Seams of Empire:
Race and Radicalism in Puerto Rico and the United States

Carlos Alamo-Pastrana

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"A truly excellent contribution that unearths new and largely unknown evidence about relationships between Puerto Ricans and African-Americans and white Americans in the continental United States and Puerto Rico. Alamo-Pastrana revises how race is to be studied and understood across national, cultural, colonial, and hierarchical cultural relations."--Zaire Zenit Dinzey-Flores, author of Locked In, Locked Out: Gated Communities in a Puerto Rican City


Puerto Rico's colonial relationship with the United States and its history of intermixture of native, African, and Spanish inhabitants has prompted inconsistent narratives about race and power in the colonial territory. Departing from these accounts, early twentieth-century writers, journalists, and activists scrutinized both Puerto Rico's and the United States's institutionalized racism and colonialism in an attempt to spur reform, leaving an archive of oft-overlooked political writings.

In Seams of Empire, Carlos Alamo-Pastrana uses racial imbrication as a framework for reading this archive of little-known Puerto Rican, African American, and white American radicals and progressives, both on the island and the continental United States. By addressing the concealed power relations responsible for national, gendered, and class differences, this method of textual analysis reveals key symbolic and material connections between marginalized groups in both national spaces and traces the complexity of race, racism, and conflict on the edges of empire.

Carlos Alamo-Pastrana is associate professor of sociology and Latin American and Latina/o studies at Vassar College.
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This timely work highlights how activists and politicians in both spaces understood race, empire, and colonialism in the 20th century....A must-read for scholars of transnational and diaspora history as well as anyone trying to build black and brown alliances in today’s antiracist movements.-- African-American Intellectual Historical Society

Reimagines the way race is approached in Puerto Rico and the black diaspora. . . . Insightful, nuanced, and delightfully written, this book illuminates the ways even radical ideas about race and empire tended to reproduce the logics of white supremacy and empire.-- Choice

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