Worker in the Cane: A Puerto Rican Life History

Worker in the Cane: A Puerto Rican Life History

Worker in the Cane: A Puerto Rican Life History

Worker in the Cane: A Puerto Rican Life History

Excerpt

This book is the story of a man's life. To relate that story as best I can, I must say something about why I was moved to try to record it. It is the life story of a highly sensitive and intelligent person who witnessed great changes in his culture as he grew to adulthood and changed himself, in fundamental ways, as he grew. While we worked together he did his best to reveal -- and to justify -- the personal solutions he had discovered for his problems. I had to try at the same time to distinguish between what seemed to be the objective truth and those aspects of what I was being told that were affected by the lens through which my friend was seeing his own past. This way of trying to record what really happened, or happens, is perilous because there are so many possible sources of distortion. The best one can do is to try to be aware of one's perceptual limitations, as well as of those of the informant. I have felt the need to interject myself into the story, not only to attempt to interpret what is being told but also to keep in view the limitations upon knowing the whole truth that are implicit in my role as recorder and reteller.

In January 1948 I went to Puerto Rico as a member of a group of graduate students in anthropology from Columbia University and the University of Chicago. We were to carry out community studies as part of a project organized by Julian H. Steward, under the sponsorship of the Centro de Investigaciones Sociales of the University of Puerto Rico, Columbia University, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Our aim was to select communities representative of major ways of life of the Puerto Rican people. I decided to select a community in the highly industrialized sugar cane area of the south coast. My . . .

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