Puerto Rico Winter Institute

  • PRWI
  • PRWI
  • PRWI
  • PRWI

View the info session slides here.

Program Dates: January 3 - 14, 2020

Program Title/Themes: Fragmented Borders: Citizenship, Inequality and Transnationalism. When Culture Cries: The Politics of Creativity, Emotion and Resistance 

General Information:
The Puerto Rico Winter Institute (PRWI) is a 10-day graduate seminar in collaboration between DRCLAS and the College of Humanities at the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras (UPR). The program is led by Professor Pedro Reina Perez (UPR). 

- To establish a new, mutually productive exchange between Faculty and students from Harvard University and the University of Puerto Rico, in an annual seminar;
- To foster conversation on themes of common interest for Puerto Rico that will lead to collaborations (publications, symposia, academic exchanges);
- To engender awareness and understanding of Puerto Rico and its present condition to produce new scholarship and expand academic ventures;
- To take advantage of San Juan as a center of academic and intellectual activity at the crossroads of the hemisphere;
- Enhance understanding among faculty and students through teaching and outreach activities;

2020 Program Description: 
This year’s track will examine the events surrounding the resignation of governor Ricardo Rosselló after three weeks of citizen protests in San Juan, following a personal scandal. The public outcry for his ouster was characterized by a series of creative interventions that involved people of all walks of life with one goal in common: demanding accountability and justice. This cultural response has elicited intense academic interest to understand, not only its origin, but the hidden dimensions of colonial resistance as well.

As Puerto Rico enters uncharted waters in its bankruptcy proceedings under the PROMESA Act, the vulnerabilities of austerity and diminished public services raises concerns, given its colonial ties to the United States. Resistance in the face of destitution is inevitable. In the Puerto Rican context, why is culture a vehicle for identity? How is it constructed? How was it expressed during the summer of 2019?

Transnational relations between the United States and the Spanish Caribbean have shaped contemporary notions of identity, culture and citizenship in both sides of the equation. Questions of legal status, economic inequality and cultural agency are resolved in close relationship to each community, both in the mainland and in their home country. While Puerto Ricans possess a powerful tool for mobility in their US citizenship, it is not an insurance policy against poverty, corruption or mismanagement. Decaying natural resources, often affected by lack of adequate planning, mismanagement, and climate change also come into play affecting communities, many of which are poor and underrepresented. To avoid displacement, residents seek ways to increase participation in decision-making and become advocates for the protection of their environment.

Puerto Rico as an unincorporated territory of the United States faces severe economic challenges that have fueled a large exodus to the mainland as people seek shelter from uncertainty, thus bridging markets and reshaping borders and boundaries. Traditional relations between birthplace and residence, identity and citizenship, borders and boundaries are presented anew.

20 students will be selected to participate in the seminar (10 from Harvard University, 10 from UPR). Undergraduate and graduate students are both eligible to apply. Preference will be given to graduate students, and/or students whose research interests best align with the themes of the seminar. Fluency in Spanish is highly desirable. 

Each student will write a paper focused on selected topics. A project blog will feature the writings of participants, together with photos and video.

The PRWI is generously supported by the Wilbur Marvin Foundation. Students chosen to participate will receive funding for airfare, lodging (at URI), a daily stipend, and local transportation. Cultural activities will also be provided.

To Apply: 
Harvard College & Graduate Students 
will apply using CARAT (Centralized Application for Research and Travel). The application is named DRCLAS 2020 Puerto Rico Winter Institute. Please be sure you are applying through the correct application, specific for undergraduates or graduates. 

The following information is required in the application:
• Personal statement: English, 500 words, stating your: Area of expertise, Research interest(s), Potential contribution(s) to the outcomes of the seminar, Time to graduation (year of study)
• Current one-page resume

Deadline: October 11, 2019

Inquiries? Please contact Pedro Reina-Pérez or Rachel Murray-Crawford