Quién es el Puertorriqueño: Debates of Race, Class, and Status in Puerto Rican Nationalism

By Isabelle Anderson

Published on July 5, 2024
Volume 9, Issue 2

“Puerto Rico was rich in name and in reality. Our Christian heritage had created a model family and a solid society. The nation was in the vanguard of modern civilizations.”

—Pedro Albizu Campos

“To find its way out of obsolete colonialism [Puerto Rico] does not feel compelled to recur to obsolescent nationalism. It finds itself more compelled to search in its own understanding, and to look to its leaders, for new creative roads.”

—Luis Muñoz Marin

Benedict Anderson famously stated in his seminal work Imagined Communities (1983) that Spanish American Creoles pioneered what we now consider nationalism in the early nineteenth century. Anderson asserted that the tension arising from sharing the same ethnicity as Spanish-born Peninsulares, yet being excluded from the highest social strata of the American colonies, drove Creoles to create the first national communities based on “the shared fatality of trans-Atlantic birth.”[1]

This frustration was exacerbated by the lack of social mobility experienced by Creoles: there was only movement up to the top position of a given territorially bound colony, but no further.[2] By the middle of the nineteenth century, the formation of Creole “imagined communities” culminated in a string of independence movements across South America.[3] Yet until 1898, the Caribbean plantation islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico remained firmly under Spanish colonial rule.[4]

The efforts of Creole nationalists to resist Spanish colonial rule never succeeded in Puerto Rico. Like that of their peers in South America, the political consciousness of Puerto Rican Creoles was spurred by a power struggle with the Spanish-born Peninsulares.[5] However, mid-nineteenth-century Creole liberals in Puerto Rico advocated for a gradual route to independence on account of the island’s economic underdevelopment.[6] Historian Juan Carrion points out that because of Puerto Rico’s colonially dependent plantation economy—along with Spain’s usage of the island as a military base against South American independence movements—these early Creole nationalists never gained enough power to threaten Spanish rule.[7] Following Spain’s loss in the Spanish-American War in 1898, Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States of America. Almost instantly, a new kind of nationalism began to emerge in response to the threat of American rule. Initially, the working and peasant classes of Puerto Rico welcomed American influence. These lower classes predominantly descended from the island’s indigenous Taino people or from African slaves, with the continuation of Spanish racial hierarchies having determined their lower status in society.[8] In contrast, rule by the United States seemed to promise a new racial egalitarianism to which many flocked. In response to the American threat to their power, Creole nationalists adopted a conservative rhetoric that now valorized the Hispanic heritage by which they had previously felt subjugated.[9] While subsequent developments and varying movements in Puerto Rican nationalism often diverged from this initial political reaction, it carries influence even today.[10]

The following pages will explore the processes of national identity formation and the complicated goals of the Puerto Rican nationalist project, centering on the movement’s most historically relevant period from the 1930s to the 1950s. Beginning with the founding of the Partido Nacionalista (Nationalist Party, or PN) and the Partido Popular Democratico (Popular Democratic Party, or PPD), this article will examine the two parties’ contrasting and converging views. The PN was founded in 1922 as a direct descendant of anti-American Creole nationalism: its members advocated for the Hispanicization of the island through the Spanish language and Catholicism, followed by complete independence from the United States.[11] The party’s most active period manifested under the leadership of Pedro Albizu Campos, a mixed-race Harvard graduate radicalized through his experiences of racism in the American army during World War I.[12] Sixteen years later, in 1938, the PPD was formed. The significance of this founding in Puerto Rican politics, from its founding to the present day, makes it the catalyst for this article. Sporting the slogan “bread, land, and liberty,” the PPD presented itself as an opponent to American sugar corporations and as a supporter of the working class. Yet its founder Luis Muñoz Marin welcomed American rule.[13] I will argue that despite their often contradicting politics, both Campos’s and Marin’s political platforms demonstrate consistent facets of Puerto Rican nationalism from the onset of American rule to today.

Literature Review

Understanding Race and Class in Puerto Rican Nationalism

Two important theorists of nationalism in a broad context are Ernest Gellner and John Hutchinson. Gellner’s and Hutchinson’s works highlight two elements that typically characterize nationalist movements: the role of modernization and the myth of the common man. In the context of Puerto Rico, with a nationalist tradition informed by the mythologization of the island’s agrarian and Hispanic history, Gellner’s and Hutchinson’s frameworks are therefore relevant due to their emphasis on national mythologies. Gellner argues that nationalism emerged in nineteenth-century Western Europe because of the transition from agrarian to industrialized societies, during which the promises of increased social mobility and egalitarianism through capitalism prompted a discarding of feudal, hierarchical social roles.[14] Nationalism thus emerged among European intellectuals in the early nineteenth century as a solution to the instability of human affairs in its promise of a universal “high culture” that “resurrects” a unifying national tradition from the past through the creation of a territorial nation-state.[15] This “high culture” often relies on a “folk culture” of the common man, a theme also picked up in Hutchinson’s work.[16] Hutchinson argues that the young, educated classes of nineteenth-century Europe idealized the peasant class as the “custodians of the nation’s continuity” during the turbulent transition to modernity.[17] Despite this role theoretically afforded to the peasant class, this class of disillusioned young people is characterized by Hutchinson as exclusionary to the very people they idealized: “[Nationalists] were outsiders to the societies they wished to transform. . . . [They] sometimes saw themselves as not so much reviving an old as forging a new nation.”[18] This tension between “reviving” a folk tradition and the creation of a new nation through the philosophy of the educated also exists in the scholarship of Puerto Rican history.

Returning to the “Creole pioneers,” Anderson notes that Creole-led nationalism was inherently exclusive on the basis of race and class. As he puts it, “one key factor initially spurring the drive for independence from Madrid . . . was the fear of ‘lower-class’ political mobilizations: to wit, Indian or Negro-slave uprisings.”[19] The contradiction of the exclusionary Creoles speaking for an entire nation is a pattern also noted in scholarship on Puerto Rican nationalism and race. In a parallel to Hutchinson’s work, Creole nationalism in Puerto Rico emerged largely through the valorization of el jibaro, the prototypical agricultural peasant who existed outside of the industrialization instigated by American rule.[20] Specifically, debates over the racial identity of el jibaro are prominent in scholarly debates over defining el Puertorriqueño, or the “essence” of Puerto Rican society. Historian Marta Cruz-Jansen argues that “jibaros are considered the only true Puerto Ricans, representatives of the vast racial mixing that is the majority of Puerto Rican society.”[21] Similarly, historian Milagro Denis-Rosario finds that the jibaro was valorized by early nationalist movements attempting to create a uniform national identity.[22] To Denis-Rosario, however, nineteenth-century Creole intellectuals defined this exclusively as a white peasant. Ileana Rodriguez-Silva similarly argues in her book Silencing Race that the jibaro was exclusively white and used by Creoles to create a distinctly Hispanic identity for Puerto Rico.[23] As the mythical figurehead of national identity, the jibaro and the scholarly debates over his identification highlight the complicated relationship between Puerto Rican nationalism and race.

