Afterlives of Anticolonial Dissent: Performances of Public Memory within and against the United States of América

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Abstract

Examining how Puerto Rican nationalist icon Lolita Lebrón is celebrated through artistic performances of public memory, this essay investigates how social movement rhetorical histories are used to propel contemporary sovereignty struggles in Puerto Rico. In it, I argue that situating the afterlives of Lebrón’s anticolonial dissent requires that scholars and activists pay specific attention to the unique interlocking systems of oppression and privilege distinctive to the Caribbean territory, influenced by centuries of colonialism. Describing “la trinchera cultural”–or “the cultural trenches”–as the battleground for the urgency of sovereignty for Puerto Ricans, I describe how Las Lolitas, the group responsible for Lebrón’s centennial celebration, engaged in performances of public memory that took place in spaces that would showcase a Puerto Rican nationalist rhetorical repertoire. This repertoire emphasizes networks of solidarity, feminist concerns, and revolutionary spirit across time, highlighting resistance to past colonial transgressions to aid in present/future struggles over Puerto Rican self-determination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-86
Number of pages18
JournalJournal for the History of Rhetoric
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This piece would not be possible without the important cultural and political work of the women who organized Lolita Lebrón’s centennial celebration, especially Jessica Martinez Birriel, who pointed me to Las Lolitas. Thank you to Christa Olson, and to the anonymous reviewers who offered guidance in the development of this piece. Gracias to my partner in life and struggle, Jared Whear, for his editorial assistance and general support.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Society for the History of Rhetoric.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Communication

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