The Lettered Barriada examines the emergence of an autonomous working-class cultural sphere in Puerto Rico in the first four decades after the 1898 US occupation. Over 70 percent of Puerto Ricans were illiterate in 1898. A layer of skilled and better-off workers created an autonomous cultural circuit that included the publication of newspapers, pamphlets, and books, the performance of plays and concerts, study groups, and reading schools for workers. The institution of lectores (readers) in cigarmakers' shops produced many prominent working-class intellectuals, among them anarcho-feminist Luisa Capetillo (1879–1922), herself a reader in the cigar factories, and Bernardo Vega (1885–1965), the foremost chronicler of the emergence of a Puerto Rican community in New York in the early twentieth century. The principal organizations of this working-class culture were the Federación Libre de Trabajadores (FLT, the local affiliate of the American Federation of Labor) and the Partido Socialista (PS), which emerged out of...
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Book Review| February 01 2023
The Lettered Barriada: Workers, Archival Power, and the Politics of Knowledge in Puerto Rico
The Lettered Barriada: Workers, Archival Power, and the Politics of Knowledge in Puerto Rico. By Jorell A. Meléndez-Badillo.
Duke University Press,
2021. Photographs. Figures. Notes. Bibliography. Index. xiii,
261pp. Paper, $26.95.
Hispanic American Historical Review (2023) 103 (1): 197–199.
César Ayala; The Lettered Barriada: Workers, Archival Power, and the Politics of Knowledge in Puerto Rico. Hispanic American Historical Review 1 February 2023; 103 (1): 197–199. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182168-10216877
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