Puerto Rican Studies Association Conference

 

Thursday, September 27, 2018, 08:00am - 05:00pm

 

Navigating Insecurity: Crisis, Power, and Protest in Puerto Rican Communities.

Thirteenth Biannual Conference

October 26-28, 2018

For more information, please visit our webpage: PRSA.uconn.edu

Location 
Douglass Student Center of Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Contact 

PRSA.uconn.edu

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PRSA is a non‐profit professional organization that brings together scholars, educators, public policy experts, community activists and students whose work focuses, at least partially, on Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans in the United States, or both. PRSA members, numbering several hundred, represent virtually all fields of research and teaching in the Humanities, Social Sciences and Arts, including Anthropology, Architecture, Art History, Demography, Economics, Educational Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Public Administration, Social Work, Sociology, Studio Arts, Theater and Dance, and Urban Planning, among others.
The devastation caused by Hurricane Maria as well as the prolonged debt and economic crises affecting Puerto Rico have prompted widespread discussions and concerns regarding the various forms of insecurity that Puerto Ricans face. For years, the local and federal government imposed austerity measures in order to service Puerto Rico’s debt, which has adversely affected daily life for large swaths of the Puerto Rican population. Public sector workers and retirees fear that their pensions might vanish, students and their parents face unprecedented school closures, young people lament the few options for well‐paid employment, and low‐income individuals are expected to get by with less assistance from the state.
In the months since Hurricane Maria made landfall, these conditions have only worsened. Hurricane Maria ravaged the physical landscape, took lives, and left behind trauma and feelings of abandonment. Two months after the hurricane half the population was still without power, many without access to potable water, food, or medicine. Many experienced major disparities in accessing and receiving aid from local and federal agencies, highlighting an unequal landscape that has only worsened in the aftermath.
Given the situation on the archipelago, Puerto Ricans are leaving in numbers not seen since the Great Migration of the mid‐twentieth century. Puerto Ricans joining their compatriots in the diaspora, however, often find themselves trading one set of social and economic insecurities for another. The challenge of finding stable employment and housing are only the first faced by these recent migrants. Additionally, they have migrated at a time when xenophobic and racist hostilities are running high following the contentious 2016 presidential election and the growth of anti‐immigrant policies and attitudes in the last decades. For their part, Puerto Ricans in the diaspora continue to experience forms of sociocultural, racial, economic, and linguistic discrimination while also pursuing social and economic mobility. Well‐established and emerging Puerto Rican communities in the United States are forced to deal with the effects of gentrification, criminalization, and disinvestment.
While Hurricane Maria and the economic crisis have thrown into sharp relief the forms of insecurity that many Puerto Ricans on the archipelago and in the diaspora live with, we ask how insecurity may be considered a persistent aspect of puertorriqueñidad. Colonial rule, military service, migration, natural disasters, low wages, unemployment and recurrent debt crises have generated immediate and lasting forms of insecurity for Puerto Ricans.