Interview: Jason Ortiz on #RickyRenuncia and Puerto Rican Sovereignty Movements – Epistemic Unruliness 26

In this new installment of Epistemic Unruliness, James interviews Jason Ortiz, president of the Connecticut Puerto Rican Agenda, to discuss the recent #RickyRenuncia Uprising in Puerto Rico. To place these protests in their long historical context, Jason and James transport the listeners to the island of Borikén, home of the Taíno Rebellion of 1511, and condense over 500 years of anticolonial movements in Puerto Rican history to a 90-minute conversation. The pair details the various iterations of U.S. colonialism that have ensnared Puerto Ricans in global political economic confrontations over the twentieth century as the Caribbean formed a microcosm of Cold War statecraft, with Puerto Rico and Cuba figuring as proxy theaters for Washington and Moscow’s war games. As the Iron Curtain fell and the new millennium dawned, Puerto Rican colonialism entered a reconfiguring phase with the near-collapse of global financial markets during the Great Recession of 2008 and the subsequent neoliberal austerity regimes it catalyzed. Hurricane María’s devastating landfall in September 2017 served only to amplify the material and political precarity of Boricuas caught in the dual maelstroms of the American Empire and the Anthropocene.

When a team of investigative journalists released a cache of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s homophobic, misogynistic, and classist chat messages in July 2019, Puerto Ricans seized the 500-year moment once again and initiated the #RickyRenuncia/#RickyResign Uprising. Nearly a million Boricuas took to the streets of San Juan, (and many more in la diaspora), staring down police tear gas canisters as they banged their pots and danced perreo to reggaeton and trap music, giving new life to the adage of Emma Goldman lore, “if I can’t dance I don’t want to be in your revolution” (Si no puedo perrear, no es mi revolución).

Support us on Patreon to help us upgrade our recording equipment, potentially provide episode transcripts, and more – plus, you may have the chance to jump your request to the top of the request queue. Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. RSS feed here. Thanks to Bad Infinity for the opening and interstitial music, “Post Digital,” from their album FutureCommons. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

Links:

National Puerto Rican Agenda

Full 889 page cache of Roselló documents from the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo

The New York Times interview with Colectiva Feminista en Construcción who organized the initial protests of the Uprising

Fernando Tormos-Aponte’s Jacobin article “Puerto Rico Rises”

Sandy Plácido’s historicization of Caribbean anti-imperialist movements in The Washington Post

Video montage of “Perreo Combativo” dance protest, July 25, 2019A

NPR coverage of Bad Bunny, Residente, and iLe protest song: “Afilando Los Cuchillos”

Minority Cannabis Business Association

to demonstrate the protests

#RickyRenuncia protester. Photo courtesy of Resumen Latinoamerica

Caribbean Carnival Complex – Epistemic Unruliness 25

In this special installment of Epistemic Unruliness, James brings you a student-assembled episode produced by some the intrepid undergraduates who took his spring 2019 Swarthmore College course, “When the Saints go Marching in! Festivals and Parades of Latin America.” This course and the podcasts presented here focused on the Caribbean Carnival Complex — a heuristic that has emerged within Caribbean cultural studies that takes the Carnival performance season common across the region as a metonymic expression of a fractalized Caribbean identity, history, culture, and cosmology.

Drawing on complexity studies, chaos theory, the Blackened Afro-Caribbean phenomenology and kinaesthetics of Frantz Fanon, as well as participant-observation at Philadelphia’s El Carnaval de Puebla, this episode plunges listeners into the “Caribbean of the senses” (Benítez-Rojo 1992) through an exploration of the embodied, choreographic archives carnavaleros use to generate and transmit forms of knowing (Roach 1996). This performance modality, called “playing Mas” in the Anglo-Caribbean (Browne 2018), centers the affective immediacy but rhetorical indirection of communicative forms like masking, veiling, costuming and other dramaturgical aspects of Caribbean mytho-poesis. The Caribbean Carnival Complex entails a fugitive praxis that emerges from the fragments of liberatory-emancipatory potential made sensible and perceptible by mass street rituals.

A special thank you to the students who worked on the following segments:

  • “Culture Chat” – Liv Elmore, Alejandra King, Jayna Jones, Megan Ruoff
  • “Caribbean Curries” – Arpita Joyce and Catherine Williams
  • “Sounds of El Carnaval de Puebla en Filadelfia” – Edna Olvera and Miryam Ramírez (click here for a .pdf of their listening notes)

Support us on Patreon to help us upgrade our recording equipment, potentially provide episode transcripts, and more – plus, you may have the chance to jump your request to the top of the request queue. Requests for texts for us to discuss? Dreams for us to interpret? Advice questions for us to answer? Email us at alwaysalreadypodcast AT gmail DOT com. Subscribe on iTunes. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. RSS feed here. Thanks to Bad Infinity for the opening and interstitial music, “Being in the World,” from their album FutureCommons. For the mp3 of the episode click here.

 

Syllabus for “When the Saints go Marching in! Festivals and Parades of Latin America.”

The Traditional Mas Archive, an online resource for festival drama in the Caribbean region.

Blue Devils of Paramin. Photo courtesy of Matthew Fung, Traditional Mas Archive