Scholars have similarly examined the role of race when discussing the transition from Spanish to American rule of Puerto Rico. In the 1901 Foraker Act, existing Spanish laws were upheld in the newly formed civil government of Puerto Rico unless they contradicted the new American-inspired leadership structure.[24] Due to the dual Spanish and American character of the nascent government, it was possible for the existing Creole political elites to take advantage of this new government to maintain their political power while appealing to supposed American egalitarianism.[25] Denis-Rosario contends that while Spanish and American rule differed in method, Creole intellectuals sought to define national identity through Spanish traits to convince their new rulers of their whiteness.[26] Rodriguez-Silva similarly argues that as the United States painted its new imperial subjects as a racialized “other,” Creole elites pushed for a white national identity to maintain their power.[27] However, Rodriguez-Silva also acknowledges that this power struggle often required the Creole elites to claim to represent the “multiracial working class” that constituted the masses of the island.[28] In the essay collection Puerto Rican Jam: Rethinking Colonialism and Nationalism, Ramon Grosfoguel, Frances Negron-Muntaner, and Chloe S. Georas add to this by suggesting that early Creole appeals to American leaders equated the myth of Puerto Rican racial harmony to American liberal democracy.[29] In sum, the first decade of American rule in Puerto Rico represented a continuation of the Creole power struggle that fleetingly attempted to represent Puerto Rico’s multi-racial society.

Despite this historical evidence of a Hispanic-dominated Puerto Rican identity, an analysis of Puerto Rican nationalism inclusive of race and class remains to be fully elaborated. It is most frequently the case that historians tie class analysis alone to nationalism. Rafael Ramirez notes that Puerto Rican national culture was heavily influenced by traditional Hispanic traits such as Catholicism, the Spanish language, and “docility.”[30] This assumption of a uniform national culture entirely excluded the historical divisions of class inherent in Puerto Rican society.[31] Consequently, Puerto Rican nationalism first emerged as “unable to understand the increasing proletarianization of Puerto Rican society and the conflicting interests . . . and values in the classes which compose Puerto Rican society.”[32] Juan Carrion similarly notes that the mainstream nationalist movement was “socially conservative” with a “bourgeois character of its leadership.”[33] Further, in regard to the initial years of anti-American Puerto Rican nationalism, Negron-Muntaner points out that “it did not sit well with the workers that some of the most prominent leaders of the pro-autonomy party (Unionista) openly vented their animosity towards organized labor in Puerto Rico.”[34] Thus, discussions of Puerto Rican nationalism are most often tied to the ostracization of the working classes from the nationalist project. However, I argue that with the aforementioned history of racial exclusion inherent in Creole nationalism, class and race must be understood as entangled elements of Puerto Rican national identity that cannot be understood separately.

While it is fair to say that the Creoles—as Spanish-descended and well-educated— constituted both a race and a class, it is difficult to establish as clear a corollary between multiracial Puerto Rican identity and working-class solidarity as national consciousness emerged tumultuously over the course of the first half of the twentieth century. Rather, as nationalist politics began to embrace concerns over the economic impact of American rule, it was often the case that racial divisions were blurred in favor of class-conscious politics. In their book Puerto Rico in the American Century, Cesar Ayala and Rafael Bernabe argue that the 1930s represented a “turning point” in the upsurge of radically anti-capitalist politics infusing island nationalism.[35] Emilio Pantojas-Garcia attributes this turning point to the growing disillusionment in the 1930s of the bourgeoisie and working classes of the island alike towards the sugar corporations that dominated Puerto Rico’s economy.[36] Unified in their concern over the island’s economic uncertainty as the Great Depression set in, new nationalist sentiments grew among Puerto Ricans across class lines.[37] However, Ramirez believes that because this new generation still relied on “Hispanic” traits in opposition to American culture, young Puerto Ricans continued to lack truly racially inclusive politics.[38] Similarly, in his study of radical politics in Puerto Rico, Carlos Alamo-Pastrana highlights several social studies conducted by the U.S. government in the 1950s that revealed the prevalence of racism in working-class island communities—a racism that leftist leaders denied and subsequently ignored.[39] There is therefore an unresolved historiographical tension regarding the alleged growing inclusivity of Puerto Rican nationalist politics.

The Question of Status in Puerto Rican Nationalism

With an understanding of how scholars conceptualize the Puerto Rican people and their nationalist tradition, we may now return to how the nationalists articulated the demands of their project. In their work on Puerto Rican nationalism, Andre Lecours and Valerie Vezina make the striking claim that divisions between the island’s political parties historically formed based on the island’s geopolitical status rather than ideology.[40] These statuses have been nearly uniformly defined by scholars as either full independence or full integration into the United States of America. Lecours and Vezina describe the pro-independence faction as distinctly anti-colonial yet limited by the desire of many Puerto Ricans to retain the benefits of American citizenship.[41] On the other hand, they define the pro-statehood faction as seeking an extension of their rights as Americans through complete integration into the union.[42] This argument is strengthened by the statehooders’ advocacy for the benefits of American capital for the poor, while being limited by worries of losing the distinct “Puertorriqueño,” or “essence,” of Puerto Rican society through full integration.[43]

The previous scholars mentioned in this literature review are generally in agreement with Lecours and Vezina’s characterization of these two sides of Puerto Rican nationalism. Grosfoguel, Negron-Muntaner, and Georas highlight the attractiveness of the statehood option to poor and working-class Puerto Ricans, who perceive a relatively higher chance of prosperity through American capitalism than through full independence.[44] Further, they highlight the historic alliance of poor peasants in Puerto Rico with the American elite. Despite being placed in oppressive labor conditions under American leadership, workers were prone to view Creole elites as the true enemy—especially in the early twentieth century as the ghost of the Spanish empire still loomed.[45] Alamo-Pastrana similarly subscribes to Lecours and Vezina’s depiction of pro-independence nationalism, highlighting its distinctly anti-colonial character in the 1930s. Alamo-Pastrana argued that the movement held the “strong belief that the Puerto Rican people needed to capture their independence rather than wait for it to be granted to them by colonial patronage.”[46] Finally, Carrion echoes the concern of pro-statehooders to the erosion of “el Puertorriqueño.”[47]

