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Scripts of BlacknessRace, Cultural Nationalism, and U.S. Colonialism in Puerto Rico$
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Isar P. Godreau

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038907

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038907.001.0001

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Slavery and the Politics of Erasure

Slavery and the Politics of Erasure

Chapter:
(p.65) Chapter 2 Slavery and the Politics of Erasure
Source:
Scripts of Blackness
Author(s):

Isar P. Godreau

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252038907.003.0003

This chapter looks at benevolent renderings of the institution of slavery, and silences that have contributed to its interpretation as inconsequential for the construction of national identity in Puerto Rico. Such interpretations support national “scripts” that construe blackness as an exceptional, geographically contained, and fading element of the Puerto Rican nation. Indeed, a politics of erasure in historiography was common in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, when scholars interpreted slavery as a benevolent and unimportant institution in Puerto Rico that facilitated racial integration, race mixture, and blanqueamiento at both the biological and cultural levels. This interpretation of slavery was and continues to be deployed to differentiate Puerto Rico from the United States. In contrast to Puerto Rico's so-called soft brand of slavery, upholders of this politics interpret U.S. slavery as a harsher system that created impermeable racial barriers and institutionalized racial segregation.

Keywords:   slavery, blackness, erasure, racial integration, race mixture, blanqueamiento, racial segregation, racial barriers

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