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National Performances

The Politics of Class, Race, and Space in Puerto Rican Chicago

In this book, Ana Y. Ramos-Zayas explores how Puerto Ricans in Chicago construct and perform nationalism. Contrary to characterizations of nationalism as a primarily unifying force, Ramos-Zayas finds that it actually provides the vocabulary to highlight distinctions along class, gender, racial, and generational lines among Puerto Ricans, as well as between Puerto Ricans and other Latino, black, and white populations.

Drawing on extensive ethnographic research, Ramos-Zayas shows how the performance of Puerto Rican nationalism in Chicago serves as a critique of social inequality, colonialism, and imperialism, allowing barrio residents and others to challenge the notion that upward social mobility is equally available to all Americans—or all Puerto Ricans. Paradoxically, however, these activists’ efforts also promote upward social mobility, overturning previous notions that resentment and marginalization are the main results of nationalist strategies.

Ramos-Zayas’s groundbreaking work allows her here to offer one of the most original and complex analyses of contemporary nationalism and Latino identity in the United States.


“Ramos-Zayas has presented an up-close, richly detailed account of the processes that define a community. She has made contributions in two important areas of anthropology. First, her detailed ethnography provides information about an area of the Puerto Rican diaspora not previously documented. . . . Second, she emphasizes the construction of national identity as a discursive process, contingent, comparative and context sensitive.”

Bonnie Urciuoli, | Anthropological Quarterly

Table of Contents

1- Performing the Nation: Perspectives on Puerto Rican Nationalism
2- Cold in the Windy City: Migration, Settlement, and Political Stories in Puerto Rican Chicago
3-Los nacionalistas: Popular Education, Community Activism, and Gender Ideologies
4-Los profesionales: Public Education, Class Identities, and the Mainstream Media
5-Cultural Authenticity: The Suburban Islanders, Historiography, and the Island-Nation
6-Creating Race: Pedro Albizu Campos, Representation, and Imagination
7-Creating Space: Barrio-Nation, Urban Landscapes, and Citizenship Identities


ASA Latina/o Sociology Section: Latina/o Sociology Section Distinguished Contribution to Research Book Award

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