Discuss the meaning of the types of objects that predominate in the representation of jíbaro culture.

In your answers use all the knowledge you have acquired throughout the semester.

Each question should between at least two-and-a-hal doubled-spaced pages.There are three questions.

Be sure to focus your answer on what is being asked, 2 points for each failure to follow instructions.

Question # 1
1. Recent work in anthropology and cultural studies has been increasingly concerned with the politics of collecting and exhibiting culture at museums. As you’ve read and discussed throughout the semester, the dominant discourse on Puerto Ricanness centers on the highland peasants (jíbaros) and their supposedly Hispanic heritage. As Babín claims “the jíbaro represents that which is most profound, resistant and pure element of the Puerto Rican nationality.” This dominant discourse basically aims to preserve the material culture and traditional practices of an ‘imagined’ Hispanic, Catholic, rural country against the backdrop of U.S. colonialism, industrialization, urbanization, and migration.

With its emphasis on the harmonious integration of groups and cultures the dominant discourse tends to subordinate all heritages—and specially the African—to the Spanish, and to ignore the cultural contributions of other groups that came later (among others Corsicans, Americans, Cubans, Dominicans, Nuyoricans).

In this question you will look at and analyze the public representation of the dominant ideology (i.e., official) of Puerto Rican culture through the Vidal Collection and exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH) http://americanhistory.si.edu/vidal/. Carefully examine the web site and familiarize yourself with all its pages. Be sure to look at the photos and at the objects in the collection.

Write an essay where you discuss the presentation/representation of the dominant Hispanicist ideology through the Vidal Collection and exhibit at the NMAH. In the essay discuss the following points:

1. Assess through the exhibit the nationalist project to protect and preserve Puerto Rican folk traditions in the face of increasing Americanization and change. [How is this done in terms of the objects that are presented?]

2. Discuss the meaning of the types of objects that predominate in the representation of jíbaro culture.

3. How does the exhibition perpetuates the founding myth of “The Great Puerto Rican Family” and of the harmonious integration of all sectors of the society—beyond racial and class fissures? [Discuss this by analyzing the objects collected and presented.]

4. How is Puerto Rican culture presented to the American public?

5. How would you make this representation of Puerto Rican culture more inclusive of groups and of epochs.

Question # 2

2. Issues of group identity and representation can be found everywhere. When commercial interests intrude into the discussion of ‘who gets represented’ and ‘how they are represented’ the controversies created can be quite poignant. Such was the case in late 1997 when Mattel introduced to the market a “Puerto Rican Barbie.” The reception that the “Puerto Rican Barbie” received was mixed. While Island Puerto Rican warmly embraced it, Mainland Puerto Rican tended to be more critical of its representativeness.

Read Mireya Navarro’s “A New Barbie in Puerto Rico Divides Island and Mainland” (New York Times, 12/27/1997, p.1) article on the controversies around the Puerto Rican Barbie. [http://www.nytimes.com/1997/12/27/us/a-new-barbie-in-puerto-rico-divides-island-and-mainland.html]

Also study the following WebPages:
—For a close look at the Puerto Rican Barbie:
—On Barbie dolls:
—On Barbie ethnic dolls—examples:
—Barbie dolls in Latin America:
—The Puerto Rican Barbie:

Write an essay in the form of a letter to the editor of a newspaper where you take issue (either agreeing or disagreeing) with the depiction of the Puerto Rican Barbie. Center your argument on the discussion of whether commercial interests corrupt a representation of culture. In your argument be sure to clearly enumerate at least three things why you agree or disagree. Also be conciliatory by writing one last paragraph suggesting how could that doll be made more representative of the culture.

Among the required issues to touch upon are:

o Race—how race is idealized and represented;

o How can a specific representation of a group be both inclusive and exclusive of members of the group;

o What could be the different ways to represent an identity;

o The value of different heritages and how they are represented;

o The conundrum of the commercialism of culture and cultural practices—that is, how commercialization can undervalue and/or highlight the representation of a group.

Question #3

3. The system of racial classification and recognition in Puerto Rico, and to a certain extent in the US, allows for manipulation as individuals try to escape the insidious effects of racism and racial prejudice. The manipulation of the system is ultimately based on the notion that while all Puerto Ricans are racially mixed the prefered mixtures are those that tend to bleach (blanquear). The insidious effects of the system of racial classification is such that there is among some a never ending effort to move from one racial classification into another.

Using the essays by Godreau (“Slippery Semantics”) and Duany (“Neither White nor Black”) discuss in an essay:

· how the system of racial classification is structured

· how it emphasizes whitening and denigrates blackness.

With what you’ve learned from Godreau and Duany’s essay in mind discuss the racial reality and manipulation described in the essay by Haslip-Viera “Changed Identities: A Racial Portrait of Two Extended Families, 1909-Present” (inside a special folder in the <Course Readings Area>). Among the themes to discuss are:

· what are the differences between appearance and genetic heritage?

· how was race characterized by this family?

· what efforts were undertaken to change the racial identity?

· What have you learned from this?

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