by  a heavy U.S. military and economic presence, especially export processing zones looking for a new life in depressed urban environments already populated by earlier labor migrants. But Puerto Rican in-migration was also unique, especially in its regional and gender dimensions. Many migrants came as part of contract labor programs shaped by competing agendas.

By the 1990s, economic conditions, government policies, and racial ideologies had transformed Puerto Rican labor migrants into what has been called "the other underclass." The author analyzes this continuation of "culture and poverty" interpretations and contrasts it with the efforts of Philadelphia's Puerto Ricans to recreate their communities and deal with the impact of  economic restructuring and residential segregation in the City of Brotherly Love.
[more]

front cover of The Great Woman Singer
The Great Woman Singer
Gender and Voice in Puerto Rican Music
Licia Fiol-Matta
Duke University Press, 2017
Licia Fiol-Matta traces the careers of four iconic Puerto Rican singers—Myrta Silva, Ruth Fernández, Ernestina Reyes, and Lucecita Benítez—to explore how their voices and performance style transform the possibilities for comprehending the figure of the woman singer. Fiol-Matta shows how these musicians, despite seemingly intractable demands to represent gender norms, exercised their artistic and political agency by challenging expectations of how they should look, sound, and act. Fiol-Matta also breaks with conceptualizations of the female pop voice as spontaneous and intuitive, interrogating the notion of "the great woman singer" to deploy her concept of the "thinking voice"—an event of music, voice, and listening that rewrites dominant narratives. Anchored in the work of Lacan, Foucault, and others, Fiol-Matta's theorization of voice and gender in The Great Woman Singer makes accessible the singing voice's conceptual dimensions while revealing a dynamic archive of Puerto Rican and Latin American popular music.
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Healing Dramas
Divination and Magic in Modern Puerto Rico
By Raquel Romberg
University of Texas Press, 2009

In this intimate ethnography, Raquel Romberg seeks to illuminate the performative significance of healing rituals and magic works, their embodied nature, and their effectiveness in transforming the states of participants by focusing on the visible, albeit mostly obscure, ways in which healing and magic rituals proceed. The questions posed by Romberg emerge directly from the particular pragmatics of Puerto Rican brujería (witch-healing), shaped by the eclecticism of its rituals, the heterogeneous character of its participants, and the heterodoxy of its moral economy.

What, if any, is the role of belief in magic and healing rituals? How do past discourses on possession enter into the performative experience of ritual in the here and now? Where does belief stop, and where do memories of the flesh begin? While these are questions that philosophers and anthropologists of religion ponder, they acquire a different meaning when asked from an ethnographic perspective.

Written in an evocative, empathetic style, with theoretical ruminations about performance, the senses, and imagination woven into stories that highlight the drama and humanity of consultations, this book is an important contribution to the cross-cultural understanding of our capacity to experience the transcendental in corporeal ways.

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Imposing Decency
The Politics of Sexuality and Race in Puerto Rico, 1870–1920
Eileen J. Suárez Findlay
Duke University Press, 2000
Feminists, socialists, Afro-Puerto Rican activists, and elite politicians join laundresses, prostitutes, and dissatisfied wives in populating the pages of Imposing Decency. Through her analyses of Puerto Rican anti-prostitution campaigns, attempts at reforming marriage, and working-class ideas about free love, Eileen J. Suárez Findlay exposes the race-related double standards of sexual norms and practices in Puerto Rico between 1870 and 1920, the period that witnessed Puerto Rico’s shift from Spanish to U.S. colonialism.
In showing how political projects and alliances in Puerto Rico were affected by racially contingent definitions of “decency” and “disreputability,” Findlay argues that attempts at moral reform and the state’s repression of “sexually dangerous” women were weapons used in batttles between elite and popular, American and Puerto Rican, and black and white. Based on a thorough analysis of popular and elite discourses found in both literature and official archives, Findlay contends that racialized sexual norms and practices were consistently a central component in the construction of social and political orders. The campaigns she analyzes include an attempt at moral reform by elite male liberals and a movement designed to enhance the family and cleanse urban space that ultimately translated into repression against symbollically darkened prostitutes. Findlay also explores how U.S. officials strove to construct a new colonial order by legalizing divorce and how feminist, labor, and Afro-Puerto Rican political demands escalated after World War I, often focusing on the rehabilitation and defense of prostitutes.
Imposing Decency forces us to rethink previous interpretations of political chronologies as well as reigning conceptualizations of both liberalism and the early working-class in Puerto Rico. Her work will appeal to scholars with an interest in Puerto Rican or Latin American studies, sexuality and national identity, women in Latin America, and general women’s studies.
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Inhabiting the Impossible
Dance and Experimentation in Puerto Rico
Susan Homar and nibia pastrana santiago, Editors
University of Michigan Press, 2023
This first-of-its-kind book brings together writing by artists and scholars to survey the lively field of Puerto Rican experimental dance across four decades. Originally published as Habitar lo Imposible, the translation in English features essays, artist statements, and interviews plus more than 100 photos of productions, programs, posters, and scores. Throughout, Inhabiting the Impossible provides fresh, invaluable perspectives on experimentation in dance as a sustained practice that has from the start deeply engaged issues of race, gender, sexuality, and politics. The book is also enhanced by a bibliographic section with detailed resources for further study.
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Island Paradox
Puerto Rico in the 1990s
Francisco Rivera-Batiz
Russell Sage Foundation, 1996
"One of the year's best books on Puerto Rico."—El Nuevo Dia, San Juan "[The authors] are highly regarded labor economists who have written extensively and intelligently in the past, and again in this volume, on Puerto Rican migration and labor markets... There isabundant statistical data and careful analysis, some of which challenges the conventional wisdom. Highly recommended." —Choice Island Paradox is the first comprehensive, census-based portrait of social and economic life in Puerto Rico. During its nearly fiftyyears as a U.S. commonwealth, the relationship between Puerto Rico's small, developing economy and the vastly larger, more industrialized United States has triggered profound changes in the island's industry and labor force. Puerto Rico has been deeply affected by the constant flow of its people to and from the mainland, and by the influx of immigrant workers from other nations. Distinguished economists Francisco Rivera-Batiz and Carlos Santiago provide the latest data on the socioeconomic status of Puerto Rico today, and examine current conditions within the context of the major trends of the past two decades. Island Paradox describes many improvements in Puerto Rico's standard of living, including rising per-capita income, longer life expectancies, greater educational attainment, and increased job prospects for women. But it also discusses the devastating surge in unemployment. Rapid urbanization and a vanishing agricultural sector have led to severe inequality, as family income has become increasingly dependent on education and geographic location. Although Puerto Rico's close ties to the United States were the major source of the island's economic growth prior to 1970, they have also been at the root of recent hardships. Puerto Rico's trade andbusiness transactions remain predominantly with the United States, but changes in federal tax, social, and budgetary policies, along with international agreements such as NAFTA, now threaten to alter the economic ties between the island and the mainland. Island Paradox reveals the social and family changes that have occurred among Puerto Ricans on the island and the mainland. The significant decline in the island's population growth is traced in part to women's increased pursuit of educational and employment opportunities before marrying. More children are being raised by singleparents, but this stems from a higher divorce rate and not a rise in teenage pregnancy. The widespread circular migration to and from the United States has had strong repercussions for the island's labor markets and social balance, leading to concerns about an island brain drain. The Puerto Rican population in the United States hasbecome increasingly diverse, less regionally concentrated and not, as some have claimed, in danger of becoming an underclass. Within a single generation Puerto Rico has experienced social and economic shifts of an unprecedented magnitude. Island Paradox charts Puerto Rico's economic fortunes, summarizes the major demographic trends, and identifies the issues that will have the strongest bearings on Puerto Rico's prospects for a successful future. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Census Series
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Kicking Off the Bootstraps
Environment, Development, and Community Power in Puerto Rico
Déborah Berman Santana
University of Arizona Press, 1996
While small communities in Third World countries usually seem at the mercy of central governments and foreign capitalists, local activists can help exploited peoples correct environmental abuses and social injustices and seize control of their own destinies.

