Nonsovereign Racecraft: How Colonialism, Debt, and Disaster are Transforming Puerto Rican Racial Subjectivities

Isar Godreau, Yarimar Bonilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Using the concept of “racecraft” to describe the state production of racial subjectivities, we argue that this process has been increasingly compromised in Puerto Rico by a lack of sovereignty and by the current socioeconomic crisis. We argue that the state-sponsored idea that Puerto Rican white and mixed-race identities operate separately from the US racial framework is receding. Based on the unconventional use of an open-ended question for racial identification in a survey administered to over one thousand Puerto Ricans, we found: a reluctance to identify racially, an awareness of a normative “whiteness” that excludes Puerto Ricans, and a tendency to embrace US federal categories such as “Hispanic” and “Latino.” We interpret these results as evidence of a Puerto Rican racial state in decline, arguing that the island's debt crisis and compounding disasters have not only eroded the political and economic realms of statecraft but the racial one as well. [census, colonialism, race, identity, statecraft, racial state, Puerto Rico].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)509-525
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Anthropologist
Volume123
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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