None of these authors offers examples of the pro-independence faction successfully appealing to Black and working-class Puerto Ricans throughout the American rule period, again demonstrating the validity of previously mentioned scholars’ critiques of the racial exclusions inherent in Puerto Rican identity formation. The scholarly conclusion to this predicament is that despite its increasingly class-conscious understanding of the imperial relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States, the pro-independence faction has continued to be the political realm of the well-educated, Hispanic-descended classes. Further, Alamo-Pastrana highlights that because Creole nationalism has historically excluded Black Puerto Ricans, it was not uncommon for this population to instead seek solidarity with Black Americans and their anti-racist movements as opposed to the Puerto Rican nation-state project.[48]

Nationalism without a Nation-State?

With the pro-independence and pro-statehood factions of the Puerto Rican nationalist movement defined, we may turn to how scholars have understood Puerto Rican nationalism to exist without the express goal of an independent nation-state. The critical point of convergence between the pro-statehood and pro-independence factions is their insistence on a distinct Puerto Rican identity. As previously stated by Denis-Rosario and Rodriguez-Silva, this hegemonic identity was first elaborated by Creole nationalists as “el Puertorriqueño,” a Hispanicized community “proving” their whiteness to Americans. Further, Rodriguez-Silva points out that as the pro-statehood and pro-independence positions developed during the American epoch, both relied on the “moral uplift and sanitizing” of the working class toward the goal of national hegemony.[49] It is with this hegemony that the pro-independence faction imagined the nation-state, while the pro-statehood faction worked towards the goal of entering the Union by sanitizing its most rebellious populations.[50]

Yet, despite these similarities, do the pro-statehood “nationalists” truly constitute one of Anderson’s “imagined communities”? Lecours and Vezina, along with the Puerto Rican Jam essay collection, attempt to answer this question. First, these authors touch on the importance of maintaining a distinct Puerto Rican national identity among statehooders. In their work, Lecours and Vezina argue that the Puerto Rican identity imagined by both pro-independence and pro-statehood activists is anchored in the Spanish language, with one statehooder going as far as to say, “We are not going to renounce our Spanish for anything in the world, ever.”[51] Indeed, Hutchinson finds that while cultural nationalists emphasize the project of “reviving” a national culture through a shared language, their movements are not bound by the specific end goal of the nation-state; rather, they seek to “revive” national identity continuously throughout a nation’s history, even if the nation-state is already established.[52] Yet Hutchinson’s notion that language “revivalism” often emerges as a result of imperial assimilation does not hold true in Puerto Rico, as attempts to mandate the English language and assimilate Puerto Ricans to American culture were abandoned less than ten years after the United States took over.[53] It is therefore unclear whether a distinct linguistic community is enough, in the case of pro-statehood Puerto Rican activists, for them to claim themselves to be nationalists.

On this note, Gellner would argue that every “high culture” like “la Puertorriquenidad” seeks its own autonomous state.[54] However, scholars of Puerto Rican nationalism believe otherwise. Lecours and Vezina argue that pro-statehood activists claim to uphold “el Puertorriqueño” through statehood, as “becoming a constituent state of a federation is completely coherent with this Puertorriquenisimo because it would mean that Puerto Rico would finally exercise its right to self-determination.”[55] Grosfoguel, Negron-Muntaner, and Georas similarly argue that the imagining of a distinct community that can be politically represented constitutes a nationalist tradition.[56] Ultimately, scholars of the “statehooder” platform emphasize its validity as a type of nationalism because of its emphasis on the autonomy of Puerto Rican identity that statehood would manifest.

Remaining Ambiguities and Paths Forward

Existing literature on Puerto Rican nationalism has attempted to address the racial contours of national identity (“el Puertorriqueño”), class consciousness in nationalist movements, and the question of statehood as a nationalist goal. With these key concepts in mind, the remaining ambiguities may be addressed through the example of Puerto Rican nationalism in the mid-twentieth century. Specifically, how did the two distinct political parties of this time—the Partido Popular Democratica and Partido Nacionalista—reckon with the legacy of racially exclusive Creole politics and imagine paths forward for Puerto Rican nationalism? How might class consciousness have served as a useful versus limiting vehicle for nationalist movements? Finally, as the PPD and PN moved towards separate goals of statehood versus full independence, how did both imagine themselves to be nationalist? The following section will attempt to answer these questions using the speeches and public appeals of Pedro Albizu Campos and Luis Muñoz Marin during their respective careers as nationalist politicians.


In 1952, Luis Muñoz Marin became the first democratically elected governor of Puerto Rico. As the guiding light of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), Marin symbolized to many in both Puerto Rico and the United States a new era of democracy and prosperity.[57] Barely two years before this, Pedro Albizu Campos, founding member and president of the Nationalist Party, helped orchestrate a violent rebellion against American rule that culminated in gunfire by Puerto Rican radicals in the U.S. Congress chambers.[58] Both Marin and Campos had the privilege of attending elite universities on the U.S. mainland, yet they were in complete opposition regarding the status of Puerto Rico. Further, both emerged as political leaders due to growing unrest in Puerto Rico in the early 1930s when the Great Depression sank the island’s economy, with its dependence on American sugar corporations painfully evident at the time.[59] Tracing these men's political careers is an effective way to assess the continuities and changes from earlier, Creole-led anti-American nationalism in Puerto Rico.

Luis Muñoz Marin: Progressive or Pawn?