Kicking Off the Bootstraps is a powerful case history of such an effort. It describes a grassroots activist movement that emerged in the Puerto Rican community of Salinas to counter the poverty and economic dependence experienced by its citizens in the wake of "Operation Bootstrap," a post-World War II industrial development program. Déborah Berman Santana examines the efforts of the community to develop its own economic strategy based primarily on environmentally and socially responsible uses of local natural and human resources.

Berman Santana shows how local activists are seeking to empower the Salinas community to make decisions concerning economic development. She evaluates present-day efforts to develop positive alternatives, examining the motivations of the activists, the nature of their projects, their efforts to mobilize the community, their dealings with government and other organizations, and the obstacles they face. In a closing chapter, she addresses the potential roles of community leaders, outside activists, local businesses, and government in actualizing these alternatives.

A testimony to one community's efforts to determine its own future, Kicking Off the Bootstraps deals with real issues such as control over productive resources, quality of life, and environmental health. It also extends an examination of community-directed activism to an exploration of policy implications for sustainable development. While this concept is often too vague to be applied to real strategies, the Salinas experience provides a clear idea of what sustainable development can—and should—mean in actual practice.
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The Last Cacique
Leadership and Politics in a Puerto Rican City
Jorge Heine
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1993
This pioneering study of the dynamics of city politics in one of Puerto Rico's largest townships examines the fascinating career to Benjamin Cole. A quasi-legendary figure in island politics, Cole served as mayor of Mayagüez from 1968 to 1992. His spectacular success often ran counter to the broader political trends in Puerto Rico and offers insights in the currents of change that swept the island from the 1960s through the 1990s.

Based on years of intensive research, including unusually candid interviews with members of Puerto Rico's political elite, The Last Cacique offers the first in-depth study of local politics in Puerto Rico and one of the very few available for the Caribbean region.
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Legitimizing Empire
Filipino American and U.S. Puerto Rican Cultural Critique
Faye Caronan
University of Illinois Press, 2015
When the United States acquired the Philippines and Puerto Rico, it reconciled its status as an empire with its anticolonial roots by claiming that it would altruistically establish democratic institutions in its new colonies. Ever since, Filipino and Puerto Rican artists have challenged promises of benevolent assimilation and portray U.S. imperialism as both self-interested and unexceptional among empires.
 
Faye Caronan's examination interprets the pivotal engagement of novels, films, performance poetry, and other cultural productions as both symptoms of and resistance against American military, social, economic, and political incursions. Though the Philippines became an independent nation and Puerto Rico a U.S. commonwealth, both remain subordinate to the United States. Caronan's juxtaposition reveals two different yet simultaneous models of U.S. neocolonial power and contradicts American exceptionalism as a reluctant empire that only accepts colonies for the benefit of the colonized and global welfare. Her analysis, meanwhile, demonstrates how popular culture allows for alternative narratives of U.S. imperialism, but also functions to contain those alternatives.
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The Lettered Barriada
Workers, Archival Power, and the Politics of Knowledge in Puerto Rico
Jorell A. Meléndez-Badillo
Duke University Press, 2021
In The Lettered Barriada, Jorell A. Meléndez-Badillo tells the story of how a cluster of self-educated workers burst into Puerto Rico's world of letters and navigated the colonial polity that emerged out of the 1898 US occupation. They did so by asserting themselves as citizens, producers of their own historical narratives, and learned minds. Disregarded by most of Puerto Rico's intellectual elite, these workers engaged in dialogue with international peers and imagined themselves as part of a global community. They also entered the world of politics through the creation of the Socialist Party, which became an electoral force in the first half of the twentieth century. Meléndez-Badillo shows how these workers produced, negotiated, and deployed powerful discourses that eventually shaped Puerto Rico's national mythology. By following these ragtag intellectuals as they became politicians and statesmen, Meléndez-Badillo also demonstrates how they engaged in racial and gender silencing, epistemic violence, and historical erasures in the fringes of society. Ultimately, The Lettered Barriada is about the politics of knowledge production and the tensions between working-class intellectuals and the state.

Duke University Press Scholars of Color First Book Award recipient
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Living with the Puerto Rico Shore
David M. Bush, Richard M. T. Webb, José González Liboy, Lisbeth Hyman, and William J. Neal
Duke University Press, 1995
In this, the eighteenth title in Duke University Press's Living With the Shore series, the authors present a "user's guide" to the coastal zone of Puerto Rico. Presenting a geological appraisal of the history, dynamics, and hazards of the island's coastline, Living With the Puerto Rico Shore is the first in the series to examine a tropical region and the first to examine an area outside the continental United States.
The book provides detailed descriptions of the entire shoreline, noting the specific coastal hazards of each coastal reach. These hazards include coastal erosion, storm surge flooding, and potential damage from earthquakes. Where high-density development or significant roads and utilities are particularly at risk, these are also noted. The effects that sand mining, seawalls, jetties, and other attempts at coastal engineering have had on the island are examined. Finally, the authors discuss historical and legal aspects of coastal planning in Puerto Rico, presenting guidelines for selecting building sites.
Of interest to all concerned with protecting our shores and beaches and useful to the coastal planner and manager, Living With the Puerto Rico Shore contains an extensive bibliography and a list of agencies involved in coastal issues.
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Matters of Choice
Puerto Rican Women's Struggle for Reproductive Freedom
Lopez, Iris
Rutgers University Press, 2008
Sterilization remains one of the most popular forms of fertility control in the world, but it has received little acknowledgment for decreasing birthrates on account of its dubious use as a means of population control, especially in developing countries.

In Matters of Choice, Iris Lopez presents a comprehensive analysis of the dichotomous views that have portrayed sterilization either as part of a coercive program of population control or as a means of voluntary, even liberating, fertility control by individual women. Drawing upon her twenty-five years of research on sterilized Puerto Rican women from five different families in Brooklyn, Lopez untangles the interplay between how women make fertility decisions and their social, economic, cultural, and historical constraints. Weaving together the voices of these women, she covers the history of sterilization and eugenics, societal pressures to have fewer children, a lack of adequate health care, patterns of gender inequality, and misinformation provided by doctors and family members.

Lopez makes a stirring case for a model of reproductive freedom, taking readers beyond victim/agent debates to consider a broader definition of reproductive rights within a feminist anthropological context.

