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Puerto Rican Jam: Rethinking Colonialism and Nationalism

Frances Negrón-Muntaner
Ramón Grosfoguel
Copyright Date: 1997
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Puerto Rican Jam
    Book Description:

    These discussions elaborate alternatives to dominant postcolonial theories, and include essays written from the perspectives of groups that are not usually represented, such as gays and lesbians, youth, blacks, and women. Contributors: Jaime E. Benson-Arias, Arlene Dávila, Chloé S. Georas, Manuel Guzmán, Gladys M. Jiménez-Muñoz, Agustín Lao, Yolanda Martínez-San Miguel, Mariano Négron-Portillo, José Quiroga, Raquel Z. Rivera, Alberto Sandoval Sánchez, and Kelvin A. Santiago-Valles.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8762-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. INTRODUCTION Beyond Nationalist and Colonialis Discourses: The Jaiba Politics of the Puerto Rican Ethno-Nation
    (pp. 1-36)
    Ramón Grosfoguel, Frances Negrón-Muntaner and Chloé S. Georas

    Like all anthologies, this collection of essays emerges within a specific set of personal and social contexts. The immediate context is the encounter of three island Puerto Rican graduate students during the late 1980s in Philadelphia, who shared a sense of intellectual and political isolation from both mainstream and “left” Puerto Rican cultural/political practices in the United States and the island.

    Superficially we were undergoing what many middle-class intellectuals from the island already saw as routine—going up toel norteto buy a prestigious (or not so prestigious degree)en inglésand returning home to an always already present...

  2. PART ONE Challenging Nationalism

    • CHAPTER ONE Puerto Rico: Surviving Colonialism and Nationalism
      (pp. 39-56)
      Mariano Negrón-Portillo

      During the latter part of the nineteenth century, the Puerto Rican elite, struggling against the authoritarian Spanish rule, slowly began to articulate a political project that would serve to overcome its political and economic subordination. Although some of the Puerto Rican proprietors and professionals were eitherindependentistasor annexationists,¹ the majority of the Creole elite favored some form of self-government for the island during the final decades of the century. Autonomy thus appeared to be the most adequate political project for these cautious and relatively weak social sectors that lacked the cohesion and the strength to assume more radical stances....

    • CHAPTER TWO The Divorce of Nationalist Discourses from the Puerto Rican People: A Sociohistorical Perspective
      (pp. 57-76)
      Ramón Grosfoguel

      The referendum of November 14, 1993, concerning the political status of Puerto Rico provides a critical opportunity to analyze the historically consistent rejection of independence by Puerto Ricans. More than 70 percent of the electorate participated in the referendum. The breakdown of the results by alternatives was as follows: 48 percent voted in favor of maintaining the Commonwealth (the current colonial status), 46 percent voted for statehood, and only 4 percent voted for independence. A significant feature of the outcome was the increase of the pro-statehood vote, which grew by 7 percent, as compared to the 1967 plebiscite where statehood...

    • CHAPTER THREE Puerto Rico: The Myth of the National Economy
      (pp. 77-92)
      Jaime E. Benson-Arias

      As an economic entity, Puerto Rico has been conceptualized in the literature of political economy in basically two ways: as an economic region of the United States¹ or as a separate, self-contained, autonomous economy.² Most treatments of Puerto Rico as a regional economy, with the exception of Frank Bonilla and Ricardo Campos’s, leave out the island’s unique social struggles and configuration. On the other hand, treating Puerto Rico as a separate national economy omits the specificity of its space with respect to two key political economy phenomena: capitalist accumulation and capitalist reproduction.³

      Does Puerto Rico have its own capitalist accumulation...

  3. PART TWO ThinkingTextually

    • CHAPTER FOUR The Discreet Charm of the Proletariat: Imagining Early-Twentieth-Century Puerto Ricans in the Past Twenty-Five Years of Historical Inquiry
      (pp. 95-115)
      Kelvin A. Santiago-Valles

      How have the new historical studies of the past twenty-five years understood and interpreted the Puerto Rican reality of the first half of the twentieth century? How have social transgressions been defined, and how has social change been conceptually appraised? What difference have colonial differences made in researching the impact of capitalism on most Puerto Ricans? What was the place, if any, of textual analysis within this historical inquiry? And what was the sociohistorical/conceptual space—the episteme¹—that constituted this particular historiographical order?

      Until the late 1960s and early 1970s, traditional anticolonialist historiography had been represented by scholars such as...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Narrating the Tropical Pharmacy
      (pp. 116-126)
      José Quiroga

      My aim in this essay is, broadly speaking, to question whether the discourse of nationalism replicates colonialism, the very structure that it seeks to oppose. Modernist/anticolonialist writers negotiate colonialism by appealing to metaphors of disease. I question whether by extirpating at all costs the visible marks of illness from their sociologically directed texts, these authors replicate the ideological foundations that produce the taxonomy of illness by repeating a principle of univocal causation: illness, classified as such, beckons a cure. In this context, my work posits that for the nation, taxonomized as sick by colonial agents and anticolonial writers, any cure,...

