Dr. Hugo Viera-Vargas

Dr. Hugo Viera-Vargas Presentation

Bishop Library Atrium

The imperial gaze that followed the United States’ invasion of Puerto Rico and Cuba after 1898 fostered a literary corpus that both speculated about the islands’ economic prospects and revealed an exotic fascination with the customs and lives of its inhabitants. The written descriptions by war correspondents, journalists, military personnel, adventurers, and opportunists alike were incisive and anchored on cultural and racial superiority premises, reinforcing uneven power relations between the US, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. This discourse was bolstered by the use and popularity of certain aesthetic ideas that classified the sounds and music of both Caribbean Islands. This talk contends that the sonorous discourse—a dimension of the emerging US colonial discourse toward the Caribbean—was racially and politically appropriate to fit the United States’ political and economic agendas toward Puerto Rico and Cuba. The transformation of the sonorous world into texts was not a politically neutral description of cultural manifestations but rather a subtle subterfuge to justify and perpetuate new forms of dominance in the Caribbean.

Hugo R. Viera-Vargas holds a Ph.D. in Latin American History from Indiana University in Bloomington and is currently an Assistant Professor of Caribbean and Latin American Studies and Music at New College of Florida.

*This is event was rescheduled from its original date in October.