Luis Muñoz Marin was the son of Luis Muñoz Rivera, one of the founding intellectuals of anti-Spanish Creole nationalism in the late nineteenth century.[60] He lived an early life of privilege, choosing to study poetry at Georgetown University before entering Puerto Rican politics in the 1920s, with his father’s legacy propelling him to rapid success.[61] Marin began his career as a socialist, influenced by the Russian Revolution and Puerto Rican agrarian-populist authors.[62] As his career grew, he gradually moderated his views but still maintained strong working-class sympathies. As Ayala and Bernabe explain, he saw himself as “a privileged interpreter of the longings of a downtrodden, exploited rural worker.”[63] Marin’s career culminated in the formation of the Partido Popular Democratico, a progressive faction that broke from the island’s Liberal Party in 1938.[64] In line with Marin’s socialist background, the PPD’s primary tenet was to oppose the exploitation of the Puerto Rican working class by American sugar corporations.[65] With a pragmatic understanding of both this class-based unrest and the traditionally exclusionary politics of pro-independence nationalists, Marin’s party charted a middle ground: the PPD attained working-class support by opposing the sugar oligarchy while maintaining ties with both the United States and non-white Puerto Ricans, uniting two vastly different groups through their opposition to a radical independence movement.[66]

Marin’s identity as a nationalist may therefore seem questionable based on his pro-American politics. However, an analysis of Marin’s politics alongside his own appeals to the people of Puerto Rico situates him as a clear predecessor of the statehood nationalist faction. In a speech he frequently used while campaigning for the PPD between 1938 and 1940, Marin characteristically balanced working-class solidarity with appeals to the benefits of American democracy. He concisely laid out the party’s public image as follows: “The Popular Democratic Party is the people's party. The PPD is not interested in profits, material gain, political positions nor titles, but in the welfare of the poor and suffering classes of our island.”[67] In a call to the powerful national image of el jibaro, he then stated, “Remember, that the insignia of the Popular Democratic Party is not that of any animal or bird, but the woeful countenance of the Puerto Rican countryman wearing the laborer’s hat.”[68] These claims were presented alongside a denunciation of the status question: “Your vote in these elections has nothing to do with either independence or statehood. It only deals with the injustices that you have suffered under all other political parties and political party coalitions.”[69] Instead, Marin called for the Puerto Rican people to use their vote as the guiding principles of the American constitution intended: “In a democracy, the power of the people lies in free and honest votes. Voting makes Government.”[70] This emphasis on locally held power and the uplift of the struggling Puerto Rican countryman allowed Marin to appear both as a proponent of a specific Puerto Rican identity and as a hero of the working class, just as statehood activists would do decades in the future. Evidently, the rhetoric of foregoing the question of the island’s geopolitical status for the purpose of addressing more immediate social woes worked, as, in their first election cycle in 1940, the PPD gained a majority in the Puerto Rican Congress.[71]

In his subsequent career as the first elected governor of Puerto Rico, Marin maintained a similar balancing act between working-class solidarity and pro-Americanism. His inauguration speech in 1952 exemplified this platform, as in it he directly denounced the “obsolescent” nationalism of Campos and his contemporaries.[72] He made the striking claim that “Puerto Rico, seemingly a colony, in a deeper sense is not one; and, able to be a nation in a narrow sense, has neither great objections to, nor great preoccupations about, being one.”[73] One could argue from this speech that Marin was pandering to Americans by outright denying the concrete existence of a Puerto Rican nation. Indeed, this is an argument Pantojas-Garcia notes has been popularly taken up by modern Puerto Rican leftists.[74] Further, in their text on decolonial nationalism, Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper argue that it was colonial elites such as Marin who helped legitimize imperial rule by often demonstrating a performative form of self-determination.[75]

Yet this inauguration speech and others given during Marin’s governorship illuminate his belief in a distinct Puerto Rican identity—one that seemed to echo Grosfoguel, Negron-Muntaner, and Georas’s notion of a Puerto Rican “ethno-nation” as a valid nationalist conception. In this interpretation, Marin denied the need for a Puerto Rican nation-state not because he was pandering to the United States, but rather to suggest that Puerto Rican national identity transcended the nation-state and existed democratically through its own distinct culture.[76] In a speech given in 1953 regarding the “personalidad Puertorriqueño” under the island’s new “Free Associated State” status, he reinforced this notion by stating the following: “We have deliberately adopted for membership in the grand Western civilization, inside which we maintain our internal culture and enrich each other mutually.”[77]According to Marin, this “internal” culture was composed of “serene” attitude, strong work ethic, “religious feeling,” and, of course, the Spanish language.[78] In regards to language, Marin then stated that it is ideal for Puerto Ricans to know both English and Spanish. Language, Marin argued, is the “spirit with which we breathe,” and islanders should be proud to be bilingual citizens of the United States of America.[79] Marin further promoted American influence in the same 1953 speech, stating that it has brought the island “superior economic, technological, and administrative technologies.”[80] This appeal to mixing of national cultures is reminiscent of Hutchinson’s point that cultural nationalism—as opposed to territorial nationalism—often valorizes the “mutual borrowing of cultures” that occurs across the world.[81] In this interpretation, the mutual borrowing and taking of different cultural elements presented an idealistic view of cultural difference—especially across two entities such as the United States and Puerto Rico, where the power imbalance territorially and economically may otherwise be painted as oppressive.[82]

Marin’s argument for the maintenance of Puerto Rican culture was therefore a commendation of the Western civilization that Puerto Rico resides soundly, yet autonomously, within.[83] Although Marin was an advocate for the “Free Associated State” status, this argument of distinct culture within American society mirrors present-day pro-statehood arguments. If we adhere to this classification as well as Hutchinson’s notion of cultural nationalism, Marin fits the bill of a Puerto Rican nationalist in his own distinct manner. In naming Marin as a nationalist, he does not inherently become more radical in the context of this article. Rather, his position at the intersection of continued colonial rule and increased Puerto Rican autonomy demonstrates how nationalist rhetoric may serve as a force of both conservatism and progress. As a self-positioned hero of the multi-racial peasants of Puerto Rico, Marin effectively mediated the conflict between American capitalist ambition and the islanders it oppressed through the politics of cultural rather than territorial nationalism. This tension between conservatism and progress is similarly evident in the case of self-proclaimed nationalist Pedro Albizu Campos.

Pedro Albizu Campos: Radical or Regressive?

