Spring 2014

History of Puerto Rico:  Colony, Nation, Diaspora

Listed in: American Studies, as AMST-317


Solsiree del Moral (Section 01)


 The island of Puerto Rico is only 35 miles wide by 100 miles long. Despite its small size, the island is at the center of multiple histories. A Spanish colony for 400 years, the island became an unincorporated territory of the United States at the turn of the century (1898), a military prize strategically located in the Caribbean. Once valued for its agricultural production of sugar, coffee, and tobacco, since the 1950s the island has undergone intense industrialization. This economic change was accompanied by internal rural to urban migration, as well as the emigration of laborers to the United States. The great migration of Puerto Ricans to United States led to the founding of the mainland diaspora. Puerto Ricans today, split between the island and the mainland, have adjusted to these historical circumstances. Along the way, they have redefined and negotiated the parameters of “authentic” Puerto Rican identities. Although not an independent nation, Puerto Ricans have developed a unique form of cultural nationalism.

This course will investigate the economic, political, and cultural history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Puerto Rico. This includes the history of the island as a colony of Spain and the United States, the relationship between economic modernization and cultural nationalism, and an analysis of the cycles of Puerto Rican migration. One of the broader questions we address is: in what ways are the island and Puerto Ricans crucial to historical narratives of the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States? Puerto Rico sits at the center of multiple historical conversations. Together we will explore these connections, historical constructions, and debates.

Limited to 30 students.  Spring semester.  Professor del Moral.

If Overenrolled: Priority given to American Studies majors.


2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Fall 2015