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Medicine Stories
Essays for Radicals
Aurora Levins Morales
Duke University Press, 2019
In this revised and expanded edition of Medicine Stories, Aurora Levins Morales weaves together insights and lessons learned over a lifetime of activism to offer a new theory of social justice. Calling for a politics of integrity that recognizes the complicated wholeness of individual and collective lives, Levins Morales delves among the interwoven roots of multiple oppressions, exposing connections, crafting strategies, and uncovering the wellsprings of resilience and joy. Throughout these twenty-eight essays—twenty-one of which are new or extensively revised—she exposes the structures and mechanisms that silence voices and divide movements. The result is a medicine bag full of techniques and perspectives to build a universal solidarity that is flexible, nuanced, and strong enough to fundamentally shift our world toward justice. Intimately personal and globally relevant, Medicine Stories brings clarity and hope to tangled, emotionally charged social issues in beautiful and accessible language.
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Military Power and Popular Protest
The U.S. Navy in Vieques, Puerto Rico
McCaffrey, Katherine T
Rutgers University Press, 2002

Residents of Vieques, a small island just off the east coast of Puerto Rico, live wedged between an ammunition depot and live bombing range for the U.S. Navy. Since the 1940s when the navy expropriated over two-thirds of the island, residents have struggled to make a life amid the thundering of bombs and rumbling of weaponry fire. Like the armys base in Okinawa, Japan, the facility has drawn vociferous protests from residents who challenged U.S. security interests overseas. In 1999, when a local civilian employee of the base was killed by a stray bomb, Vieques again erupted in protests that have mobilized tens of thousands individuals and transformed this tiny Caribbean Island into the setting for an international cause célèbre.

Katherine T. McCaffrey gives a complete analysis of the troubled relationship between the U.S. Navy and island residents. She explores such topics as the history of U.S. naval involvement in Vieques; a grassroots mobilizationled by fishermenthat began in the 1970s; how the navy promised to improve the lives of the island residentsand failed; and the present-day emergence of a revitalized political activism that has effectively challenged naval hegemony.

The case of Vieques brings to the fore a major concern within U.S. foreign policy that extends well beyond Puerto Rico: military bases overseas act as lightning rods for anti-American sentiment, thus threatening this countrys image and interests abroad. By analyzing this particular, conflicted relationship, the book also explores important lessons about colonialism and postcolonialism and the relationship of the United States to the countries in which it maintains military bases.

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The Modernization of Puerto Rico
A Political Study of Changing Values and Institutions
Henry Wells
Harvard University Press

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Negotiating Empire
The Cultural Politics of Schools in Puerto Rico, 1898–1952
Solsiree del Moral
University of Wisconsin Press, 2013
After the United States invaded Puerto Rico in 1898, the new unincorporated territory sought to define its future. Seeking to shape the next generation and generate popular support for colonial rule, U.S. officials looked to education as a key venue for promoting the benefits of Americanization. At the same time, public schools became a site where Puerto Rican teachers, parents, and students could formulate and advance their own projects for building citizenship. In Negotiating Empire, Solsiree del Moral demonstrates how these colonial intermediaries aimed for regeneration and progress through education.
    Rather than seeing U.S. empire in Puerto Rico during this period as a contest between two sharply polarized groups, del Moral views their interaction as a process of negotiation. Although educators and families rejected some tenets of Americanization, such as English-language instruction, they also redefined and appropriated others to their benefit to increase literacy and skills required for better occupations and social mobility. Pushing their citizenship-building vision through the schools, Puerto Ricans negotiated a different school project—one that was reformist yet radical, modern yet traditional, colonial yet nationalist.
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Not of Pure Blood
The Free People of Color and Racial Prejudice in Nineteenth-Century Puerto Rico
Jay Kinsbruner
Duke University Press, 1996
Countering the popular misconception that racial discrimination has largely not existed in Puerto Rico, Jay Kinsbruner’s Not of Pure Blood shows that racial prejudice has long had an insidious effect on Puerto Rican society. Kinsbruner’s study focuses on the free people of color—those of African descent who were considered nonwhite but were legally free during slavery—in order to explore the nature of racial prejudice in nineteenth-century Puerto Rico. In considering the consequences of these nineteenth-century attitudes on twentieth-century Puerto Rico, Kinsbruner suggests that racial discrimination continues to limit opportunities for people of color.
Following a discussion of Puerto Rican racial prejudice in historical perspective, Kinsbruner describes residential patterns, marriages, births, deaths, occupations, and family and household matters to demonstrate that free people of color were a disadvantaged community whose political, social, and economic status was diminished by racism. He analyzes the complexities and contradictions of Puerto Rican racial prejudice and discrimination, explains the subtleties of “shade discrimination,” and examines the profoundly negative impact on race relations of the U.S. occupation of the island following the Spanish American War.
Looking behind the myth of Puerto Rican racial equity, Not of Pure Blood will be of interest to specialists in Caribbean studies, Puerto Rican history, and Latin America studies, and to scholars in a variety of fields investigating questions of racism and discrimination.
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Organized Agriculture and the Labor Movement before the UFW
Puerto Rico, Hawai’i, California
By Dionicio Nodín Valdés
University of Texas Press, 2011

Puerto Rico, Hawai'i, and California share the experiences of conquest and annexation to the United States in the nineteenth century and mass organizational struggles by rural workers in the twentieth. Organized Agriculture and the Labor Movement before the UFW offers a comparative examination of those struggles, which were the era's longest and most protracted campaigns by agricultural workers, supported by organized labor, to establish a collective presence and realize the fruits of democracy.

Dionicio Nodín Valdés examines critical links between the earlier conquests and the later organizing campaigns while he corrects a number of popular misconceptions about agriculture, farmworkers, and organized labor. He shows that agricultural workers have engaged in continuous efforts to gain a place in the institutional life of the nation, that unions succeeded before the United Farm Workers and César Chávez, and that the labor movement played a major role in those efforts. He also offers a window into understanding crucial limitations of institutional democracy in the United States, and demonstrates that the widespread lack of participation in the nation's institutions by agricultural workers has not been due to a lack of volition, but rather to employers' continuous efforts to prevent worker empowerment.

Organized Agriculture and the Labor Movement before the UFW demonstrates how employers benefitted not only from power and wealth, but also from imperialism in both its domestic and international manifestations. It also demonstrates how workers at times successfully overcame growers' advantages, although they were ultimately unable to sustain movements and gain a permanent institutional presence in Puerto Rico and California.

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Parenting Empires
Class, Whiteness, and the Moral Economy of Privilege in Latin America
Ana Yolanda Ramos-Zayas
Duke University Press, 2020
In Parenting Empires, Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas focuses on the parenting practices of Latin American urban elites to analyze how everyday experiences of whiteness, privilege, and inequality reinforce national and hemispheric idioms of anti-corruption and austerity. Ramos-Zayas shows that for upper-class residents in the affluent neighborhoods of Ipanema (Rio de Janeiro) and El Condado (San Juan), parenting is particularly effective in providing moral grounding for neoliberal projects that disadvantage the overwhelmingly poor and racialized people who care for and teach their children. Wealthy parents in Ipanema and El Condado cultivate a liberal cosmopolitanism by living in multicultural city neighborhoods rather than gated suburban communities. Yet as Ramos-Zayas reveals, their parenting strategies, which stress spirituality, empathy, and equality, allow them to preserve and reproduce their white privilege. Defining this moral economy as “parenting empires,” she sheds light on how child-rearing practices permit urban elites in the Global South to sustain and profit from entrenched social and racial hierarchies.
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The Politics of Puerto Rican University Students
By Arthur Liebman
University of Texas Press, 1970

In the 1960s, when students everywhere were coming alive politically, and when the Latin American student activist in particular became as archetypal of radicalism as the Latin American dictator was of repression, Puerto Rican students remained strangely silent. With the exception of FUPI, a radical student group with only a small following, student political behavior conformed to that of Puerto Rican society in general—center to conservative.