    • CHAPTER SIX Deconstructing Puerto Ricanness through Sexuality: Female Counternarratives on Puerto Rican Identity (1894–1934)
      (pp. 127-139)
      Yolanda Martinez-San Miguel

      The main objective of this essay is to reread a group of literary texts produced in Puerto Rico between 1890 and 1934, and to identify some feminine counternarratives that questioned the notion of nationality. These Counternarratives were systematically excluded from hegemonic nationalist discoursse, and especially from the hegemonic discourses on national identify produced during the 1930s. The texts I discuss are the novalLuz y sombra(1903) by Ana Roqué,¹ and a selection of texts by Luisa Capetillo from her booksMi opinion sobre las libertades derechos y deberes de la mujer(1911)² andInfluencia de las ideas modernas(1916).³...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN “So We Decided to Come and AskYou Ourselves”: The 1928 U.S. Congressional Hearings on Women’s Suffrage in Puerto Rico
      (pp. 140-166)
      Gladys M. Jiménez-Muñoz

      In the newly acquired U.S. colony of Puerto Rico during the early twentieth century, citizenship was one of the terrains in which subaltern social subjects were being constituted and refashioned. This essay summarizes some of the transformations that unfolded in the social inscription of the category “woman” in Puerto Rico during the 1920s through a close reading of the U.S. Senate hearing on women’s suffrage in Puerto Rico before the Committee on Territories and Insular Possessions on April 25, 1928. This congressional hearing revealed the extent to which the domain of political rights both included and excluded “native” women, particulary...

  4. PART THREE Puerto Rican Archipelago:: Contested Identities

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Islands at the Crossroads: Puerto Ricanness Traveling between the Translocal Nation and the Global City
      (pp. 169-188)
      Agustín Lao

      On the air shuttle between the capital of the empire (Washington, D.C.) and the capital of capitals (New York City), a Latino policeman told me that he was originally “from a small part of Puerto Rico called Brooklyn,” while he expressed admiration for a print on my T-shirt depicting two bridges connecting the island of Borinquen with the island of Manhattan. The bridges were named “Puente de La Salsa” and “Puente Luis Muñoz Marín,” to signify both the airports and multiple threads that weave archipelago and diaspora into a transnation. In a recent visit to the enchanted island, I attended...

    • CHAPTER NINE Puerto Rican Identity Up in the Air: Air Migration, Its Cultural Representations, and Me “Cruzando el Charco”
      (pp. 189-208)
      Alberto Sandoval Sánchez

      Growing up in San Juan, I always heard relatives and friends saying, “Miprimo se va p’allá fuera,” “Mi hija vive allá fuera hace años,” “Mi hermana viene de fuera el domingo,” “Mi hijo estudia allá fuera.”Fuerameant New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Florida, Illinois, California.Fuerabecame a synonym for the United States.Fuerawas and still is a euphemism for migration.Fuerais that space at a distance from the speaker, that location outside, away from the island that is always conducive to spatiogeographical demarcations such asAlláandAcá, “over there” and “over here.” Since mass air migrations...

    • CHAPTER TEN “Pa’ La Escuelita con Mucho Cuida’o y por la Orillita”: A Journey through the Contested Terrains of the Nation and Sexual Orientation
      (pp. 209-228)
      Manuel Guzmán

      It was 1984, shortly after my arrival to New York City, and I still felt strongly intimate with those foreigners who never miss an opportunity to announce their foreignness lest they be confused with one of the local sort. I was one of those foreigners who tread on enchanted ground when the target of their announcement, during one of many deployments of small talk in any one of New York City’s typical gay bars, reveals the smallness of a life that has never had the experience of being foreign and says,“I’m from New York.” The grandiloquent smallness of the local...

  5. PART FOUR Culture Wars in Contemporary Puerto Rico

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Contending Nationalisms: Culture, Politics, and Corporate Sponsorship in Puerto Rico
      (pp. 231-242)
      Arlene Dávila

      This chapter considers the involvement of commercial interests and their public relations and publicity officers in the development of nationalist ideologies and conceptions of national identity in Puerto Rico. I will argue that companies dealing in such consumer goods as liquor, soft drinks, food, and tobacco have emerged as important elements affecting the growth of nationalist ideologies both through their use of Puerto Rican folklore, history, and scenes depicting “Puerto Rican life” in their advertisements and through their support of folk-art fairs, festivals, and grassroots activities. Thus, not solely homogenizing agents or threats imparting Western ideas of modernity,¹ the media...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE Rapping Two Versions of the Same Requiem
      (pp. 243-256)
      Raquel Z. Rivera

      Rap music has been evolving in Puerto Rico for nearly ten years. Beginning as an underground, though widespread, artistic expression of young people, it became a great commercial success after 1989. Today this musical genre is one of the most popular among Puerto Rican youths.

      Rap, as a phenomenon of mass communication, has a considerable audience. Still, it continues to be a cultural expression, mostly developed by and identified with young people of poor urban communities. Given the social imaginary of fear, which views poor youths as a threat to society, it is not surprising that rap is frequently perceived...

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN English Only Jamás but Spanish Only Cuidado: Language and Nationalism in Contemporary Puerto Rico
      (pp. 257-286)
      Frances Negrón-Muntaner

      At the time of the U.S. invasion of 1898, the creole elites in Puerto Rico were increasingly savoring political power over local affairs. As expectations of home rule under the incoming colonial power quickly withered away, segments of these groups discursively upheld their “Hispanic” heritage and Spanish language as a way to symbolically encase their opposition to the English-speaking “Anglos” (and their Puerto Rican prostatehood allies) who quickly became major obstacles to their political project. The seizing of language as a metaphor by a suddenly disempowered elite should not, however, be confused with the majority’s recognition of the pragmatic need...