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Seams of EmpireRace and Radicalism in Puerto Rico and the United States$
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Carlos Alamo-Pastrana

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062563

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062563.001.0001

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The Republic of the Penniless

The Republic of the Penniless

Chapter:
(p.86) 4 The Republic of the Penniless
Source:
Seams of Empire
Author(s):

Carlos Alamo-Pastrana

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813062563.003.0005

Edwin Rosskam worked during the New Deal as a photographer for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) before working in a variety of capacities for the Puerto Rican government throughout the 1940s and 1950s. In 1964 Rosskam published The Alien, a novel about his time in Puerto Rico. A liberal like Preece, Rosskam depicted Puerto Rico as a place where American progressives could comfortably settle without having to be burdened by all the cultural and political baggage of U.S. race relations. This chapter illustrates how Rosskam used Puerto Rican racial insularity and other sociological tropes in order to rationalize the connections he hoped to make between the continental United States and the island. While Rosskam’s novel explored the productive possibilities of class-based color–blind politics, its emphasis on insularity simultaneously reinforced whiteness and characterized the Puerto Rican diaspora as a contaminated and racialized class of outsiders to the nation.

Keywords:   White liberalism, color-blindness, American sociology, post-racialism, Puerto Rican diaspora

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