Narratives of Life: A Post-Maria Intervention in Colonial Puerto Rico


LAC Burkhardt




For residence at the Hispanic Studies Department and the Humanities Department at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez during academic year 2019-2020


Hurricane Maria dramatically changed Caribbean Studies as a field. The everlasting debate regarding cultural identity among Puerto Ricans took a dramatic turn when media outlets like Facebook served as political platforms to move forward a collective and grassroots recovery project with multiple inlets and outlets. Their message took many shapes and tones, but mostly focused on stating that Puerto Ricans were worth saving by their political nation—the United States of America—because they are American citizens. Many effective initiatives in this crusade were artistic, as art became a vivid language for survival, recovery, and mourning. This project consists of an ethnography that investigates narratives and artifacts of colonialism, displacement, and belonging. “Narratives of Life” examines oral histories, literature, and visual art discussing the relationship between colonialism, diaspora, natural disasters, and cultural identity before and after Hurricane Maria.