Early Puerto Rican Cinema and Nation Building: National Sentiments, Transnational Realities, 1897-1940

Early Puerto Rican Cinema and Nation Building: National Sentiments, Transnational Realities, 1897-1940

by Naida Garcia-Crespo


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Early Puerto Rican Cinema and Nation Building focuses on the processes of Puerto Rican national identity formation as seen through the historical development of cinema on the island between 1897 and 1940. Anchoring her work in archival sources in film technology, economy, and education, Naida García-Crespo argues that Puerto Rico’s position as a stateless nation allows for a fresh understanding of national cinema based on perceptions of productive cultural contributions rather than on citizenship or state structures. This book aims to contribute to recently expanding discussions of cultural networks by analyzing how Puerto Rican cinema navigates the problems arising from the connection and/or disjunction between nation and state. The author argues that Puerto Rico’s position as a stateless nation puts pressure on traditional conceptions of national cinema, which tend to rely on assumptions of state support or a bounded nation-state. She also contends that the cultural and business practices associated with early cinema reveal that transnationalism is an integral part of national identities and their development. García-Crespo shows throughout this book that the development and circulation of cinema in Puerto Rico illustrate how the “national” is built from transnational connections.  

Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781684481170
Publisher: Bucknell University Press
Publication date: 06/07/2019
Series: Bucknell Studies in Latin American Literature and Theory Series
Edition description: None
Pages: 250
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

NAIDA GARCÍA-CRESPO is an assistant professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. 

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Established Frames and Images of Puerto Rican Cinema 3

Conceptions of the Puerto Rican Nation 6

An Alternative Approach to the Study of Puerto Rican National Cinema 8

This Study's Framework 11

1 Contexts for a National Cinema: Cultural, Political, and Economic Movements in Puerto Rico (1860-1952) 14

Late Spanish Colonialism through 1898 15

Circumstances and Consequences of the U.S. Invasion 18

Initial U.S. Congressional Rule and the Formation of Puerto Rican Identity 23

Puerto Rican Conceptions of the Nation from 1930 Onward 26

2 Cinema Comes to Puerto Rico: Historical Uncertainties and Ambiguous Identities (1897-1909) 35

Film Exhibition in Turn-of-the-Century Puerto Rico 37

Rumors of War Footage 43

Representing U.S. Colonial Puerto Rico 47

3 Stateless Nationhood, Transnationalism, and the Difficulties of Assigning Nationality: Rafael Colorado in Puerto Rican Historiography (1911-1916) 56

Rafael Colorado, Film Exhibition, and the Transnational Circulation of Cultural Subjects 60

Rafael Colorado as Cinematic Producer: Negotiating the Local and the Global 64

Citizenship in a Stateless Nation: Constructing the Puerto Rican Subject 75

4 In the Company of the Elites: The Discourses and Practices of the Tropical Film Company (1916-1917) 78

Inconsistencies in the Received Histories of the Tropical Film Company 81

The Educational/Cultural Project of the Tropical Film Company 85

The Tropical Film Company's Commercial Aims 91

The End of the Beginning: The Tropical Film Company's Demise and Legacy 100

5 Perilous Paradise: American Assignment and Appropriation of "Puerto Ricanness" (1917-1915) 103

From Big Stick to Good Neighbor; Puerto Rico as Test Site for American Foreign Policy 106

Fictional Puerto Rico and Colonial Angst 108

Puerto Rico's Commercial Production Model 115

U.S. Cinema Falls in Love with the Tropics 119

The MacManus/Pathé Productions 124

Famous Players-Lasky/Paramount Comes to the Island 131

Beyond Fiction: Other Aspects of the Puerto Rican Film Industry in the 1920s 136

6 Making the Nation Profitable: Industry-Centered Transnational Approaches to Filmmaking (1913-1940) 139

The Film Enthusiast: The Career of Juan E. Viguié Cajas 141

Romance tropical: Remaking the Dream 146

The Film Impresario: The Career of Rafael Ramos Cobián 154

Mis dos amoves: The Union of Hollywood and Latin America 155

Los hijos mandan: The Separation of Hollywood and Latin America 160

The End of an Era: The Local Government as Producer 165

Conclusion: Early Puerto Rican Cinema and Stateless Nation Building 168

Finding the National in the Transnational 171

Acknowledgments 175

Notes 177

Bibliography 209

Index 223

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