From Bomba to Hip-Hop: Puerto Rican Culture and Latino Identity

From Bomba to Hip-Hop: Puerto Rican Culture and Latino Identity

Juan Flores

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 0231110774

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Neither immigrants nor ethnics, neither foreign nor "hyphenated Americans" in the usual sense of that term, Puerto Ricans in New York have created a distinct identity both on the island of Puerto Rico and in the cultural landscape of the United States. Juan Flores considers the uniqueness of Puerto Rican culture and identity in relation to that of other Latino groups in the United States―as well as to other minority groups, especially African Americans. Architecture and urban space, literary traditions, musical styles, and cultural movements provide some of the sites and moments of a cultural world defined by the interplay of continuity and transformation, heritage and innovation, roots and fusion. Exploring this wide range of cultural expression―both in the diaspora and in Puerto Rico―Flores highlights the rich complexities and fertile contradictions of Latino identity.














formal term for commonwealth status)].”36 As pervasive as the “lite” sensibility may appear, and as symptomatic of the current political culture, it nevertheless remains a “diversion” in the varied senses of the word. While indicative of a real restructuring of colonial relations, it is also a mirage, a simulation of non- or postcolonial circumstances aimed at diverting attention from the continuities of colonial history. While suggesting new ways of thinking about colonialism and decolonization

“from the Left Bank to the West Bank,” Bhabha speaks in an interview in the early 1990s of the possibilities of being, somehow, in between, of occupying an interstitial space that was not fully governed by the recognizable traditions from which you came. For the interaction or overdetermination often produces another third space. It does not necessarily produce some higher, more inclusive, or representative reality. Instead, it opens up a space that is skeptical of cultural totalization, of

decades they had been frequenting the same clubs, with Black and Latin bands often sharing the billing. Since the musical revolution of the late 1940s, when musical giants like Mario Bauzá, Machito, and Dizzie Gillespie joined forces in the creation of “Cubop” or Latin jazz, the two traditions had come into even closer contact than ever, with the strains of Afro-Cuban guaguancó, son, and guaracha interlacing and energizing the complex harmonic figures of big band and bebop experimentations. For

until 1964, when Pete Rodríguez was already getting billings at the major spots and with the leading names in Latin music. As teenagers in the 1950s, they all sang doo-wop—Johnny as leader of his own group, and Tito and Tony with many of the impromptu streetcorner harmonizers around Central and East Harlem. Johnny Colón, the bandleader, was most active in promoting the group’s chances for recognition, and sought out the right people in the music industry. When Goldner and Lewis caught wind of

publication and promotion of their diasporic writers and artists.22 Of course, many of these writers write in Spanish and have literary training, and are thus easily considered integral to their national literatures. But even English-language authors like the Dominicans Julia Alvarez and Junot Díaz, in addition to their access to major U.S. publishing opportunities, gained rapid recognition in the Dominican Republic and among Dominican writers, which included the translation and publication of

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