Puerto Rico: Culture, Politics, and Identity

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This book uses his­tor­i­cal and inter­view data to trace the devel­op­ment of Puer­to Rican iden­ti­ty in the 20th cen­tu­ry. It ana­lyzes how and why Puer­to Ricans have main­tained a clear sense of dis­tinc­tive­ness in the face of direct and indi­rect pres­sures on their iden­ti­ty. After gain­ing sov­er­eign­ty over Puer­to Rico from Spain in 1898, the Unit­ed States under­took a sus­tained cam­paign to Amer­i­can­ize the island. Despite 50 years of active Amer­i­can­iza­tion and anoth­er 40 years of con­tin­ued Unit­ed States sov­er­eign­ty over the island, Puer­to Ricans retain a sense of them­selves as dis­tinct­ly and proud­ly Puer­to Rican. This study exam­ines the sym­bols of Puer­to Rican iden­ti­ty, and their use in the com­plex pol­i­tics of the island. It shows that iden­ti­ty is dynam­ic, it is expe­ri­enced dif­fer­ent­ly by indi­vid­u­als across Puer­to Rican soci­ety, and that the key sym­bols of Puer­to Rican iden­ti­ty have not remained sta­t­ic over time. Through the study of Puer­to Rico, the book inves­ti­gates and chal­lenges the wide­ly-heard argu­ment that the inevitable result of the export of U.S. mass media and con­sumer cul­ture through­out the world is the weak­en­ing of cul­tur­al iden­ti­ties in receiv­ing soci­eties. The book devel­ops the idea that exter­nal pres­sure on col­lec­tive iden­ti­ty may strength­en that iden­ti­ty rather than, as is often assumed, dimin­ish it.

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