Negotiating Blackness: How Jamaica and Puerto Rico Represent Race for Tourism


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowships




How do nation-states represent Blackness in tourist promotions? Drawing on political sociology and global critical race studies, this project investigates state actors’ decisions over which Black tropes to use, paying particular attention to how elites, international actors, and intellectuals countervail in this process, as well as the effect of global whiteness and modes of racialization. This research compares Jamaica’s and Puerto Rico’s uses of Blackness for tourist advertisements during the twentieth century. While both states historically took leading roles in developing tourism, the countries’ historical configurations differ significantly, thus making this an illuminating comparison. Data is collected through muti-sited archival research, and the project deploys the tools of comparative and historical methods. This research joins a promising trend in sociology that engages with archives collaboratively, turning away from its traditional “solitary ethic.”