Pedro Albizu Campos was born poor to a mother of African ancestry but worked diligently to attend a private high school typically for wealthy, white Puerto Ricans. He then attended Harvard University, gaining the distinction of being the school’s first Puerto Rican graduate in 1917.[84] Campos then volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army in World War I, which, as historian Harry Franqui-Rivera points out, was a critical moment for the racialization of Puerto Rican subjects by Americans, as many islanders of mixed-race status were deemed “Negro” and subject to demeaning racial stereotypes regarding their cleanliness and intelligence.[85] Although Puerto Ricans had been granted citizenship in 1917, when Campos joined the army that same year, the racism he experienced served as an impetus for his future career as a nationalist revolutionary.[86] Upon returning to Puerto Rico in 1924, Campos joined the Partido Nacionalista de Puerto Rico and worked his way up to the rank of party president through his strong oration skills and an “unquenchable fervor” for independence.[87] While the PN existed before Campos’s membership, he contributed an especially aggressive strand of politics that openly challenged American leadership and culminated in multiple armed rebellions and assassination attempts.[88]

Campos’s radical style of politics made him a deeply polarizing figure. On one hand, under him, the PN was openly anti-imperialist and thus opposed to American capitalism. Most famously, he used his legal expertise to lead and win a strike of Puerto Rican sugar workers against an American corporation in 1934, making him a hero in the eyes of many working-class islanders.[89] That same year, Campos gave a speech on the anniversary of a famed 1868 Puerto Rican peasant uprising against Spanish rule in which he criticized the United States government and corrupt Puerto Rican politicians for leading the country through bribery and oligarchy rather than by the will of the Puerto Rican people.[90] In that speech, he highlighted that the “Creole imaginary” of the Puerto Rican peasants as passive had perpetuated their impoverishment while the island’s political leaders remained complicit in American imperialism.[91] In 1936, Campos maintained that Puerto Rico’s land and people were capable of great prosperity independently, blaming American rule for being entirely responsible for the nation’s poverty.[92] He noted that, at the time, Puerto Rico was the United States’s second-largest market in the Western hemisphere and its sixth-largest in the world, demonstrating the island’s significant influence on America’s economy, despite the islanders themselves not sharing in the profits.[93] By situating the United States as the root of Puerto Rican poverty, Campos’s form of nationalism, therefore, clearly expressed how full independence was the necessary end goal. His condemnation of both American and Puerto Rican capitalistic predation on the island won Campos support in the early-to-mid 1930s from the organized proletariats.[94]

Furthermore, Campos’s politics were distinct from the early twentieth-century iteration of Creole anti-American nationalism, as he condemned American racism rather than attempting to assimilate into it. As he stated in a 1936 speech given to PN followers, “the postulate of national unity that informs the North American Constitution has determined the invariable rule that no territory shall be admitted as a state until the Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-Celtic elements have obtained definitive ascendancy.”[95] In this comparison to other American territories admitted into the union as a state, Campos recognized that Puerto Rico’s status as a perpetual colony was uniquely informed by white supremacy. Similarly, in a striking condemnation of American anti-Black racism and its connection to Puerto Rico’s own subjugation, he highlighted that “although [the United States] claim[s] to represent all black and brown peoples no black can enter nor anyone suspect of having a black great-grandfather.”[96] Campos was therefore not only aware of the unique oppression faced by Puerto Rico as an American colony but also how racism had long informed all facets of American culture and politics. Even outside of the American context, Campos was known to express solidarity with anti-colonial nationalist movements in Korea and Africa, demonstrating a radical commitment to anti-racism and decolonization that transcended individual culture.[97]

On the other hand, Campos’s adherence to anti-Americanism as the core of his politics reinforced the Creole idealization of Spanish society, despite Campos not being Creole himself. Perhaps the most glaring instance of this is the paradox between the previous quotation on American racism and his depiction of how race was perceived in Puerto Rico in the same speech, where he stated, “Puerto Rico is the most perfect nationality in the New World. It is a true social unity. Despite being made up of nearly 70% Spanish blood, Catholicism has destroyed every deep racial division.”[98] The assumption of a “perfect nationality” with “true social unity” harkened back to Creole myths of racial harmony in Puerto Rico, in which the dominant social class attempted to present a non-existent unity to maintain their power. In the context of the PN, the mission was not maintaining political power, yet Campos and followers did ostracize much of Puerto Rico’s mixed-race masses through their assumption that their predominantly Creole-descended bourgeoisie movement could accurately represent their interests.[99] As Ramirez points out, despite Campos’s ability to recognize the racism inherent in the American imperial project, his rhetoric omitted how four centuries of colonial oppression had shaped inequality in Puerto Rican society outside of the American context.[100] While it would be reductive to say that Campos himself, as the child of a poor mixed-race mother, had no understanding of the racialized dynamics of Puerto Rican society, his politics as an anti-American nationalist ultimately contributed to the idolization of a Hispanized nation that he himself could not even claim as his heritage.

Campos also contributed to social conservatism through his paradoxical position on working-class politics and socialism. Despite favoring labor unions and state ownership of public services, the PN remained opposed to complete socialism.[101] Instead, Campos’s party wanted to establish a republic predominantly led by the “traditional petty bourgeoisie and other small proprietors.”[102] To Campos and members of the PN, this vision would rightfully place administrative and economic power in the hands of the Puerto Rican people. However, to many leftists and socialists on the island, this vision appeared more paternalistic to the working class than liberatory, resulting in the fragile alliance between the PN and socialist revolutionaries to erode by the 1940s.[103] As Alamo-Pastrana points out, Campos also held a strong Catholic faith that added to the PN’s social conservatism.[104] Campos famously promoted “traditional” family roles as elaborated under Catholic Spanish rule.[105] This is perhaps most obvious in a similar 1936 speech, where Campos criticized the United States for attempting to destroy the “Hispanic civilization” of Puerto Rico and its “Christian social order” by bringing birth control and increased sanitary services to the island.[106] Campos’s deep religious conservatism would eventually lead to his ostracization from both Puerto Rican intellectuals and poor families, who found his politics regressive in their treatment of women and working-class islanders who did not fit his mold of the idealized struggling peasant.[107]

In 1950, as Puerto Rico entered its new “Free Associated State” status, Campos remained adamant in his views: he condemned the new status as perpetuating racial segregation between Americans and Black and Brown Puerto Ricans while still harkening back to an idealized Spanish society being threatened by continued American rule.[108] Ultimately, Campos’s following constituted an odd mix of a landowning Creole class fantasizing a return to Spanish colonial society and peasants suffering from the influence of American corporations. These internal tensions—recognizing one racism while ignoring another, supporting leftist labor politics but condemning progressive social change—would never be resolved. The PN would fall into obscurity by the 1950s as Marin’s government and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation worked to censor pro-independence sentiment.[109]

