The Shaping of Puerto Rican Identity on the Mainland of the United States

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This explorative work tries to understand the ways Puerto Ricans define themselves as such on the mainland of the United States. Due to the history of the island, including a lengthy colonial period, Puerto Ricans can find themselves in the precarious position of being in between different cultures or aspects of culture as defined by the cultural discourse in the United States. A relatively recent hurricane that devastated the island has seemingly reopened discussions about the island and the way it and its inhabitants are viewed in the United States. This work attempts to understand the ways in which Puerto Ricans living on the mainland of the United States shape their identity within this context. In order to examine this topic, in depth semi structured interviews have been conducted with people who identify as Puerto Rican in the New Jersey and New York area. These interviewed were based on a framework comprising known aspects of Puerto Rican culture such as music, food and language, as well as the insights provided by phenomenology, embodiment theory and intersectionality. The information provided through the interviews were transcribed and analysed to contribute to the understanding of Puerto Rican identity and how these people have changed aspects of these identities before and after the hurricane and the corresponding governmental response. Puerto Rican identity seems to be a balancing act between a multitude factors that are deemed more or less important according to the people Puerto Ricans interact with. The interviews also suggest that Puerto Ricans are re-evaluating their social cultural p0sition in society after the inadequate response of their government pertaining the hurricane. Puerto Ricans on the mainland appear to be aware of their social and cultural position in society, and seem to be willing to become more vocal about the inequalities inherent to this position.
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