Historically, Puerto Rico has been economically and politically dominated first by Spain and then by the United States. But unlike other colonial dependencies in Latin America, Puerto Rico has never rebelled. Puerto Rican politics centers on the status issue—independence, statehood, or association for the island. But no legendary victories, no heroic defeats offer a battle cry for nationalists, leftists, and independistas. Overwhelming foreign influence in the Church, the schools, the economy, and eventually the mass media deprived the island of any strong indigenous institutions that might foster nationalism. Militancy lies outside the mainstream of Puerto Rican tradition.

Against this historical and cultural backdrop, Arthur Liebman closely examines the social background and political activity of students at the Rio Piedras campus of the University of Puerto Rico. Based on personal interviews with students, faculty, and administrators, as well as on a survey of the student body, his study reveals the strength of political inheritance among university students in Puerto Rico. The student left is small and weak largely because the left of the parents’ generation is small and weak. To date, Puerto Rican students have been the children of their parents and of their society.

Within a university that emphasizes practicality, the nonmilitant majority of the students study education, business, engineering, and medicine, being trained to participate in and to reap the rewards of the status quo. Student leftists, in the minority, generally study history, economics, sociology, and law—fields that open wider perspectives on their society and its problems and offer no immediate guarantee of its benefits. Brighter, less religious, and more dissatisfied with their role as a student, the student leftists stand apart from their cohort at the University of Puerto Rico. Like their adult counterparts, they are an anomaly in an acquisitive, relatively conservative society.

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(Post-)colonial Archipelagos
Comparing the Legacies of Spanish Colonialism in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines
Hans-Jürgen Burchardt and Johanna Leinius, Editors
University of Michigan Press, 2022

The Puerto Rican debt crisis, the challenges of social, political, and economic transition in Cuba, and the populist politics of Duterte in the Philippines—these topics are typically seen as disparate experiences of social reality. Though these island territories were colonized by the same two colonial powers—by the Spanish Empire and, after 1898, by the United States—research in the fields of history and the social sciences rarely draws links between these three contexts.

Located at the intersection of Postcolonial Studies, Latin American Studies, Caribbean Studies, and History, this interdisciplinary volume brings together scholars from the US, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Philippines to examine the colonial legacies of the three island nations of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. Instead of focusing on the legacies of US colonialism, the continuing legacies of Spanish colonialism are put center-stage. The analyses offered in the volume yield new and surprising insights into the study of colonial and postcolonial constellations that are of interest not only for experts, but also for readers interested in the social, political, economic, and cultural dynamics of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines during Spanish colonization and in the present. The empirical material profits from a rigorous and systematic analytical framework and is thus easily accessible for students, researchers, and the interested public alike.

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Puerto Rican Jam
Rethinking Colonialism and Nationalism
Negron-Muntaner, Frances
University of Minnesota Press, 1997

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The "Puerto Rican Problem" in Postwar New York City
Edgardo Meléndez
Rutgers University Press, 2023
The "Puerto-Rican Problem" in Postwar New York City presents the first comprehensive examination of the emergence, evolution, and consequences of the “Puerto Rican problem” campaign and narrative in New York City from 1945 to 1960. This notion originated in an intense public campaign that arose in reaction to the entry of Puerto Rican migrants to the city after 1945. The “problem” narrative influenced their incorporation in New York City and other regions of the United States where they settled. The anti-Puerto Rican campaign led to the formulation of public policies by the governments of Puerto Rico and New York City seeking to ease their incorporation in the city. Notions intrinsic to this narrative later entered American academia (like the “culture of poverty”) and American popular culture (e.g., West Side Story), which reproduced many of the stereotypes associated with Puerto Ricans at that time and shaped the way in which Puerto Ricans were studied and perceived by Americans.
 
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Puerto Rican Women and Work
Bridges in Transnational Labor
edited by Altagracia Ortiz
Temple University Press, 1996

Puerto Rican Women and Work: Bridges in Transnational Labor is the only comprehensive study of the role of Puerto Rican women workers in the evolution of a transnational labor force in the twentieth century.

This book examines Puerto Rican women workers, both in Puerto Rico and on the U.S. mainland. It contains a range of information--historical, ethnographic, and statistical. The contributors provide insights into the effects of migration and unionization on women's work, taking into account U.S. colonialism and globalization of capitalism throughout the century as well as the impact of Operation Bootstrap. The essays are arranged in chronological order to reveal the evolutionary nature of women's work and the fluctuations in migration, technology, and the economy. This one-of-a-kind collection will be a valuable resource for those interested in women's studies, ethnic studies, and Puerto Rican and Latino studies, as well as labor studies.

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Puerto Ricans in the Empire
Tobacco Growers and U.S. Colonialism
Teresita A. Levy
Rutgers University Press, 2015
Most studies of Puerto Rico’s relations with the United States have focused on the sugar industry, recounting a tale of victimization and imperial abuse driven by the interests of U.S. sugar companies. But in Puerto Ricans in the Empire, Teresita A. Levy looks at a different agricultural sector, tobacco growing, and tells a story in which Puerto Ricans challenged U.S. officials and fought successfully for legislation that benefited the island.
 
Levy describes how small-scale, politically involved, independent landowners grew most of the tobacco in Puerto Rico. She shows how, to gain access to political power, tobacco farmers joined local agricultural leagues and the leading farmers’ association, the Asociación de Agricultores Puertorriqueños (AAP). Through their affiliation with the AAP, they successfully lobbied U.S. administrators in San Juan and Washington, participated in government-sponsored agricultural programs, solicited agricultural credit from governmental sources, and sought scientific education in a variety of public programs, all to boost their share of the tobacco-leaf market in the United States. By their own efforts, Levy argues, Puerto Ricans demanded and won inclusion in the empire, in terms that were defined not only by the colonial power, but also by the colonized.
 
The relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States was undoubtedly colonial in nature, but, as Puerto Ricans in the Empire shows, it was not unilateral. It was a dynamic, elastic, and ever-changing interaction, where Puerto Ricans actively participated in the economic and political processes of a negotiated empire.
 
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Puerto Rico and the United States, 1917-1933
Truman R. Clark
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1975
From 1917 to 1933, the United States kept Puerto Rico in limbo, offering it neither a course toward independence nor much hope for prompt statehood. The Jones Act of 1917 gave Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship, but the status of the island didn't change. In 1922, a Supreme Court decision reaffirmed the 1901 principle that island possessions had no right to equal treatment with continental territories and states. Clark unfolds with clarity the painful truth of the United States' unsavory attempt at being both a democratic and imperial nation: governors were sent without the consent of the Puerto Ricans and with little training; no positive measures were taken to improve the poor economy; little thought was given and no formal policy established to resolve its status or foster self-government.
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Pushing in Silence
Modernizing Puerto Rico and the Medicalization of Childbirth
By Isabel M. Córdova
University of Texas Press, 2017

As Puerto Rico rapidly industrialized from the late 1940s until the 1970s, the social, political, and economic landscape changed profoundly. In the realm of heath care, the development of medical education, new medical technologies, and a new faith in science radically redefined childbirth and its practice. What had traditionally been a home-based, family-oriented process, assisted by women and midwives and “accomplished” by mothers, became a medicalized, hospital-based procedure, “accomplished” and directed by biomedical, predominantly male, practitioners, and, ultimately reconfigured, after the 1980s, into a technocratic model of childbirth, driven by doctors’ fears of malpractice suits and hospitals’ corporate concerns.

