The History of Puerto Rico

The History of Puerto Rico

The History of Puerto Rico

The History of Puerto Rico

Synopsis

A part of the United States for a century now, and yet in many ways distinctively apart from it, Puerto Rico has a historical legacy that keeps getting richer. Archaeological findings continue to reveal much about the island's pre-Columbian history, and new DNA studies confirm that many Puerto Ricans descend from the Taino people, who predated Columbus's arrival by centuries-a culture previously thought to be extinct.

Excerpt

As I was working on this project I was asked many times why a book on Puerto Rico would be included in a series called The Greenwood Histories of Modern Nations. “Puerto Rico is not a nation,” I was told triumphantly time and again (though never by Puerto Ricans). “It’s part of the United States.” Another popular response was: “What exactly is the deal with Puerto Rico?” Many non-Puerto Ricans I spoke with were not sure if Puerto Rico was part of the United States or not, whether Puerto Ricans living in the United States were immigrants, and if not, my interlocutors wanted to know, why not.

When I told Puerto Rican family and friends about my project, responses were too varied to include here; however, I noticed that no one ever brought up the “Puerto Rico isn’t a nation” argument. Puerto Ricans living on and off the island—even if our ties to the island are several generations distant—seem to have an intrinsic perception of Puerto Rico as a nation, even if it is not currently a nation-state. A history on the geographic, cultural entity that is the ancestral home of nearly 8 million people should and must be included in a series of books on modern nations. When I told Puerto Ricans about my project, I received nods of approval, offers of help, and tireless disquisitions on various aspects of Borinquen (Puerto Rican) culture and politics, particularly on the status issue.

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