Conclusion: Unresolved Legacies

Arguably, upon examining Marin and Campos’s rhetoric alongside scholars of nationalism and Puerto Rican identity, both men can be roughly titled nationalists. Campos, both a self-proclaimed nationalist and clear advocate of a distinct Puerto Rican ethno-religious identity in need of its own nation-state, is most easily classifiable. While not a “Creole pioneer” himself, he, in many respects, took up the mantle of this project by following a racial and social conservatism that ostracized him from many non-Creole and working-class people on the island. Yet, Gellner would instruct us that nationalism is often an inherently conservative project in its adherence to “reviving” a national identity and perpetuating its traditions through an all-encompassing high culture.[110] Marin, on the other hand, may belong in the realm of Puerto Rican Jam’s conception of an “ethno-nation” of Puerto Rico that is nonetheless a nationalist project in its proclamation of a distinct national culture worthy of self-determination.[111] Furthermore, as the nation’s first democratically elected leader, Marin aptly fits Hutchinson’s notion that cultural nationalists worked to reinforce national identity in periods of tumultuous modernization.[112]

It is, of course, too simplistic to assume that Campos’s Partido Nacionalista was completely representative of all independence sentiments on the island, or that Marin’s Partido Popular Democratico represented all non-independence populations. As evidenced by the discussion of their speeches, both leaders utilized highly moralized and politically targeted rhetoric that would leave them with more nuanced legacies than these absolutist categories. The questions posed as subtitles in this section—“progressive or pawn,” “radical or regressive”—are representative of contemporary debates over Marin and Campos’s contributions to Puerto Rican politics. Through this discussion, I do not hope to resolve definitively any of these dissonances in these men’s politics and followings. Rather, the incongruences in both men’s rhetoric serve to further the conclusions of authors of nationalist theory and Puerto Rican identity—that a nation is not naturally made, it is imagined and reinforced through politics that are inherently inconsistent and tumultuous. Under Luis Muñoz Marin, the PPD enjoyed broad success across race and class in Puerto Rico. However, from its founding until today, the party has continued to receive criticism for not addressing working-class needs through politics more radical than maintaining the “Free Liberated State” status quo.[113] Campos’s politics have garnered somewhat of a more positive legacy in the past two decades, but the glaring fact of his Catholic conservatism is consistently noted by feminist scholars of Puerto Rican history.[114]

 Puerto Rican national identity is fraught with contradictions of race, class, and status, yet it is clear from the history of its nationalist movements that islanders do believe this national identity to exist, nonetheless. Whether this unity comes from Spanish, Catholicism, or some other element, the importance of defining said national identity has been at the heart of Puerto Rico’s politics since American rule began. Across the spectrum of positions on status, island activists and politicians have continually emphasized that Puerto Rico contains a distinct culture deserving of preservation amid foreign influence and rule. The rhetoric of nationalism has served to bolster both anti-racist and anti-capitalist politics and the continuation of colonial, landowning power, thus demonstrating that nationalism is not necessarily a vehicle of progress. Rather, the intersections of race and class in Puerto Rican society demonstrate that the pursuit of an autonomous culture and/or nation-state constitutes an inherently tumultuous process of identity formation.

Further Avenues of Research

For a more expansive research project, there are two avenues that I believe would be fruitful in further understanding Puerto Rican nationalism. First, as briefly touched on in the final paragraphs of the discussion section, feminist scholars find the conservatism of Campos’s movement to be fundamental to understanding Puerto Rican national identity. As Laura Briggs has expertly demonstrated with her book Reproducing Empire, there is a long history of reproductive rights violations in Puerto Rico under American rule that have been at the center of discussions of national identity and status.[115] Adding this gendered layer of intersectionality to my discussion of race and class is a scholarly discussion that I hope will develop as a result of the publication of my research. In my honors thesis at Amherst College in the upcoming academic year, I plan to contribute to this discussion by examining the historical intersection of nationalism and reproductive justice in Puerto Rico.

Second, there is the role of the Puerto Rican diaspora on the American mainland, which as of today represents about 60 percent of all eight million Puerto Ricans in the United States, mainland and island.[116] An interesting argument made by Lecours and Vezina in their assessment of Puerto Rican nationalism is that the fact of Puerto Rico being an island contributes greatly to sentiments of national belonging.[117] And yet the Puerto Rican community in the mainland United States also professes a great sense of national identity.[118] Therefore, another beneficial expansion of this research would be to assess how an ethno-linguistic-religious community living outside of the territorial “imagined community” perceives the question of national identity.

In sum, a more expansive research project would assess how Puerto Rican communities with distinct identity elements outside of race and class have grappled with the question of national belonging. Puerto Rico is a vital case study for historians of nationalism, as it problematizes the notion that nationalism is dependent on the goal of a sovereign nation-state. Further, due to the various intersections of race, class, gender, and diaspora it presents, understanding the progression of Puerto Rican nationalist sentiment under American rule forces us to question the ability of nation-state formation to make for these often-convergent elements of identity.


Primary Sources

Campos, Pedro Albizu. Habla Albizu Campos. New York: Paredon Records, 1971.

———. “Our Political Status,” 1936. Marxists Internet Archive, accessed December 13, 2023.

———. “Proclama Sobre El Aniversario de La Revolucion de Lares Partido Nacionalista,” 1934. In Claridad, 2008.

———. “Puerto Rican Nationalism,” 1936. Marxists Internet Archive, accessed December 13, 2023.

Marin, Luis Muñoz. “Inaugural Address of the First Elected Governor of Puerto Rico.” Service Office of the Government of Puerto Rico, 1949.

———. “La Personalidad Puertorriquena en el Estado Libre Asociado,” December 29, 1953. Courtesy of Rutgers University.

———. “Luis Muñoz Marin’s Campaign Stump Speech, 1938-1940.” Advances in the History of Rhetoric 10, no. 1 (2007): 282–89.

Secondary Sources

Alamo-Pastrana, Carlos. Seams of Empire: Race and Radicalism in Puerto Rico and the United States. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2016.

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Revised edition. London: Verso, 2016.

Ayala, Cesar J. “Puerto Rico and Its Diaspora.” UCLA Latin American Institute, October 27, 2021.

Ayala, César J., and Rafael Bernabe. Puerto Rico in the American Century: A History since 1898. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007.

Briggs, Laura. Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science, and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

Burbank, Jane, and Frederick Cooper. Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2021.

Carrión, Juan Manuel. “Puerto Rican Nationalism and the Struggle for Independence.” In The National Question: Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Self-Determination in the Twentieth Century, edited by Berch Berberoglu, 133–57. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995.

Cruz-Janzen, Marta I. “Out of the Closet: Racial Amnesia, Avoidance, and Denial - Racism among Puerto Ricans.” Race, Gender & Class 10, no. 3 (2003): 64–81.

