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America's Colony

The Political and Cultural Conflict between the United States and Puerto Rico

Pedro Malavet

Publication Year: 2004

The precise legal nature of the relationship between the United States and the people of Puerto Rico was not explicitly determined in 1898 when the Treaty of Paris transferred sovereignty over Puerto Rico from Spain to the United States. Since then, many court cases, beginning in 1901, have been instrumental in defining this delicate relationship.

While the legislation has clearly established the nonexistence of Puerto Rican nationhood and lack of independent Puerto Rican citizenship, the debate over Puerto Rico's status continues to this day.

Malavet offers a critique of Puerto Rico’s current status as well as of its treatment by the U.S. legal and political systems. Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States, and Puerto Ricans living on this geographically separate island are subject to the United States’s legal and political authority. They are the largest group of U.S. citizens currently living under territorial status. Malavet argues that the Puerto Rican cultural nation experiences U.S. imperialism, which compromises both the island's sovereignty and Puerto Ricans’ citizenship rights. He analyzes the three alternatives to Puerto Rico's continued territorial status, examining the challenges manifest in each possibility, as well as illuminating what he believes to be the best course of action.

Published by: NYU Press


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p. ix

Gracias (Thanks)

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pp. xi-xiii

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Introduction: Why I Am Here

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pp. 1-14

Puerto Rico is a group of islands bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. The main island is known as Puerto Rico and is joined by adjacent smaller islands that include Vieques, Culebra, Mona, and Monito.1 ...

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1. Race, Culture, Colonialism, Citizenships, and Latina/o Critical Race Theory

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pp. 15-27

In this chapter I try to center the Puerto Rican condition in critical academic discourse as well as in the broader marketplace of ideas. I use Latina and Latino critical race theory (LatCrit theory) to help convey the purpose, importance, and qualifying factors of studying and focusing on the LatCrit theory is . . . discourse that responds primarily to the long his-...

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2. The Legal Relationship between Puerto Rico and the Estados Unidos de Norteam

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pp. 28-48

The legal relationship between the United States of America and Puerto Rico was formed by one colonial power forcibly evicting another. After four hundred years of Spanish colonial rule as the object of the conquista (conquest),1 Puerto Rico and its inhabitants became the spoils of war. ...

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3. Puerto Rican Political Culture

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pp. 49-99

Native-born (puertorrique

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4. Puerto Rican Cultural Nationhood

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pp. 100-116

When the estadounidenses landed on the shores of Guánica Bay on July 25, 1898, they were greeted by the cultural citizens of Puerto Rico, not simply the inhabitants of a distant Spanish outpost. This was reminiscent of the Spaniards being met by the Taino people when they ar-...

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5. Theorizing a New Reality of Citizenship and Nation

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pp. 117-131

Puerto Rican cultural nationalism may conflict with the traditional ideals of individuality and coexistence held by both classical and modern liberalism in their approach to citizenship. The tension arises out of liberalism’s failure to take seriously the problems of nondominant cul-...

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6. A Framework for Legal Reform

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pp. 132-146

This chapter provides an overview of the legal alternatives for a postcolonial Puerto Rico, although for the most part I have chosen to ignore public international law as it might apply to Puerto Rico. The reason is that the international legal regime is totally powerless to enforce...

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7. Conclusion

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pp. 147-161

The United States views Puerto Rico’s cultural and political assertiveness as resistance that must be stopped or controlled. This has resulted in a campaign of cultural and political repression. In the process, independence has been constructed as an unacceptable alternative for the...


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pp. 163-222


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pp. 223-241

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About the Author

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p. 242

Pedro A. Malavet was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico in 1962. He completed his BBA at Emory University in Atlanta in 1984 and his J.D. degree at Georgetown University Law Center in 1987. He clerked for the Honorable Raymond L. Acosta, Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico from 1987 until 1989. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780814764404
E-ISBN-10: 0814764401
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814756805
Print-ISBN-10: 0814756808

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2004

OCLC Number: 233535035
MUSE Marc Record: Download for America's Colony

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Ethnicity -- Puerto Rico.
  • Puerto Rico -- Relations -- United States.
  • United States -- Relations -- Puerto Rico.
  • Self-determination, National -- Puerto Rico.
  • Identity (Psychology) -- Puerto Rico.
  • Puerto Rico -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
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