Pushing in Silence charts the medicalization of childbirth in Puerto Rico and demonstrates how biomedicine is culturally constructed within regional and historical contexts. Prior to 1950, registered midwives on the island outnumbered registered doctors by two to one, and they attended well over half of all deliveries. Isabel M. Córdova traces how, over the next quarter-century, midwifery almost completely disappeared as state programs led by scientifically trained experts and organized by bureaucratic institutions restructured and formalized birthing practices. Only after cesarean rates skyrocketed in the 1980s and 1990s did midwifery make a modest return through the practices of five newly trained midwives. This history, which mirrors similar patterns in the United States and elsewhere, adds an important new chapter to the development of medicine and technology in Latin America.

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Race and Nation in Puerto Rican Folklore
Franz Boas and John Alden Mason in Porto Rico
Rafael Ocasio
Rutgers University Press, 2020
Race and Nation in Puerto Rican Folklore: Franz Boas and John Alden Mason in Porto Rico explores the historic research trip taken to Puerto Rico in 1915. As a component of the Scientific Survey of Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands, Boas intended to perform field research in the areas of anthropology and ethnography while other scientists explored the island’s natural resources. A young anthropologist working under Boas, John Alden Mason, rescued hundreds of oral folklore samples, ranging from popular songs, poetry, conundrums, sayings, and, most particularly, folktales while documenting native Puerto Rican cultural practices. Through his extensive excursions, Mason came in touch with the rural lives of Puerto Rican peasants, the jíbaros, who served as both his cultural informants and writers of the folklore samples. These stories, many of which are still part of the island’s literary traditions and collected in a bilingual companion volume by Rafael Ocasio, reflect a strong Puerto Rican identity coalescing in the face of the U.S. political intervention on the island. A fascinating slice of Puerto Rican history and culture sure to delight any reader!
 
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Raising the Living Dead
Rehabilitative Corrections in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean
Alberto Ortiz Díaz
University of Chicago Press, 2023
An eye-opening look at how incarcerated people, health professionals, and others behind and beyond bars came together to problem-solve incarceration.
 
Raising the Living Dead is a history of Puerto Rico’s carceral rehabilitation system that brings to life the interactions of incarcerated people, their wider social networks, and health care professionals. Alberto Ortiz Díaz describes the ways that multiple communities of care came together both inside and outside of prisons to imagine and enact solution-oriented cultures of rehabilitation from the 1930s to the 1960s. Scientific and humanistic approaches to well-being were deliberately fused to raise the “living dead,” an expression that reemerged in the modern Caribbean to refer to prisoners. These reform groups sought to raise incarcerated people physically, mentally, socially, spiritually, and civically.
 
The book is based on deep, original archival research into the Oso Blanco (White Bear) penitentiary in Puerto Rico, yet it situates its study within Puerto Rico’s broader carceral archipelago and other Caribbean prisons. The agents of this history include not only physical health professionals, but also psychologists and psychiatrists, social workers, spiritual and religious practitioners, and, of course, the prisoners and their families. By following all these groups and emphasizing the interpersonal exercise of power, Ortiz Díaz tells a story that goes beyond debates about structural and social control.
 
The book addresses key issues in the history of prisons and the histories of medicine and belief, including how prisoners’ different racial, class, and cultural identities shaped their incarceration and how professionals living in a colonial society dealt with the challenge of rehabilitating prisoners for citizenship.
 
Raising the Living Dead is not just about convicts, their immediate interlocutors, and their contexts, however, but about how together these open a window into the history of social uplift projects within the (neo)colonial societies of the Caribbean. There is no book like this in Caribbean historiography; few examine these themes in the larger literature on the history of prisons.
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Remixing Reggaetón
The Cultural Politics of Race in Puerto Rico
Petra R. Rivera-Rideau
Duke University Press, 2015
Puerto Rico is often depicted as a "racial democracy" in which a history of race mixture has produced a racially harmonious society. In Remixing Reggaetón, Petra R. Rivera-Rideau shows how reggaetón musicians critique racial democracy's privileging of whiteness and concealment of racism by expressing identities that center blackness and African diasporic belonging. Stars such as Tego Calderón criticize the Puerto Rican mainstream's tendency to praise black culture but neglecting and marginalizing the island's black population, while Ivy Queen, the genre's most visible woman, disrupts the associations between whiteness and respectability that support official discourses of racial democracy. From censorship campaigns on the island that sought to devalue reggaetón, to its subsequent mass marketing to U.S. Latino listeners, Rivera-Rideau traces reggaetón's origins and its transformation from the music of San Juan's slums into a global pop phenomenon. Reggaetón, she demonstrates, provides a language to speak about the black presence in Puerto Rico and a way to build links between the island and the African diaspora.
 
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Report on the Island and Diocese of Puerto Rico (1647)
Don Diego Torres y Vargas, Translated by Jaime R. Vidal
University of Scranton Press, 2010

Composed at the request of the Royal Spanish Chronicler of the Indies, Don Diego Torres y Vargas’s Report on the Island & Diocese of Puerto Rico was the first history of Puerto Rico written by a native of the Spanish island colony. Torres y Vargas, a fourth generation Puerto Rican and descendant of Ponce de Leon, records here the history of the Catholic Church in Puerto Rico as well as the political, social, military, economic, and natural history of the island.

            This translation—the first ever into English—includes three historical essays by eminent Puerto Rican and Latino Studies scholar Anthony Stevens-Arroyo and extensive translator notes to guide the reader through the realities of seventeenth-century Puerto Rican culture and society.   

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Rethinking Puerto Rican Precolonial History
Reniel Rodríguez Ramos
University of Alabama Press, 2010
Focuses on the successive indigenous cultures of Puerto Rico prior to 1493

The history of Puerto Rico has usually been envisioned as a sequence of colonizations-various indigenous peoples from Archaic through Taíno were successively invaded, assimilated, or eliminated, followed by the Spanish entrada, which was then modified by African traditions and, since 1898, by the United States. The truth is more complex, but in many ways Puerto Rico remains one of the last colonies in the world. This volume focuses on the successive indigenous cultures of Puerto Rico prior to 1493.
 
Traditional studies of the cultures of indigenous peoples of the Caribbean have centered on ceramic studies, based on the archaeological model developed by Irving Rouse which has guided Caribbean archaeology for decades. Rodríguez Ramos departs from this methodology by implementing lithics as the primary unit for tracing the origins and developments of the indigenous peoples of Puerto Rico. Analyzing the technological styles involved in the production of stone artifacts in the island through time, as well as the evaluation of an inventory of more than 500 radiocarbon dates recovered since Rouse's model emerged, the author presents a truly innovative study revealing alternative perspectives on Puerto Rico's pre-Columbian culture-historical sequence. By applying a multiscalar design, he not only not only provides an analysis of the plural ways in which the precolonial peoples of the island interacted and negotiated their identities but also shows how the cultural landscapes of Puerto Rico, the Antilles, and the Greater Caribbean shaped and were shaped by mutually constituting processes through time.
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Revolution Around the Corner
Voices from the Puerto Rican Socialist Party in the U.S.
Edited by José E. Velázquez, Carmen V. Rivera, and Andrés Torres
Temple University Press, 2021

Active from the late 1960s until the mid-1990s, the U.S. branch of the Puerto Rican Socialist Party (PSP) worked simultaneously to build support for Puerto Rican independence and to engage in radical social change within the United States.  

