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Defending Their Own in the Cold

The Cultural Turns of U.S. Puerto Ricans

Marc Zimmerman

Publication Year: 2011

Defending Their Own in the Cold: The Cultural Turns of U.S. Puerto Ricans explores U.S. Puerto Rican culture in past and recent contexts. The book presents East Coast, Midwest, and Chicago cultural production while exploring Puerto Rican musical, film, artistic, and literary performance. Working within the theoretical frame of cultural, postcolonial, and diasporic studies, Marc Zimmerman relates the experience of Puerto Ricans to that of Chicanos and Cuban Americans, showing how even supposedly mainstream U.S. Puerto Ricans participate in a performative culture that embodies elements of possible cultural "Ricanstruction."_x000B__x000B_Defending Their Own in the Cold examines various dimensions of U.S. Puerto Rican artistic life, including relations with other ethnic groups and resistance to colonialism and cultural assimilation. To illustrate how Puerto Ricans have survived and created new identities and relations out of their colonized and diasporic circumstances, Zimmerman looks at the cultural examples of Latino entertainment stars such as Jennifer Lopez and Benicio del Toro, visual artists Juan Sanchez, Ramón Flores, and Elizam Escobar, as well as Nuyorican dancer turned Midwest poet Carmen Pursifull. The book includes a comprehensive chapter on the development of U.S. Puerto Rican literature and a pioneering essay on Chicago Puerto Rican writing. A final essay considers Cuban cultural attitudes towards Puerto Ricans in a testimonial narrative by Miguel Barnet and reaches conclusions about the past and future of U.S. Puerto Rican culture. Zimmerman offers his own "semi-outsider" point of reference as a Jewish American Latin Americanist who grew up near New York City, matured in California, went on to work with and teach Latinos in the Midwest, and eventually married a woman from a Puerto Rican family with island and U.S. roots.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: Latinos in Chicago and the Midwest


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

This book brings together a group of texts drafted at different moments over the past several years that constitute much of what I have come to understand about U.S. Puerto Rican culture and literature in the twenty-some-odd years I have been privileged to live among Puerto Ricans both in Chicago and on the island, with some excursions to New York and elsewhere. ...

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pp. xiii-xxviii

Just a few years ago, after three decades of relating to Latin American and Latino worlds, and after having been married to a Soler-Ramos from Puerto Rico, I remembered a Ramos in my high school class in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Checking our yearbook, I saw a young man who looked very much like my Nuyorican nephew, Danny. ...

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1. Puerto Rican and Chicano Crossovers in Latino Film and Music Culture

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pp. 1-20

In a fascinating essay on Selena (2003), Frances Aparicio seeks to trace the history of Latino/a as opposed to specific national identifications. Interestingly, she notes how the publicity mill has taken not just one but three Puerto Ricans and sought to constitute them as Latino as opposed to Boricua figures for a Latino-centered market. ...

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2. The Flag and Three Rican Artists

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pp. 21-49

What is Puerto Rico? Or, as Boricuas ask of the grandmother so loved (but so hidden), where is she? First an indigenous—Arawak-Boricua-Taino—world; then a colony of plantations and small farms, of slaves, freed slaves, artisans, storekeepers, struggling, with the mother country and its own social sectors. ...

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3. U.S. Puerto Rican Literature

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pp. 50-79

Some years ago, in his introduction to an anthology of U.S. Puerto Rican poetry, Efraín Barradas (in Barradas and Rodríguez 1981, 11) went to great lengths to point out the lack of continuity and community between Nuyorican and Island writers. One of the most difficult tasks in explaining U.S. Puerto Rican writing, he argued, ...

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4. Puerto Rican Poets in Chicago

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pp. 80-111

In an article published several years ago (Zimmerman 1989, 77), I cite the above poem published in the late 1970s by a then-young Chicago Puerto Rican, Alfredo Matías, that bears the provocative title, “Where are the Latin Poets?”1 Today, after so many years of Latino literary development, we may feel we no longer have to ask Matías’s question. ...

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5. Carmen Pursifull: Dancing from New York to Anglo-Illinois

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pp. 112-129

Illinois has been a site of Puerto Rican writing for the past several years, primarily because of the mass migration to the Chicago area during the last half-century. In chapter 4, I have written about Chicago Puerto Rican writers. Here I wish to discuss the first Puerto Rican writer to emerge in Illinois outside the Chicago metropolitan area, ...

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6. Cuban–Puerto Rican Relations and Final Projections

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pp. 130-144

In closing this book, I thought I would share with readers a reflection on the negative treatment of Puerto Ricans in Cuban American and other Latino writing, leading to the briefest comments on the future of U.S. Puerto Rican culture, literature, and life. With regard to the first matter, I draw on my previously unpublished study of Miguel Barnet’s La vida real (1986), ...


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pp. 145-156


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pp. 157-180


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pp. 181-196

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About the Author, Further Reading, Publication Information

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Marc Zimmerman is Professor of World Cultures and Literatures in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages at the University of Houston. For many years he was professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC). ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780252093494
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252036460

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Latinos in Chicago and the Midwest
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OCLC Number: 785781226
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Defending Their Own in the Cold

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Puerto Ricans -- United States -- Intellectual life.
  • Puerto Ricans -- United States -- Ethnic identity.
  • Puerto Ricans -- United States -- Attitudes.
  • Arts, Puerto Rican -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • Puerto Ricans -- Illinois -- Chicago -- Intellectual life.
  • Puerto Ricans -- Illinois -- Chicago -- Ethnic identity.
  • Puerto Ricans -- Illinois -- Chicago -- Attitudes.
  • Arts, Puerto Rican -- Social asepcts -- Illinois -- Chicago.
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