Mambo Montage: The Latinization of New York

By Agustín Laó-Montes; Arlene Dávila | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE
Ambiguous Identities!
The Affirmation of Puertorriqueñidad in the
Community Murals of New York City*
Elsa B. Cardalda Sánchez
Amílcar Tirado Avilés

—Hola …

—¡ No, BUENAS!

At a casita, conversation between one of the authors and a Loisaida resident

This essay explores the social representations of Puerto Rican cultural identity through the study of muralism in El Barrio. For the last three decades a tradition of muralism in New York City has been used by Puerto Ricans to express their socioeconomic and political concerns. Therefore, we ask what muralism in El Barrio says about the community and about puertorriqueñidad as well as why it has arisen with such force recently.

The selection of El Barrio for conducting our study is based on its historical and symbolic importance for Puerto Ricans, who have occupied this neighborhood for over seven decades. The discourse of puertorriqueñidad has been a historical formation maturing since the 1920s and more recently a metonymic base supporting current conceptions of latinidad in New York City. Thus, our essay relates to the general discussion of this book regarding the genealogy of discourses of latinidad and presents the mural as an emblematic montage of identity in the City.

Our essay reports on the El Barrio Murals Research Project, which we developed from the perspectives of social psychology and history. We view

____________________
*
In memory of Andrés E. Cardalda (Papi). Special thanks to Mayra Berríos, Nancy Llera, Nitza L. Guadalupe, Dr. José Rodríguez, and Dr. Daniel Martínez from the Caribbean Center for Advanced Studies in San Juan, Puerto Rico; to Blanca Vázquez and Pedro Rivera in New York; and to David Fontánez in Puerto Rico. Photos by Amílcar Tirado Avilés and Elsa B. Cardalda Sánchez

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