My paper explores the intersections between workers’ global aspirations and their understanding of local conditions as it materialized in their cultural, intellectual, and literary production. I argue that actively participating in the international circulation of labor’s print media allowed Puerto Rico’s obreros ilustrados to access new cultural referents to understand their local and social realities. Furthermore, because workers had been excluded from the conversations happening amongst the island’s cultural elites, envisioning the lettered barriada as a social space that went beyond the geographical confines of Puerto Rico allowed obreros ilustrados to engage in international conversations. In sum, the lettered barriada became a space for workers to assert themselves as intellectual and political subjects.
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