- Perales, Courtney [Browse]
- Senior thesis
- Johnson, Andrew A. [Browse]
- Princeton University. Department of Anthropology [Browse]
- Princeton University. Program in Latin American Studies [Browse]
- Class year
- Summary note
- Cultural nationalism and political history have fueled the Puerto Rican independence movement through the years. From the time of the Spanish colonial rule, los puertorriqueños have expressed a desire for self determination through protest, the arts, and violence. Posing a threat to American economic incentives in Puerto Rico, independentistas faced the full force of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and became targets for assassination. Raids and even massacres on the island and in the United States intimidated independence supporters and attempted to suppress the movement. Activists continue to work in efforts against neocolonialism today. They come from many backgrounds, but come together through their nationalist passions to get involved in educational campaigns, teach-ins, and marches. Outside of arguments to support statehood or the commonwealth status for Puerto Rico, there is much to unpack within the independence movement. Exploring the intricate connections between island-born and US-born Puerto Ricans, questions of identity and historical memory were consistently brought up in relationship to culture. Though Puerto Ricans may not be born on the island, those active in independence actions still feel ardent connections to their homeland. Cultural nationalism has served as a motivating factor for independentistas to engage in demonstrations and conversations around decolonization. In the same way, revolutionary action for Puerto Rican sovereignty foments cultural pride. Independentistas connect with their culture on a deeper and more passionate level that allows them to unite with Puerto Ricans across all physical barriers and borders. This is why my interviews with independence supporters were equally rich in cultural pride and political knowledge despite coming from different generations and living both on and off of the island. People saw current events in Puerto Rico through the context of past injustices committed by American officials or complicit Puerto Rican politicians. Their oral histories reference the tragedies that the liberation movement endured as well as the general discontent that remains salient on the island.