“Little Things Are Big”: Jesus Colon, Race, and the Transnational Ghosts of the Puerto Rican Left

Saturday, January 6, 2018: 9:10 AM
Madison Room B (Marriott Wardman Park)
Carlos Alamo-Pastrana, Vassar College
Canonical sociology maintains comparative historical method as one of its foundational methodological tools and commitments. While comparative historical analysis receives sufficient attention as a methodological practice there is need for more interrogation of the deviations the method produces in and of itself. Using the writings and letters of Black Puerto Rican activist and intellectual Jesus Colon, this presentation examines the pitfalls of centering analysis of Puerto Rican race relations on simplistic nationalist comparisons with the United States. In its place, this paper proposes the concept racial imbrication within a transnationalist frame as an alternative methodological and theoretical intervention. Racial imbrication details the structured and relational stories about race and colonialism organized along the ideological borders of Puerto Rican, American, and global racial regimes. Resisting idealistic readings of these exchanges, this paper argues that racial imbrication also highlights the relations of power concealed from view in the spaces of overlap and that accentuate national, gendered, and/or class differences.