Revolution Around the Corner chronicles this unique social movement, describing various mass campaigns and the inner workings of the organization. The editors and contributors—all former members, leaders, and supporters of the PSP—offer a range of views and interpretations of their experience. 

Combining historical accounts, personal stories, interviews, and retrospective analysis, Revolution Around the Corner examines specific actions such as the National Day of Solidarity (El Acto Nacional), the Bicentennial without Colonies, the Save Hostos struggle, and the Vieques campaign. Testimonies recount the pros and cons of membership diversity, as well as issues of loyalty and compañerismo. In addition, essays describe the PSP’s participation in coalitions and alliances with Left and progressive movements. The book concludes with the editors’ reflections on the PSP’s achievements, mistakes, and contributions.

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San Juan
Memoir of a City
Edgardo Rodriguez Julia; Translated by Peter Grandbois
University of Wisconsin Press, 2007
     San Juan: Memoir of a City conducts readers through Puerto Rico's capital, guided by one of its most graceful and reflective writers, Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá. No mere sightseeing tour, this is culture through immersion, a circuit of San Juan's historical and intellectual vistas as well as its architecture. 
     In the allusive cityscape he recreates, Rodríguez Juliá invokes the ghosts of his childhood, of San Juan's elder literati, and of characters from his own novels. On the most tangible level, the city is a place of cabarets and cockfighting clubs, flâneurs and beach bums, smoke-filled bars and honking automobiles. Poised between a colonial past and a commercial future, the San Juan he portrays feels at times perilously close to the pitfalls of modernization. Tenement houses and fading mansions yield to strip malls and Tastee Freezes; asphalt hems in jacarandas and palm trees. "In Puerto Rico," he muses, "life is not simply cruel, it is also busy erasing our tracks." Through this book—available here in English for the first time—Rodríguez Juliá resists that erasure, thoughtfully etching a palimpsest that preserves images of the city where he grew up and rejoicing in the one where he still lives.
 
 
Best Books for Regional General Audiences, selected by the American Association of School Librarians and the Public Library Association
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Scripts of Blackness
Race, Cultural Nationalism, and U.S. Colonialism in Puerto Rico
Isar P. Godreau
University of Illinois Press, 2015
The geopolitical influence of the United States informs the processes of racialization in Puerto Rico, including the construction of black places. In Scripts of Blackness, Isar P. Godreau explores how Puerto Rican national discourses about race--created to overcome U.S. colonial power--simultaneously privilege whiteness, typecast blackness, and silence charges of racism.
 
Based on an ethnographic study of the barrio of San Antón in the city of Ponce, Scripts of Blackness examines institutional and local representations of blackness as developing from a power-laden process that is inherently selective and political, not neutral or natural. Godreau traces the presumed benevolence or triviality of slavery in Puerto Rico, the favoring of a Spanish colonial whiteness (under a hispanophile discourse), and the insistence on a harmonious race mixture as discourses that thrive on a presumed contrast with the United States that also characterize Puerto Rico as morally superior. In so doing, she outlines the debates, social hierarchies, and colonial discourses that inform the racialization of San Antón and its residents as black.
 
Mining ethnographic materials and anthropological and historical research, Scripts of Blackness provides powerful insights into the critical political, economic, and historical context behind the strategic deployment of blackness, whiteness, and racial mixture.
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Shaping the Discourse on Space
Charity and Its Wards in Nineteenth-Century San Juan, Puerto Rico
By Teresita Martínez-Vergne
University of Texas Press, 1999

As an inchoate middle class emerged in Puerto Rico in the early nineteenth century, its members sought to control not only public space, but also the people, activities, and even attitudes that filled it. Their instruments were the San Juan town council and the Casa de Beneficencia, a state-run charitable establishment charged with responsibility for the poor.

In this book, Teresita Martínez-Vergne explores how municipal officials and the Casa de Beneficencia shaped the discourse on public and private space and thereby marginalized the worthy poor and vagrants, "liberated" Africans, indigent and unruly women, and destitute children. Drawing on extensive and innovative archival research, she shows that the men who comprised the San Juan ayuntamiento and the board of charity regulated the public discourse on topics such as education, religious orthodoxy, hygiene, and family life, thereby establishing norms for "correct" social behavior and chastising the "deviant" lifestyles of the working poor.

This research clarifies the ways in which San Juan's middle class defined itself in the midst of rapid social and economic change. It also offers new insights into notions of citizenship and the process of nation-building in the Caribbean.

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Simone
A Novel
Eduardo Lalo
University of Chicago Press, 2015
Eduardo Lalo is one of the most vital and unique voices of Latin American literature, but his work is relatively little known in the English-speaking world. That changes now: this masterful translation of his most celebrated novel, Simone—which won the 2013 Rómulo Gallegos International Novel Prize—will introduce an English-language audience to this extraordinary literary talent.

A tale of alienation, love, suspense, imagination, and literature set on the streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Simone tells the story of a self-educated Chinese immigrant student courting (and stalking) a disillusioned, unnamed writer who is struggling to make a name for himself in a place that is not exactly a hotbed of literary fame. By turns solipsistic and political, romantic and dark, Simone begins with the writer’s frustrated, satiric observations on his native city and the banal life of the university where he teaches—forces utterly at odds with the sensuality of his writing. But, as mysterious messages and literary clues begin to appear—scrawled on sidewalks and walls, inside volumes set out in bookstores, left on his answering machine and under his windshield wiper—Simone progresses into a cat-and-mouse game between the writer and his mystery stalker. When the eponymous Simone’s identity is at last revealed, the writer finds in the life of this Chinese immigrant a plight not unlike his own. Traumatized and lonely, the pair moves towards bittersweet collaborations in passion, grief, and art.
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Sponsored Identities
Cultural Politics in Puerto Rico
Arlene Davila
Temple University Press, 1997
"Now everybody loves Puerto Rican culture," says a Puerto Rican schoolteacher and festival organizer, "but that's exactly the problem." Thus begins this major examination of cultural nationalism as a political construct involving party ideologies, corporate economic goals, and grassroots cultural groups.

Author Arlene Davila focuses on the Institute for Puerto Rican Culture, the government institution charged with defining authenticated views of national identity since the 1950s, and on popular festival organizers to illuminate contestations over appropriate representations of culture in the increasingly mass-mediated context of contemporary Puerto Rico. She examines the creation of an essentialist view of nationhood based on a peasant culture and a "unifying" Hispanic heritage, and the ways in which grassroots organizations challenge and reconfigure definitions of national identity through their own activities and representations.

