The Cultural Politics of Race in Puerto Rico
Duke University Press 2015
New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in Caribbean StudiesNew Books in Latin American StudiesNew Books in Latino StudiesNew Books in MusicNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books Network April 12, 2017 James Stancil
Puerto Rico is often depicted as a “racial democracy” in which a history of race mixture has produced a racially harmonious society. In Remixing Reggaeton: The Cultural Politics of Race in Puerto Rico (Duke University Press, 2015), Petra R. Rivera-Rideau shows how reggaeton musicians critique racial democracy’s privileging of whiteness and concealment of racism by expressing identities that center blackness and African diasporic belonging. From censorship campaigns on the island that sought to devalue reggaeton, to its subsequent mass marketing to U.S. Latino listeners, Rivera-Rideau traces reggaeton’s origins and its transformation from the music of San Juan’s slums into a global pop phenomenon. Reggaeton, she demonstrates, provides a language to speak about the black presence in Puerto Rico and a way to build links between the island and the African diaspora.
Petra Rivera-Rideau is an associate professor of American Studies at Wellesley University. She earned her B.A. at Harvard University and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. Her research examines the cultural politics of race in Latin American and Latina/o communities. Rivera-Rideau is primarily interested in how ideas about blackness and Latinidad intersect (or not) in popular culture, especially popular music.
In addition to Remixing Reggaeton: The Cultural Politics of Race in Puerto Rico, Rivera-Rideau also co-edited Afro-Latin@s in Movement: Critical Approaches to Blackness and Transnationalism the Americas, an interdisciplinary volume that combines academic analysis, personal reflections, interviews, and photography to examine how different ideas about blackness travel across Latin America, the Spanish Caribbean, and the United States. Beyond her book-length works, Rivera-Rideau has also published articles about reggaeton in journals such as Popular Music & Society, Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, and Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. Her current research project explores representations of Latinidad in the Zumba fitness program, tentatively titled Fun, Fitness, Fiesta: Zumba and the Production of Latinidad.
James Stancil is an independent scholar, freelance journalist, and the President and CEO of Intellect U Well, Inc. a Houston-area non-profit dedicated to increasing the joy of reading and media literacy in young people.