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Defending Their Own in the Cold

Defending Their Own in the Cold: The Cultural Turns of U.S. Puerto Ricans

Marc Zimmerman
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Defending Their Own in the Cold
    Book Description:

    Defending Their Own in the Cold: The Cultural Turns of U.S. Puerto Ricans explores U.S. Puerto Rican culture in past and recent contexts. The book presents East Coast, Midwest, and Chicago cultural production while exploring Puerto Rican musical, film, artistic, and literary performance. Working within the theoretical frame of cultural, postcolonial, and diasporic studies, Marc Zimmerman relates the experience of Puerto Ricans to that of Chicanos and Cuban Americans, showing how even supposedly mainstream U.S. Puerto Ricans participate in a performative culture that embodies elements of possible cultural "Ricanstruction."_x000B__x000B_Defending Their Own in the Cold examines various dimensions of U.S. Puerto Rican artistic life, including relations with other ethnic groups and resistance to colonialism and cultural assimilation. To illustrate how Puerto Ricans have survived and created new identities and relations out of their colonized and diasporic circumstances, Zimmerman looks at the cultural examples of Latino entertainment stars such as Jennifer Lopez and Benicio del Toro, visual artists Juan Sanchez, Ramón Flores, and Elizam Escobar, as well as Nuyorican dancer turned Midwest poet Carmen Pursifull. The book includes a comprehensive chapter on the development of U.S. Puerto Rican literature and a pioneering essay on Chicago Puerto Rican writing. A final essay considers Cuban cultural attitudes towards Puerto Ricans in a testimonial narrative by Miguel Barnet and reaches conclusions about the past and future of U.S. Puerto Rican culture. Zimmerman offers his own "semi-outsider" point of reference as a Jewish American Latin Americanist who grew up near New York City, matured in California, went on to work with and teach Latinos in the Midwest, and eventually married a woman from a Puerto Rican family with island and U.S. roots.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09349-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xxx)

    Just a few years ago, after three decades of relating to Latin American and Latino worlds, and after having been married to a Soler-Ramos from Puerto Rico, I remembered a Ramos in my high school class in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Checking our yearbook, I saw a young man who looked very much like my Nuyorican nephew, Danny.

    Puerto Ricans had been working in cigar manufactories and on the docks for decades; ever-growing numbers had been settling in New York and New Jersey for some years—Manos a la obrawas well in march. Puerto Ricans and Mexicans had been working...

  5. Chapter 1 Puerto Rican and Chicano Crossovers in Latino Film and Music Culture
    (pp. 1-19)

    In a fascinating essay on Selena (2003), Frances Aparicio seeks to trace the history of Latino/a as opposed to specific national identifications. Interestingly, she notes how the publicity mill has taken not just one but three Puerto Ricans and sought to constitute them as Latino as opposed to Boricua figures for a Latino-centered market. This essay, originally drafted as a response to Aparicio’s, will show, among other things, that in spite of the U.S. Puerto Rican erasure in the very epistemology of Anglo America, and in spite of the negligible and negative representation of Puerto Ricans in film, Puerto Ricans,...

  6. Chapter 2 The Flag and Three Rican Artists
    (pp. 21-49)

    What is Puerto Rico? Or, as Boricuas ask of the grandmother so loved (but so hidden), where is she? First an indigenous—Arawak-Boricua-Taino—world; then a colony of plantations and small farms, of slaves, freed slaves, artisans, storekeepers, struggling, with the mother country and its own social sectors. Then it became the site of a second colonization—a special status, a unique situation, a remarkable, problematic diaspora.

    What is Puerto Rico? A space in the Caribbean or wherever Puerto Ricans make their home. An island but also more—Isla-plus, including those other islands: Culebra, Vieques … A Caribbean space so...

  7. Chapter 3 U.S. Puerto Rican Literature
    (pp. 50-79)

    Some years ago, in his introduction to an anthology of U.S. Puerto Rican poetry, Efraín Barradas (in Barradas and Rodríguez 1981, 11) went to great lengths to point out the lack of continuity and community between Nuyorican and Island writers. One of the most difficult tasks in explaining U.S. Puerto Rican writing, he argued, is to distinguish between island-oriented literature (even when it is written in New York and/or is about the U.S. diaspora), which is a branch of Caribbean or Latin American literature, and continental U.S. Puerto Rican writing, which, no matter where written, at least tends to be...

  8. Chapter 4 Puerto Rican Poets in Chicago
    (pp. 80-111)

    In an article published several years ago (Zimmerman 1989, 77), I cite the above poem published in the late 1970s by a then-young Chicago Puerto Rican, Alfredo Matías, that bears the provocative title, ″Where are the Latin Poets?″¹ Today, after so many years of Latino literary development, we may feel we no longer have to ask Matías′s question. Latino literature has fully emerged as a significant minority presence that has forced some critics to redefine the U.S. literary canon, and has even impacted social scientists as they have attempted to understand Latinos and their importance for the United States as...

  9. Chapter 5 Carmen Pursifull: Dancing from New York to Anglo-Illinois
    (pp. 112-129)

    Illinois has been a site of Puerto Rican writing for the past several years, primarily because of the mass migration to the Chicago area during the last half-century. In chapter 4, I have written about Chicago Puerto Rican writers. Here I wish to discuss the first Puerto Rican writer to emerge in Illinois outside the Chicago metropolitan area, the first indeed of what may become a larger group of non-Chicago-based Illinois Puerto Rican writers, if only because the urban population base is now moving into suburban areas and because currently growing numbers of island- and U.S.-based Puerto Rican professionals, including,...

  10. Chapter 6 Cuban–Puerto Rican Relations and Final Projections
    (pp. 130-144)

    In closing this book, I thought I would share with readers a reflection on the negative treatment of Puerto Ricans in Cuban American and other Latino writing, leading to the briefest comments on the future of U.S. Puerto Rican culture, literature, and life. With regard to the first matter, I draw on my previously unpublished study of Miguel Barnet′sLa vida real(1986), a long testimonial narrative seeking to answer Oscar Lewis′s negative treatment of the marginalization of the poor in Castro′s Cuba (Lewis, Lewis, and Rigdon 1977), but to do so by means of a Caribbeanindirecto—that is,...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 145-156)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 157-180)
  13. Index
    (pp. 181-196)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 197-202)