Please join us for a discussion with Luis Othoniel Rosa, Assistant Professor of Latin American Literature and Ethnic Studies at the University of Nebraska. Professor Rosa studied at the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras and holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University. He authored Comienzos para una estétia anarquista: Borges con Macedonio in 2016. Earlier this year he published his latest novel Caja de fractales a futurist novel set in a post-capitalist Puerto Rico. Before Hurricane María Puerto Rico was hit with brutal austerity measures and an un-payable inhumane debt to Wall Street as well as a century under colonial rule of imperialistic laws like the Jones Act and more recently PROMESA. Hurricane María the worst hurricane in a century devastated the island on Sep 20th and made visible for many Americans the unjust realities of the American Citizens of Puerto Rico. As federal agencies and the military have remained largely absent and incapable to provide help to those who needed the most regular people have effectively taken on the role of the federal and local government by spontaneously organizing in all sorts of networks of mutual aid. In this talk Professor Rosa will focus on the simple yet vital and creative forms in which many Puerto Ricans have organized in the last weeks to prioritize life over capital amidst a humanitarian crises.
The questions that will drive this talk are the following: Can the disasters and catastrophes ever more recurrent in our historical present be a pedagogy for alternative practices of decolonization horizontal modes of organization and the making of new worlds? Or on the contrary will these life-sustaining practices become the perfect excuse for capital and empire to completely disregard its responsibilities towards their most vulnerable peoples? How effective can bottom-up practices of direct action be against the strategies of “disaster capitalism”?
Presented in collaboration with the Committee on Ethnicity Migration Rights and Observatory of the Instituto Cervantes.