Title

Faces of Imperialism: A Survey of the U.S.- Puerto Rican Imperial-Colonial Relationship and the Changing Phases of US Imperialism

Lead Author Major

International Relations

Lead Author Status

Senior

Format

Oral Presentation (Research Day, April 30)

Faculty Mentor Name

Ahmed Kanna

Faculty Mentor Department

School of International Studies

Abstract/Artist Statement

The United States has maintained colonial control over Puerto Rico for over a century. Critical explorations of this relationship have revealed that it is rooted in an imperial-colonial project developed at the turn of the 19th century. The U.S. has benefited substantially from the Caribbean possession through the dispossession of Puerto Ricans and the exploitation of labor for the capture of surplus labor value. This article’s main intervention is its emphasis on understanding and examining, through a Marxist lens, the changing face of U.S. imperialism on the island and the manners in which value extraction and accumulation have historically manifested themselves. It is an imperialism which has morphed through multiple phases: that of absentee sugar monopoly control; the industrial production of commodities; and more pertinent developments within real estate, venture capitalism, debt, and cryptocurrency experiments. Thus, US imperialism is not a monolithic project and must necessarily phase into different manifestations due to changes in the material conditions of global capitalism. Additionally, I argue that in each successive phase of these imperialist economic arrangements, the ultimate goal is the enrichment of the imperial metropole, thus underscoring the true role of the Puerto Rican colonial state: to provide access for U.S. capital to invest in the island and accelerate capital accumulation and dispossess Puerto Ricans of their lands for gains in the US imperial core. Due to these imperial-colonial investments the island has been left in a perpetual state of underdevelopment as the US imperial core profits. Yet, it is important to highlight that these processes acting at the behest of U.S. capital are not met without resistance, as Puerto Ricans have historically acted and continue to act against imperialist advances. The final portion of this article will reflect on potential revolutionary tactics to combat US imperial-colonialism.

Location

Yosemite Learning Lab, William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center

Start Date

30-4-2022 2:40 PM

End Date

30-4-2022 2:59 PM

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Apr 30th, 2:40 PM Apr 30th, 2:59 PM

Faces of Imperialism: A Survey of the U.S.- Puerto Rican Imperial-Colonial Relationship and the Changing Phases of US Imperialism

Yosemite Learning Lab, William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center

The United States has maintained colonial control over Puerto Rico for over a century. Critical explorations of this relationship have revealed that it is rooted in an imperial-colonial project developed at the turn of the 19th century. The U.S. has benefited substantially from the Caribbean possession through the dispossession of Puerto Ricans and the exploitation of labor for the capture of surplus labor value. This article’s main intervention is its emphasis on understanding and examining, through a Marxist lens, the changing face of U.S. imperialism on the island and the manners in which value extraction and accumulation have historically manifested themselves. It is an imperialism which has morphed through multiple phases: that of absentee sugar monopoly control; the industrial production of commodities; and more pertinent developments within real estate, venture capitalism, debt, and cryptocurrency experiments. Thus, US imperialism is not a monolithic project and must necessarily phase into different manifestations due to changes in the material conditions of global capitalism. Additionally, I argue that in each successive phase of these imperialist economic arrangements, the ultimate goal is the enrichment of the imperial metropole, thus underscoring the true role of the Puerto Rican colonial state: to provide access for U.S. capital to invest in the island and accelerate capital accumulation and dispossess Puerto Ricans of their lands for gains in the US imperial core. Due to these imperial-colonial investments the island has been left in a perpetual state of underdevelopment as the US imperial core profits. Yet, it is important to highlight that these processes acting at the behest of U.S. capital are not met without resistance, as Puerto Ricans have historically acted and continue to act against imperialist advances. The final portion of this article will reflect on potential revolutionary tactics to combat US imperial-colonialism.