Yarimar Bonilla

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Rutgers U.

Grant number

Gr. 9287

Approve Date

April 19, 2016

Project Title

Bonilla, Dr. Yarimar, Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid research on 'Puerto Rico's American Dream'

Preliminary abstract: This project examines the rising popularity and shifting strategies of the Puerto Rican statehood movement, with a focus on how and why annexation has paradoxically come to be imagined as a form of anti-colonial politics. Support for political annexation has existed in Puerto Rico since the moment of US acquisition in 1898. Over the last several decades, however, as the territory has experienced an acute economic crisis and historic levels of out-migration, resulting in a larger concentration of Puerto Ricans in the continental United States than in the territory, the statehood option has grown in popularity with its advocates increasingly combining the language and rhetoric of anti-colonialism with a conservative political agenda that stresses the importance of cultural assimilation and individual responsibility in the quest for the American Dream. At a time when processes of globalization and neoliberalism continue to transform the nature of state boundaries along with forms of political identification, this research examines how notions of citizenship and national identity are reimagined within contexts of shifting, disputed, and constrained sovereignty. Utilizing data collected through archival research, participant observation, surveys, focus groups and individual interviews, the PI will ask how and why annexation has come to be understood as a form of decolonization and will query the discursive and rhetorical strategies used to sustain an anti-colonialist pro-annexationist stance. The findings of this research will have broad implications for thinking about the cultural meanings of citizenship in an era of shifting sovereignty and about the current landscape of political possibility across the Caribbean and beyond.