The Last Colony- Music and Modern Identity in Puerto Rico

TitleThe Last Colony- Music and Modern Identity in Puerto Rico
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsMacdonald, Brin
Academic DepartmentAnthropology
Thesis AdvisorGross, Dr. Joan
DegreeBachelors of Arts in International Studies in Cultural Anthropology
Number of Pages76
Date Published11/2007
UniversityOregon State University
Thesis TypeUndergraduate
Keywordsamerican influence, Commonwealth, culture, music, Puerto Rican influence, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has long been an indistinct part of the United States. Few Americans know where the commonwealth is located, let alone that Puerto Ricans have been United States citizens for nearly a century. The culture today still suffers from this intermediate political status. What is known about Puerto Rican society is often assembled from stereotypes or outdated and inaccurate media representation. As with any culture, the new generation is not the same as their predecessors; Puerto Ricans are more than the painted faces in West Side Story, more than the salsa music that once took over the world, and more than the few Puerto Rican singers the media has turned into pop sensations. Today’s Puerto Rico is the result of a complex intermingling of cultures due to a history of miscegenation coupled with United States hegemony. As it refers to the US and westernized culture, America is more a part of the identity of the 18-30 year old generation than ever before. True to their musical legacy, Puerto Rico has created another novel sensation with the Puerto Rican sound called reggaetón. It is through examining what reggaetón has to "say" amidst the background of history and the long musical tradition in Puerto Rico that a more forward-looking perception of Puerto Rican identity in contemporary times emerges. Cultural awareness breeds respect and empathy, leading to positive relationships between communities. This awareness can be exercised by considering an overlooked facet of our own American culture: the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.