Research

Books
The New York Young Lords and the Struggle for Liberation. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2015.Cover Small

The Young Lords: A Reader. New York: New York University Press, 2010.
The Young Lords: A Reader

Recent Articles & Chapters
Delinking Rhetoric, or Revisiting McGee’s Fragmentation Thesis Through Decoloniality.” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 15, no. 4 (2012): 647-57. doi: 10.1353/rap.2012.0043.

Decolonizing Imaginaries: Rethinking ‘the People’ in the Young Lords’ Church Offensive.” Quarterly Journal of Speech 98, no. 1 (2012): 1-23. doi: 10.1080/00335630.2011.638656.

Tropicalizing East Harlem: Rhetorical Agency, Cultural Citizenship, and Nuyorican Cultural Production.” Communication Theory 21, no. 4 (2011): 344-67. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2885.2011.01390.x.

Race, Coloniality, and Geo-Body Politics: The Garden as Latin@ Vernacular Discourse.Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture 5, no. 3 (2011): 363-71, doi:10.1080/17524032.2011.593535.

Gender Politics, Democratic Demand and Anti-Essentialism in the New York Young Lords.” In Latina/o Discourse in Vernacular Spaces: Somos de Una Voz?, edited by Bernadette Marie Calafell and Michelle A Holling, 59-80. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2011.

Barack Obama, the Tea Party, and the Threat of Race: On Racial Neoliberalism and Born Again Racism.Communication, Culture & Critique 4, no. 1 (2011): 23-30. doi:10.1111/j.1753-9137.2010.01090.x.

A Radical Democratic Style? Tradition, Hybridity, and Intersectionality.” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 11, no. 3 (2008): 459-65. doi:10.1353/rap.0.0055.

Trashing the System: Social Movement, Intersectional Rhetoric, and Collective Agency in the Young Lords Organization’s Garbage Offensive.” Quarterly Journal of Speech 92, no. 2 (2006): 174-201. doi:10.1080/00335630600816920.

Research Perspectives/Interests
For me, research comes from an intensely personal place and broadens out from there. When my mother came to the United States from Puerto Rico, she arrived with a faith that, in “America,” anything is possible. She came here, as many Puerto Ricans have, seeking the “American Dream” in the land of milk and honey. After some time, however, my family learned that the milk frequently goes sour and all that’s left of the honey is a sticky residue that Puerto Ricans are too often expected to clean up. I begin with this brief anecdote because it speaks to what motivates my research and teaching: it is not wholly bitterness toward a system of inequity; and it is especially not the continuation of my family’s former blind faith in an American Dream. Rather, I am motivated by a tempered hope that theory and critique from those acknowledged roots can better equip me to engage modern/colonial problematics in society and my scholarship.

With these motivations in mind, my research interests addresses questions about the relationships between race, political possibilities, and rhetoric in the U.S. I am deeply interested in the way that theories of race and problematics of difference can and do inform our conceptualizations of public culture. I have particular interests and expertise in Latin@ studies, rhetorical theory, and the coloniality of power/knowledge/being.

I engage many of these themes in my new book on the New York Young Lords. The Young Lords were a revolutionary nationalist, anti-racist, anti-sexist street political organization who advanced a thirteen-point political program featuring support for the liberation of all Puerto Ricans (on the Island and in the U.S.), the broader liberation of all “Third World people,” equality for women, U.S. demilitarization, leftist political education, socialist redistribution, community control, and other programs as they fit into their platform. I treat the Young Lords as a critical and representative example of decolonial or anti-systemic social movement struggling against modern/coloniality. What makes the Young Lords particularly interesting is the way in which they advanced their agenda through a political style that operated functionally at the intersections of competing socio-rhetorical traditions and through various discourses including speech, poetry, images, and embodied performance. Their critical geo-/body politics targeted the intersectionality of oppression along gendered-raced-classed axes from the late 1960s until the mid 1970s.

Research for the Young Lords project has been a welcomed challenge because of the lack of scholarly literature on U.S. Puerto Rican political discourse generally and the Young Lords in particular. As such, research on the Young Lords has required numerous trips to New York City to conduct archival research at the Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños (located at CUNY-Hunter College), NYU’s Tamiment archives, the Schomburg Center, the New York Public Library, as well as interviews with former Young Lords. In working closely with El Centro and assembling my own archive of materials on the Young Lords and Puerto Rican radicalism, my research is guided by a concern for faithfully producing a rhetorical history of the Young Lords that resists romanticization. Part of that task has been completed through The Young Lords: A Reader (NYU Press, 2010), a sourcebook of archival materials from the organization. Additional scholarship has made it into journal articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries (see my CV). And my (probably) final work on the organization, The New York Young Lords and the Struggle for Liberation, came out in June 2015 with Temple University Press.

All of that said, my research extends beyond attention to the Young Lords, engaging questions of racial neoliberalism, rhetorical agency, critical rhetorical theory, and Latin@ studies more broadly. I have also recently begun collaborating with an environmental philosopher to start interrogating the relationship between race, class, gender, coloniality, and Latin@ identity in the context of environmental justice—a project and collaborative relationship that I am quite excited about undertaking.

Finally, most recently I have begun work on my next book project, which I am tentatively calling Possession: Crafting Americanity in Congressional Debates over Puerto Rico’s Status. Where my Young Lords project was interested in the ways in which people challenge coloniality, this new project is concerned with the ways in which coloniality manifests itself in political discourse about Puerto Rico and is in some ways central to the US American national imaginary. While other scholars have done exemplary work examining the implications of key pieces of Congressional legislation, Supreme Court decisions, and Executive branch decision-making for the island of Puerto Rico, little work has flipped the lens around to engage in detailed analysis of the legislative (rhetorical) history that undergirds one of the few remaining colonial relationships in our contemporary world. Instead of asking (as many existing studies do) What does this legislation mean for Puerto Rico? I ask, What do the debates over this legislation mean for the United States? Drawing connections between the logics of possession, master morality, and the rhetoric of modernity, I also hope to build upon Aníbal Quijano and Emmanuel Wallerstein’s “Concept of Americanity” to develop a sense for how the rhetoric of Americanity is structured in the United States post-1898.

In Progress
Possession: Crafting Americanity in Congressional Debates over Puerto Rico. Book manuscript under preparation. 

“The Foraker Act, Albert Beveridge, and the Rhetoric of Americanity.” Article manuscript under revision for submission, July 2015.

“Local Knowledge, Coloniality, Environmental Justice, and Spatial Transformation: East Harlem and Vieques, 1969-2009.” Article manuscript under preparation with Robert Figueroa.

Check out my Academia.edu page for more about my research.

(updated 6/2015)

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