Denis-Rosario, Milagros. “The Perpetual Colony: Historical Memory and Inequalities in Puerto Rican Society.” In (Post-)Colonial Archipelagos: Comparing the Legacies of Spanish Colonialism in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, edited by Hans-Jürgen Burchardt and Johanna Leinius, 202–23. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2022.

Díaz, Jaquira. “Let Puerto Rico Be Free.” The Atlantic, September 20, 2022.

Florido, Adrian. “In Puerto Rico, Young Voters Are Trying to Shake Up Traditional Party Politics.” NPR, November 2, 2020, sec. Elections.

Franqui-Rivera, Harry. Soldiers of the Nation: Military Service and Modern Puerto Rico, 1868-1952. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2018.

Gellner, Ernest. Nations and Nationalism (New Perspectives on the Past). 2nd ed. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009.

Hutchinson, John. “Cultural Nationalism.” In The Oxford Handbook of the History of Nationalism, 75–92. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Lecours, André, and Valérie Vézina. “The Politics of Nationalism and Status in Puerto Rico.” Canadian Journal of Political Science / Revue Canadienne de Science Politique 50, no. 4 (2017): 1083–1101.

Negrón-Muntaner, Frances, and Ramón Grosfoguel, eds. Puerto Rican Jam: Rethinking Colonialism and Nationalism. NED-New edition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997.

Pantojas-Garcia, Emilio. “Puerto Rican Populism Revisited: The PPD during the 1940s.” Journal of Latin American Studies 21, no. 3 (1989): 521–57.

Ramirez, Rafael L. “National Culture in Puerto Rico.” Latin American Perspectives 3, no. 3 (1976): 109–16.

Rodríguez-Silva, Ileana M. Silencing Race: Disentangling Blackness, Colonialism, and National Identities in Puerto Rico. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Villanueva, Victor. “Colonial Memory and the Crime of Rhetoric: Pedro Albizu Campos.” College English 71, no. 6 (2009): 630–38.


[1] Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, Revised edition (London: Verso, 2016), 57.

[2] Anderson, 57.

[3] Anderson, 58.

[4] Jane Burbank and Frederick Cooper, Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2021), 247

[5] Juan Manuel Carrión, “Puerto Rican Nationalism and the Struggle for Independence,” in The National Question: Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Self-Determination in the Twentieth Century, ed. Berch Berberoglu (Temple University Press, 1995), 133.

[6] Carrión, “Puerto Rican Nationalism and the Struggle for Independence,” 136.

[7] Carrión,“Puerto Rican Nationalism and the Struggle for Independence,” 134.

[8] César J. Ayala and Rafael Bernabe, Puerto Rico in the American Century: A History since 1898 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007), 54.

[9] Frances Negrón-Muntaner and Ramón Grosfoguel, eds., Puerto Rican Jam: Rethinking Colonialism and Nationalism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997).

[10] For an example of the continuing dissatisfaction with Puerto Rico’s political parties: Adrian Florido, “In Puerto Rico, Young Voters Are Trying to Shake Up Traditional Party Politics,” NPR, November 2, 2020, sec. Elections.

[11] Ayala and Bernabe, Puerto Rico in the American Century, 105.

[12] Ayala and Bernabe, 106.

[13] Carrión, “Puerto Rican Nationalism and the Struggle for Independence,” 142.

[14] Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (New Perspectives on the Past), 2nd ed. (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009), 24.

[15] Gellner51.

[16] Gellner, 57.

[17] John Hutchinson, “Cultural Nationalism,” in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Nationalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 84.

[18] Hutchinson, “Cultural Nationalism,” 85.

[19] Anderson, Imagined Communities, 48.

[20] Marta I. Cruz-Janzen, “Out of the Closet: Racial Amnesia, Avoidance, and Denial - Racism among Puerto Ricans,” Race, Gender & Class 10, no. 3 (2003): 75.

[21] Cruz-Janzen, “Out of the Closet,” 75.

[22] Milagros Denis-Rosario, “The Perpetual Colony: Historical Memory and Inequalities in Puerto Rican Society,” in (Post-)Colonial Archipelagos: Comparing the Legacies of Spanish Colonialism in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, ed. Hans-Jürgen Burchardt and Johanna Leinius (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2022), 212.

[23] Ileana M. Rodríguez-Silva, Silencing Race: Disentangling Blackness, Colonialism, and National Identities in Puerto Rico (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 7.

[24] U.S. Statutes at Large, 56th Cong., Sess. I, Chp. 191.

[25] Negron-Muntaner and Grosfoguel, Puerto Rican Jam, 45.

[26] Denis-Rosario, “The Perpetual Colony,” 211–12.

[27] Rodríguez-Silva, Silencing Race, 136.

[28] Rodríguez-Silva, 137.

[29] Negron-Muntaner and Grosfoguel, Puerto Rican Jam, 14.

[30] Rafael L. Ramirez, “National Culture in Puerto Rico,” Latin American Perspectives 3, no. 3 (1976): 110.

[31] Ramirez, “National Culture in Puerto Rico,” 112.

[32] Ramirez, 112.

[33] Carrión, “Puerto Rican Nationalism and the Struggle for Independence,” 140.

[34] Negron-Muntaner and Grosfoguel, Puerto Rican Jam, 44.

[35] Ayala and Bernabe, Puerto Rico in the American Century, 136.

[36] Emilio Pantojas-Garcia, “Puerto Rican Populism Revisited: The PPD during the 1940s,” Journal of Latin American Studies 21, no. 3 (1989): 525.

[37] Pantojas-Garcia, “Puerto Rican Populism Revisited,” 525.

[38] Ramirez, “National Culture in Puerto Rico,” 112.

[39] Carlos Alamo-Pastrana, Seams of Empire: Race and Radicalism in Puerto Rico and the United States (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2016), 87.

[40] André Lecours and Valérie Vézina, “The Politics of Nationalism and Status in Puerto Rico,” Canadian Journal of Political Science / Revue Canadienne de Science Politique 50, no. 4 (2017): 1090.

[41] Lecours and Vézina, 1091–92.

[42] Lecours and Vézina, 1093.

[43] Lecours and Vézina, 1094.

[44] Negron-Muntaner and Grosfoguel, Puerto Rican Jam, 8.

[45] Negron-Muntaner and Grosfoguel, 5.

[46] Alamo-Pastrana, Seams of Empire, 103.

[47] Carrión, “Puerto Rican Nationalism and the Struggle for Independence,” 153.

[48] Alamo-Pastrana, Seams of Empire, 20–1.

