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Title:Remediating empire: constituting, documenting and re-mediating U.S. citizenship in Puerto Rico (1898-1941)
Author(s):Curbelo, Katia
Director of Research:Hay, James
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hay, James
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Ciafone, Amanda; Nerone, John; Vázquez, Oscar E.
Department / Program:Inst of Communications Rsch
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):U.S. citizenship
Puerto Rico-U.S. relations
colonial governmentality & empire
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
photography & motion pictures
documentary, archive & archeology
Abstract:This dissertation proposes an archeology of American representations of U.S. citizenship remediated as governmental technology through three forms of media for the U.S. colonial possessions acquired in 1898. More precisely, through critical discourse analysis this research looks at interplays of U.S. government produced documentary media, and cultural representations of U.S. citizenship as governmental technology of empire in the specific case of Puerto Rico through three periods of development encompassing1898-1941. My work looks at how these representations of citizenship have been possible through three periods, and even promoted by the State’s emissaries in Puerto Rico, specifically how Americans sought to remediate through images and texts a narrative of the Puerto Rican space and its subjects. Through this study the constitution, documentation and remediation of the Puerto Rican people as well as the island of Puerto Rico from the United States’ point of view has been critically analyzed, generating a space where the past can be used to examine the present time in the island. This is achieved by reviewing three periods of media development and imperial discourse remediation, the latter seen as reconciliation of imperial discourse through each period, at the same time this discourse was re-launched through newer media). The unincorporated territory of Puerto Rico gained that status in 1900 (Foraker Act), and in 1917 through the Jones Act, U.S. citizenship was granted to the population of the territory. This research analyzes how the United States represented U.S. citizens from Puerto Rico to certain U.S. audiences. The sources chosen provide a material documentary trail that in each period evidences how U.S. citizenship was morphed by Congress to organize an overseas space away from the U.S. continental space, where U.S. values and morals were reproduced by government agents through Americanization policies for the subjects, while documented in these media. These cultural technologies became types of catalogs physically displaying the possibilities of prosperity waiting to happen in lands needing to be labored, exploited, and used for the Manifest Destiny of the American People. The first part of my work introduces the historical background assessed and provides in Chapter I keywords that have become the toolbox for this research. The second part (Ch II: Constituting Empire, and Ch III: Documenting Empire) provides a historical look at how imperial power and colonial governance were developed for the islands acquired during the U.S. expansion overseas after 1898, and how imperial power and colonial subjects depended on each other for parallel development of their identities. Ch IV: Remediating Empire closes the last part of my work, evidencing the change in language of imperial policies establishing the governmentality the U.S. had over Puerto Rico, through emissaries of Empire such as the U.S.D.A. and locally developed structures in the island, marked by the years after the New Deal (1930s). The methodology adopted for this research follows a Foucaultian approach to discourse analysis and evaluation. Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as explained by Gillian Rose in Visual Methodologies (2012) in its two approaches, was used. As will be seen the particular CDA (I or II) applied for the media in each chapter depended on who and what was approaching the discourse of empire. In Ch II the approach was CDA I as it evaluated political cartoons printed in newspapers of the first reviewed period (popular media). Ch III used CDA I as well, to evaluate the medium of documentary photography, which in itself represents a period of new media advancement coupled with scientific fact, text, and illustrations were reviewed for the discourse of empire for the newly acquired insular possessions. Ch IV used CDA I and II to work with visual and written texts from the chosen album, and moving onto the voice over of the film. However, it is a critical analysis of the ways the emissaries of the imperial power and its discourse approached the subject through a display (as in museum or gallery catalog) in two different media of the constructed subjects (U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico). Data for this dissertation was collected from research done on-site at the Archivo Nacional de Puerto Rico, various libraries (PR and US), as well as through on-line archives, libraries, and informal interviews in Puerto Rico. This project is relevant as it mends a gap in the historical discourse of visual imagery made about Puerto Rico from the side of the U.S.A., permitting a periodization over the constitution, documentation, and (re)formulations of the island’s representation through official politico-cultural discourse of U.S. citizenship as a governmental technology, and its remediation through progressive developments of media.
Issue Date:2015-07-17
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Katia Curbelo
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-29
Date Deposited:2015-08

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