Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Bomba of San Mateo De Cangrejo: The Historic Suppression of Bombero/as to Whiten Puerto Rico and Their On-Going Resistance
by Tejada, Eileene Cruz, Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2019, 270; 13884385
Abstract (Summary)

My dissertation examines how the Bomba tradition originates as a site of resistance that heals, restores, sustains, and liberates the Puerto Rican subject. Inquiring into the formation of Puerto Rican subjectivity and its manifestation as Bombero/a subjectivity, I explore the processes that during the colonial era merged the Taíno and African communities, transforming them into Puerto Rican subjects. I examine political and economic conditions under which Bomba came to exist on the archipelago that is Puerto Rico. I compare and contrast the experience of free Africans in the San Mateo de Cangrejo region of Puerto Rico with that of the Africans enslaved on the plantations in the municipality of Arecibo, where Bomba has been extinguished. I evaluate the elites’ implementation of policies and economic processes that produce, fund, and enforce elite discourses and legalities with the aim of securing the suppression of blackness, particularly, the Bomba tradition. I found policies and economies established in Puerto Rico that created and enforced standards, which enable elites to discipline Taínos and Africans in ways that achieve their goal of modernizing Puerto Rico by whitening the country. The context in which elite assaults on Bomba were orchestrated was not just due to a regime of colonial rule, but it was also due to the system of white supremacy undergirding the colonial system. I argue that this term is not to be construed as an ideology. It must be understood as a polity, as a form of governance, as a discourse, and as a set of whitening practices aimed at extinguishing indigeneity and blackness. The assault on indigeneity and blackness, as deployed on Bomba served to undermine the sovereignty of the Puerto Rican subject. This study of Bomba in Puerto Rico and in Oakland, California evolved into one in which I recover my own roots while it also re-centers a nearly forgotten alliance between Taíno and Africans who forged close relations, creating a communally-based ritual practice that enabled them to sustain indigeneity and blackness in the face of its suppression and affirm Bomba as a major Puerto Rican tradition of restoration and liberation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mesbah, Targol
Commitee: Cepeda, Julia C., M'Panya, Mutombo
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Anthropology and Social Change
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 80/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Black studies, Cultural anthropology, Caribbean Studies, American studies, Hispanic American studies, African American Studies
Keywords: Afro-Latino, Afro-Taino, Bomba, Puerto Rico, San mateo de cangrejo, Taino, California
Publication Number: 13884385
ISBN: 978-1-392-19801-8
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