Davila pays particular attention to the increasing prominence of corporate sponsorship in determining what is distinguished as authentic "Puerto Rican culture" and discusses the politicization of culture as a discourse to debate and legitimize conflicting claims from selling commercial product to advocating divergent status options for the island. In so doing, Davila illuminates the prospects for cultural identities in an increasingly transnational context by showing the growth of cultural nationalism to be intrinsically connected to forms of political action directed to the realm of culture and cultural politics. This in-depth examination also makes clear that despite contemporary concerns with "authenticity," commercialism is an inescapable aspect of all cultural expression on the island.
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Sponsored Migration
The State and Puerto Rican Postwar Migration to the United States
Edgardo Meléndez
The Ohio State University Press, 2017
Puerto Rico is often left out of conversations on migration and transnationalism within the Latino context. Sponsored Migration: The State and Puerto Rican Postwar Migration to the United States by Edgardo Meléndez seeks to rectify this oversight, serving as a comprehensive study of the factors affecting Puerto Rican migration to the United States from the late 1940s to the 1960s. Examining the consequences of the perceived problem of Puerto Rican overpopulation as well as the cost of U.S. imperialism on the lives of Puerto Rican workers, Meléndez scrutinizes Puerto Rican migration in the postwar period as a microcosm of the political history of migration throughout Latin America.
 
 
Sponsored Migration places Puerto Rico’s migration policy in its historical context, examining the central role the Puerto Rican government played in encouraging and organizing migration during the postwar period. Meléndez sheds an important new light on the many ways in which the government intervened in the movement of its people: attempting to provide labor to U.S. agriculture, incorporating migrants into places like New York City, seeking to expand the island’s air transportation infrastructure, and even promoting migration in the public school system. One of the first scholars to explore this topic in depth, Meléndez illuminates how migration influenced U.S. and Puerto Rican relations from 1898 onward. 
 
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Sugar and Slavery in Puerto Rico
The Plantation Economy of Ponce, 1800–1850
Francisco A. Scarano
University of Wisconsin Press, 1984

This important study of Ponce, a major sugar-producing district in Puerto Rico, examines in detail the processes by which a predominantly peasant economy an society was transformed into a plantation system. Scarano’s work, one of the first full investigations into Puerto Rico’s nineteenth-century economic history, dispels the long-held belief that slavery was an inconsequential factor in this society; indeed, he finds that the new plantation system was fully dependent on African slave labor, and that the initial stimuli for economic change came from immigrants.

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Surviving Spanish Conquest
Indian Fight, Flight, and Cultural Transformation in Hispaniola and Puerto Rico
Karen F. Anderson-Córdova
University of Alabama Press, 2017
Surviving Spanish Conquest reveals the transformation that occurred in Indian communities during the Spanish conquest of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico from 1492 to 1550.

In Surviving Spanish Conquest: Indian Fight, Flight, and Cultural Transformation in Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, Karen F. Anderson-Córdova draws on archaeological, historical, and ethnohistorical sources to elucidate the impacts of sixteenth-century Spanish conquest and colonization on indigenous peoples in the Greater Antilles. Moving beyond the conventional narratives of the quick demise of the native populations because of forced labor and the spread of Old World diseases, this book shows the complexity of the initial exchange between the Old and New Worlds and examines the myriad ways the indigenous peoples responded to Spanish colonization.
 
Focusing on Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, the first Caribbean islands to be conquered and colonized by the Spanish, Anderson-Córdova explains Indian sociocultural transformation within the context of two specific processes, out-migration and in-migration, highlighting how population shifts contributed to the diversification of peoples. For example, as the growing presence of “foreign” Indians from other areas of the Caribbean complicated the variety of responses by Indian groups, her investigation reveals that Indians who were subjected to slavery, or the “encomienda system,” accommodated and absorbed many Spanish customs, yet resumed their own rituals when allowed to return to their villages. Other Indians fled in response to the arrival of the Spanish.
 
The culmination of years of research, Surviving Spanish Conquest deftly incorporates archaeological investigations at contact sites copious use of archival materials, and anthropological assessments of the contact period in the Caribbean. Ultimately, understanding the processes of Indian-Spanish interaction in the Caribbean enhances comprehension of colonization in many other parts of the world. Anderson-Córdova concludes with a discussion regarding the resurgence of interest in the Taíno people and their culture, especially of individuals who self-identify as Taíno. This volume provides a wealth of insight to historians, anthropologists, archaeologists, and those interested in early cultures in contact.
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Three Ancient Colonies
Caribbean Themes and Variations
Sidney W. Mintz
Harvard University Press, 2010

As a young anthropologist, Sidney Mintz undertook fieldwork in Jamaica, Haiti, and Puerto Rico. Fifty years later, the eminent scholar of the Caribbean returns to those experiences to meditate on the societies and on the island people who befriended him. These reflections illuminate continuities and differences between these cultures, but even more they exemplify the power of people to reveal their own history.

Mintz seeks to conjoin his knowledge of the history of Jamaica, Haiti, and Puerto Rico—a dynamic past born of a confluence of peoples of a sort that has happened only a few times in human history—with the ways that he heard people speak about themselves and their lives. Mintz argues that in Jamaica and Haiti, creolization represented a tremendous creative act by enslaved peoples: that creolization was not a passive mixing of cultures, but an effort to create new hybrid institutions and cultural meanings to replace those that had been demolished by enslavement. Globalization is not the new phenomenon we take it to be.

This book is both a summation of Mintz's groundbreaking work in the region and a reminder of how anthropology allows people to explore the deep truths that history may leave unexamined.

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Tibes
People, Power, and Ritual at the Center of the Cosmos
Edited by L. Antonio Curet and Lisa M. Stringer
University of Alabama Press, 2009
The first comprehensive analysis of a strategically located ceremonial center on the island of Puerto Rico

The prehistoric civic-ceremonial center of Tibes is located on the southern coast of Puerto Rico, just north of the modern coastal city of Ponce. Protected on two sides by a river, and on the other two sides by hills, this approximately 10.5-acre site remains as fertile and productive today as when first occupied over 2,000 years ago. Such a rich region would have been a choice location for native peoples because of the diversity in all resources, from land, air, and sea--and also symbolically crucial as a liminal space within the landscape. It may have been regarded as a space charged with numen or cosmic energy where different parts of the cosmos (natural vs. supernatural, or world of the living vs. world of the dead) overlap. Archaeological evidence reveals a long occupation, about 1,000 years, possibly followed by an extensive period of sporadic ceremonial use after the site itself was practically abandoned.

In this volume, nineteen Caribbeanists, across a wide academic spectrum, examine the geophysical, paleoethnobotanical, faunal, lithics, base rock, osteology, bone chemistry and nutrition, social landscape, and ceremonial constructs employed at Tibes. These scholars provide a concise, well-presented, comprehensive analysis of the evidence for local level changes in household economy, internal organization, accessibility to economic, religious, and symbolic resources related to the development and internal operation of socially stratified societies in the Caribbean.


