America's Colony: The Political and Cultural Conflict between the United States and Puerto Rico

America's Colony: The Political and Cultural Conflict between the United States and Puerto Rico

America's Colony: The Political and Cultural Conflict between the United States and Puerto Rico

America's Colony: The Political and Cultural Conflict between the United States and Puerto Rico

Synopsis

Boricua Pop is the first book solely devoted to Puerto Rican visibility, cultural impact, and identity formation in the U. S. and at home. Frances Negrón-Muntaner explores everything from the beloved American musical West Side Story to the phenomenon of singer/actress/ fashion designer Jennifer Lopez, from the faux historical chronicle Seva to the creation of Puerto Rican Barbie, from novelist Rosario Ferré to performer Holly Woodlawn, and from painter provocateur Andy Warhol to the seemingly overnight success story of Ricky Martin. Negrón-Muntaner traces some of the many possible itineraries of exchange between American and Puerto Rican cultures, including the commodification of Puerto Rican cultural practices such as voguing, graffiti, and the Latinization of pop music. Drawing from literature, film, painting, and popular culture, and including both the normative and the odd, the canonized authors and the misfits, the island and its diaspora, Boricua Pop is a fascinating blend of low life and high culture: a highly original, challenging, and lucid new work by one of our most talented cultural critics.

Excerpt

Puerto Rico is a group of islands bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. The main island is known as Puerto Rico and is joined by adjacent smaller islands that include Vieques, Culebra, Mona, and Monito. The main island—which is roughly 160 kilometers long and 53 kilometers wide and contains most of Puerto Rico's 8.959 square kilometers of land area—is the home of all but a few thousand of the nearly four million Puerto Ricans. Therefore, the archipelago is generally referred to as the Isla del Encanto (enchanted island or isle of enchantment) or, simply, the “island.” Unless otherwise expressly indicated, references to the isla, or island, refer to all the Puerto Rican islands.

For about five centuries before Christopher Columbus claimed the territory for Spain in 1493, Taino and Carib natives lived on the Puerto Rican islands. The Spanish colonial period lasted for a little more than four centuries, during which the Spaniards created the racial, legal, political, and cultural composition of the Puerto Ricans. In 1898, after prevailing in the Spanish-American War, the United States took Puerto Rico from Spain and has ruled the island and its people ever since.

The culturally Latina/Latino Puerto Ricans became citizens of the United States in 1917. Like any other U.S. citizens, the Puerto Ricans are free to travel from the island to the fifty states without travel documents or immigration checks. They also qualify for government employment and serve in the U.S. armed forces. Besides Puerto Rico's nearly four million residents, more than 2.7 million Puerto Ricans live on the United States mainland. Other U.S. citizens have not moved to Puerto Rico in substantial numbers, however. According to the 2000 U.S. Census— which provides the most current information—more than 3.8 million persons live in Puerto Rico, of whom 98.8 percent describe themselves as “Hispanic” or “Latino” and 95.1 percent as “Puerto Rican.”

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