Inspired by Édouard Glissant’s and Marta Aponte Alsina’s critical-creative work, this book explores how Puerto Rico’s affective archive of Caribbean relations, from the nineteenth century through the twenty-first, has envisioned and embodied decolonization and sovereignty in relation to the archipelagic, the sea, and Caribbean regionalism. The book’s transdisciplinary archive includes historical figures and their legacies; political and activist thought, textuality, and action as performative interventions; and performance and live arts pieces, objects, materialities, and texts as political/activist actions. Affect, Archive, Archipelago begins by delving into the historical-political figures of Ramón Emeterio Betances, Luisa Capetillo, and Pedro Albizu Campos. It then encounters the work of the live arts collective Agua, Sol y Sereno; the political/activist work of Amigxs del MAR, Comuna Caribe, Mujeres que Abrazan la Mar, and Coalición 8M; and Teresa Hernández’s transdisciplinary artistic trajectory. Finally, stemming from the book’s argument and the immediate historical-political-affective context of Puerto Rico’s summer 2019 rebellion (Verano Boricua), the book offers some reflections and proposals for furthering decolonial, sovereign, archipelagic, and reparatory horizons for Puerto Rico
Beatriz Llenín-Figueroa is an independent writer, scholar, editor, translator, companion, and never-ending apprentice who stands for Puerto Rican and Caribbean emancipations.
Note of Gratitude
Note on the Text
List of Illustrations
Prelude: An Unsheltered Walk-Swim of a Book, or For the Love of Us
Introduction: Waters Coming Ashore, Affects Creating Archives, Islands Touching Each Other
PART I: PERFORMATIVE POLITICS IN PUERTO RICO’S AFFECTIVE ARCHIVE OF CARIBBEAN RELATIONS
1 Feeling the Archipelagic Confederation: Ramón Emeterio Betances and the Confederación Antillana
2 Embodying Oceanic Sovereignties: Luisa Capetillo and the Tribuna on the Street
3 Commanding the Islands’ Liberation: Pedro Albizu Campos and the Partido Nacionalista
PART II: POLITICAL PERFORMANCES IN PUERTO RICO’S AFFECTIVE ARCHIVE OF CARIBBEAN RELATIONS
4 Tidal Relations of Art, Struggle, and Liberation: Agua, Sol y Sereno, Amigxs del MAR, Comuna Caribe, Mujeres que Abrazan la Mar, and Coalición 8M
5 Sea, Salt, Survive: Teresa Hernández’s Multitudinously Small Art
Coda: The Liquid Homeland of Our Reparative and Sovereign Relations, or, For the Love of Us
About the Author
Puerto Rico is typically described as an unincorporated and non-sovereign territory of the United States. But, as Beatriz Llenín-Figueroa argues convincingly, the world’s largest subnational island jurisdiction by population needs to be re-cast as part of an abundant Caribbean archipelago. Here is a richly undisciplined book of Puerto Rico as ‘coastal poetics;’ one which takes its readers on a liquid journey of lavishly entwined forms and lines, of word and body, on land and sea. Affect, Archive, Archipelago fleshes Puerto Rico/Borikén as a ‘work in progress’ in multiple ways; through the lens of this book, Puerto Rico becomes a place where its characters—unlike the US ‘territory’—are central, communitarian, and sovereign.
From islands as laboratories for power to islands as laboratories for emancipation, or as pauses in a vast oceanic stream of portable relations, affects, and memories; such forces coalesce with rigorous scholarship in Beatriz Llenín-Figueroa’s moveable theory. Rather than distant academic methodologies, the streams that run into this oceanic discourse carry intimate readings of historical and contemporary narratives and forms of creative thought, resistance, and struggle for freedom in communitarian-artistic-bodily sovereignties that include Caribbean performance art and thought as practices of emancipation. Casting a new, rigorous look at Puerto Rican heroic figures and revolutionary metanarratives, Llenín-Figueroa brings these figures closer to the causes they loved. Llenín-Figueroa’s work in this impressive, beautifully written book builds a model of rigorous scholarship as a labor of solidarity, and therefore, as a tool for the understanding of issues that pertain not only to small places but also to the planet as a living, archipelagic entity of subtly connected bodies and loves.
Affect, Archive, Archipelago arranges decolonial and libertarian texts from the Puerto Rican archive and contemporary activism and performance art into a unique, compelling constellation. Rigorous yet unconstrained by academic conventions, the writing is bodily, dialogic, blending lucidity and revery, raiding and retooling theory. It renders urgent submerged desires for another, transcendent collectivity, reading Betances and Albizu Campos like never before while redeeming Capetillo’s rebel anarchofeminism for the present. It amplifies empathetically the new artistic voices that are performing a dense and intense reimagining of the space and limits of the archipelago. It points to new horizons of the practical, where other sovereignties can be discerned, beyond the nation-state toward the Caribbean, beyond discourse toward the body, beyond logos toward affect, beyond the archive to the street. Affect, Archive, Archipelago is a necessary book for an archipelago surviving disaster and resisting dispossession and displacement.
Affect, Archive, Archipelago: Puerto Rico’s Sovereign Caribbean Lives is an important contribution to the ‘relational’ and ‘archipelagic’ turns sweeping island scholarship over the last few decades, as well as to Caribbean and Puerto Rican studies more specifically. Inventive, challenging, and original, the book can be situated within this broad range of scholarship which today seeks to disrupt modern and colonial ontological world-making, fixed grids of space and time, that have reductively framed the figure of the island and islander as liminal and in need of modernity’s linear telos of progress. Pushing against this, this book, like other contemporary work, positively foregrounds island and islander relational ways of being and antologies, bringing to the fore the rich complexity of relational entanglements, movements, and undercurrents, framing these productively as contributing to a generative decolonializing impulse.
Watch the book launch on YouTube here.