 
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Translocas
The Politics of Puerto Rican Drag and Trans Performance
Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes
University of Michigan Press, 2021

Translocas focuses on drag and transgender performance and activism in Puerto Rico and its diaspora. Arguing for its political potential, Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes explores the social and cultural disruptions caused by Latin American and Latinx “locas” (effeminate men, drag queens, transgender performers, and unruly women) and the various forms of violence to which queer individuals in Puerto Rico and the U.S. are subjected. This interdisciplinary, auto-ethnographic, queer-of-color performance studies book explores the lives and work of contemporary performers and activists including Sylvia Rivera, Nina Flowers, Freddie Mercado, Javier Cardona, Jorge Merced, Erika Lopez, Holly Woodlawn, Monica Beverly Hillz, Lady Catiria, and Barbra Herr; television programs such as RuPaul’s Drag Race; films such as Paris Is BurningThe Salt Mines, and Mala Mala; and literary works by authors such as Mayra Santos-Febres and Manuel Ramos Otero. Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, a drag performer himself, demonstrates how each destabilizes (and sometimes reifies) dominant notions of gender and sexuality through drag and their embodied transgender expression. These performances provide a means to explore and critique issues of race, class, poverty, national identity, and migratory displacement while they posit a relationship between audiences and performers that has a ritual-like, communal dimension. The book also analyzes the murders of Jorge Steven López Mercado and Kevin Fret in Puerto Rico, and invites readers to challenge, question, and expand their knowledge about queer life, drag, trans performance, and Puerto Rican identity in the Caribbean and the diaspora. The author also pays careful attention to transgender experience, highlighting how trans activists and performers mold their bodies, promote social change, and create community in a context that oscillates between glamour and abjection.

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Tuning Out Blackness
Race and Nation in the History of Puerto Rican Television
Yeidy M. Rivero
Duke University Press, 2005
Tuning Out Blackness fills a glaring omission in U.S. and Latin American television studies by looking at the history of Puerto Rican television. In exploring the political and cultural dynamics that have shaped racial representations in Puerto Rico’s commercial media from the late 1940s to the 1990s, Yeidy M. Rivero advances critical discussions about race, ethnicity, and the media. She shows that televisual representations of race have belied the racial egalitarianism that allegedly pervades Puerto Rico’s national culture. White performers in blackface have often portrayed “blackness” in local television productions, while black actors have been largely excluded.

Drawing on interviews, participant observation, archival research, and textual analysis, Rivero considers representations of race in Puerto Rico, taking into account how they are intertwined with the island’s status as a U.S. commonwealth, its national culture, its relationship with Cuba before the Cuban Revolution in 1959, and the massive influx of Cuban migrants after 1960. She focuses on locally produced radio and television shows, particular television events, and characters that became popular media icons—from the performer Ramón Rivero’s use of blackface and “black” voice in the 1940s and 1950s, to the battle between black actors and television industry officials over racism in the 1970s, to the creation, in the 1990s, of the first Puerto Rican situation comedy featuring a black family. As the twentieth century drew to a close, multinational corporations had purchased all Puerto Rican stations and threatened to wipe out locally produced programs. Tuning Out Blackness brings to the forefront the marginalization of nonwhite citizens in Puerto Rico’s media culture and raises important questions about the significance of local sites of television production.

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A Universal Theory of Pottery Production
Irving Rouse, Attributes, Modes, and Ethnography
Richard A. Krause
University of Alabama Press, 2016
In A Universal Theory of Pottery Production, award-winning archaeologist Richard A. Krause presents an ethnographic account of pottery production based on archaeological evidence.
 
Krause posits that the careful study of an archaeological site’s ceramics can be used to formulate a step-and-stage theory of pottery production for the area. Krause’s work suggests that by comparing the results of inquiries conducted at different sites and for different times, archaeologists may be able to create a general ethnographic theory of pottery production.
 
Krause demonstrates this process through a comprehensive analysis of potsherds from the highly stratified Puerto Rican site of Paso del Indio. He first provides a comprehensive explanation of the archaeological concepts of attribute, mode, feature, association, site, analysis, and classification. Using these seven concepts, he categorizes the production and decorative techniques in the Paso del Indio site. Krause then applies the concept of “focal form vessels” to the site’s largest fragments to test his step-and-stage theory of production against the evidence they provide. Finally, he assigns the ceramics at Paso del Indio to previously discussed potting traditions.
 
Unlike other books on the subject that use statistical methods to frame basic archaeological concepts, Krause approaches these topics from the perspective of epistemology and the explicatory practices of empirical science. In A Universal Theory of Pottery Production Krause offers much of interest to North American, Caribbean, and South American archaeologists interested in the manufacture, decoration, and classification of prehistoric pottery, as well as for archaeologists interested in archaeological theory.
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We Are Left without a Father Here
Masculinity, Domesticity, and Migration in Postwar Puerto Rico
Eileen J. Suárez Findlay
Duke University Press, 2015
We Are Left without a Father Here is a transnational history of working people's struggles and a gendered analysis of populism and colonialism in mid-twentieth-century Puerto Rico. At its core are the thousands of agricultural workers who, at the behest of the Puerto Rican government, migrated to Michigan in 1950 to work in the state's sugar beet fields. The men expected to earn enough income to finally become successful breadwinners and fathers. To their dismay, the men encountered abysmal working conditions and pay. The migrant workers in Michigan and their wives in Puerto Rico soon exploded in protest. Chronicling the protests, the surprising alliances that they created, and the Puerto Rican government's response, Eileen J. Suárez Findlay explains that notions of fatherhood and domesticity were central to Puerto Rican populist politics. Patriarchal ideals shaped citizens' understandings of themselves, their relationship to Puerto Rican leaders and the state, as well as the meanings they ascribed to U.S. colonialism. Findlay argues that the motivations and strategies for transnational labor migrations, colonial policies, and worker solidarities are all deeply gendered.
 
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What It Means To Be A Man
Reflections on Puerto Rican Masculinity
Rafael L. Ramirez
Rutgers University Press, 1999
Rafael L. Ramírez presents an insightful examination of Puerto Rican culture and the ways in which Puerto Rican masculinity is constructed.

What It Means to Be a Man begins with a discussion of machismo set in the context of the social construction of masculinity. Ramírez presents his interpretation of what it means to be a Puerto Rican man, discussing the attributes and demands of masculinity, and pointing out the ways in which strength, competition, and sexuality are joined with power and pleasure. He examines the erotic relationships between men as part of the expressions of masculinity, and analyzes how the homosexual experience reproduces the dominant masculine ideology. Finally, Ramírez draws on the literature of the recent men's movements, offering Puerto Rican men the possibility of constructing a new masculinity, liberated from power games, to provide them with a chance to not only be better understood by others, but also to better understand themselves and their place in society.
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Witchcraft and Welfare
Spiritual Capital and the Business of Magic in Modern Puerto Rico
By Raquel Romberg
University of Texas Press, 2003

Persecuted as evil during colonial times, considered charlatans during the nation-building era, Puerto Rican brujos (witch-healers) today have become spiritual entrepreneurs who advise their clients not only in consultation with the spirits but also in compliance with state laws and new economic opportunities. Combining trance, dance, magic, and healing practices with expertise in the workings of the modern welfare state, they help lawyers win custody suits, sick employees resolve labor disability claims, single mothers apply for government housing, or corporation managers maximize their commercial skills.

Drawing on extensive fieldwork among practicing brujos, this book presents a masterful history and ethnography of Puerto Rican brujería (witch-healing). Raquel Romberg explores how brujería emerged from a blending of popular Catholicism, Afro-Latin religions, French Spiritism, and folk Protestantism and also looks at how it has adapted to changes in state policies and responded to global flows of ideas and commodities. She demonstrates that, far from being an exotic or marginal practice in the modern world, brujería has become an invisible yet active partner of consumerism and welfare capitalism.

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