[49] Rodríguez-Silva, Silencing Race, 222–23.

[50] Rodríguez-Silva, Silencing Race, 223.

[51] Lecours and Vézina, “The Politics of Nationalism and Status in Puerto Rico,” 1087.

[52] Hutchinson, “Cultural Nationalism,” 81, 90.

[53] Hutchinson, “Cultural Nationalism,” 81; Negron-Muntaner and Grosfoguel, Puerto Rican Jam, 11.

[54] Gellner, Nations and Nationalism, 51.

[55] Lecours and Vézina, “The Politics of Nationalism and Status in Puerto Rico,” 1093.

[56] Negron-Muntaner and Grosfoguel, Puerto Rican Jam, 17.

[57] Carrión, “Puerto Rican Nationalism and the Struggle for Independence,” 143.

[58] Carrión, 144.

[59] Pantojas-Garcia, “Puerto Rican Populism Revisited,” 523.

[60] Ayala and Bernabe, Puerto Rico in the American Century, 97.

[61] Ayala and Bernabe, 105–6.

[62] Ayala and Bernabe, 98.

[63] Ayala and Bernabe,  Puerto Rico in the American Century, 99.

[64] Pantojas-Garcia, “Puerto Rican Populism Revisited,” 531.

[65] Pantojas-Garcia, 531.

[66] Pantojas-Garcia, 532.

[67] Luis Muñoz Marin, “Luis Muñoz Marin’s Campaign Stump Speech, 1938-1940,” Advances in the History of Rhetoric 10, no. 1 (2007): 283.

[68] Marin, “Luis Muñoz Marin’s Campaign Stump Speech,” 285.

[69] Marin, “Luis Muñoz Marin’s Campaign Stump Speech,” 285.

[70] Marin, “Luis Muñoz Marin’s Campaign Stump Speech,” 283.

[71] Ayala and Bernabe, Puerto Rico in the American Century, 142.

[72] Luis Muñoz Marin, “Inaugural Address of the First Elected Governor of Puerto Rico” (Service Office of the Government of Puerto Rico, 1949), 4–5.

[73] Marin, “Inaugural Address,” 4–5.

[74] Pantojas-Garcia, “Puerto Rican Populism Revisited,” 522.

[75] Burbank and Cooper, Empires in World History, 13–14.

[76] Marin, “Inaugural Address,” 5.

[77] Luis Muñoz Marin, “La Personalidad Puertorriquena en el Estado Libre Asociado,” [“The Puerto Rican Personality in the Free Associated State”]. December 29, 1953, p. 9, courtesy of Rutgers University.

[78] Marin, “La Personalidad Puertorriquena,” 9.

[79] Marin, “La Personalidad Puertorriquena,” 12.

[80] Marin, “La Personalidad Puertorriquena,” 9.

[81] Hutchinson, “Cultural Nationalism,” 78.

[82] Hutchinson, 78.

[83] Marin, “La Personalidad Puertorriquena,” 13.

[84] Ayala and Bernabe, Puerto Rico in the American Century, 106.

[85] Harry Franqui-Rivera, Soldiers of the Nation: Military Service and Modern Puerto Rico, 1868-1952 (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2018), 77.

[86] Victor Villanueva, “Colonial Memory and the Crime of Rhetoric: Pedro Albizu Campos,” College English 71, no. 6 (2009): 634.

[87] Pedro Albizu Campos, Habla Albizu Campos (New York: Paredon Records, 1971), 2.

[88] Villanueva, “Colonial Memory and the Crime of Rhetoric,” 634.

[89] Carrión, “Puerto Rican Nationalism and the Struggle for Independence,” 141.

[90] Pedro Albizu Campos, “Proclama Sobre El Aniversario de La Revolucion de Lares Partido Nacionalista” [“Proclamation on the Anniversary of the Revolution of Lares Nationalist Party”], 1934, in Claridad, 2008.

[91] Campos, “Proclama Sobre El Aniversario.”

[92] Pedro Albizu Campos, “Our Political Status,” 1936, Marxists Internet Archive, accessed December 13, 2023.

[93] Campos, “Our Political Status.”

[94] Pantojas-Garcia, “Puerto Rican Populism Revisited,” 527.

[95] Campos, “Our Political Status.”

[96] Campos, Habla Albizu Campos.

[97] Ayala and Bernabe, Puerto Rico in the American Century, 109.

[98] Campos, “Our Political Status.”

[99] Ramirez, “National Culture in Puerto Rico,” 112.

[100] Ramirez, 112.

[101] Alamo-Pastrana, Seams of Empire, 119.

[102] Pantojas-Garcia, “Puerto Rican Populism Revisited,” 527.

[103] Pantojas-Garcia, 528.

[104] Alamo-Pastrana, Seams of Empire, 119.

[105] Alamo-Pastrana, 119.

[106] Pedro Albizu Campos, “Puerto Rican Nationalism,” 1936, Marxists Internet Archive, accessed December 13.

[107] Ayala and Bernabe, Puerto Rico in the American Century, 106.

[108] Campos, Habla Albizu Campos.

[109] Alamo-Pastrana, Seams of Empire, 119.

[110] Gellner, Nations and Nationalism, 36.

[111] Negron-Muntaner and Grosfoguel, Puerto Rican Jam, 17–19.

[112] Hutchinson, “Cultural Nationalism,” 84.

[113] Jaquira Díaz, “Let Puerto Rico Be Free,” The Atlantic, September 20, 2022.

[114] For an excellent example of this scholarship, see Laura Briggs, Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science, and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002).

[115] Briggs, Reproducing Empire, 6.

[116] Cesar J. Ayala, “Puerto Rico and Its Diaspora,” UCLA Latin American Institute, October 27, 2021.

[117] Lecours and Vézina, “The Politics of Nationalism and Status in Puerto Rico,” 1086.

[118] Ayala, “Puerto Rico and Its Diaspora.”

Summer 2024 Vol. 9, Issue 2

Cover image courtesy of issue contributor Martin M. Mastnak.

About the Author

Isabelle Anderson is a senior at Amherst College double-majoring in history and law, jurisprudence, and social thought. Her research interests include American imperial history, reproductive justice, and radical feminist movements in Puerto Rico. She is currently working on a history thesis analyzing the discourses surrounding birth control and sterilization in Puerto Rico in the mid-to-late twentieth century. Isabelle is the proud descendant of a Puerto Rican single mother and migrant who sparked her passion for the island’s history and to whom she dedicates this work.