Ramón E. Soto-Crespo


On his book Mainland Passage: The Cultural Anomaly of Puerto Rico

Cover Interview of September 13, 2009

In a nutshell

Mainland Passage is a historical and cultural study of the Puerto Rican mass migration to New York City in the 1940s and how this migration ultimately created a Puerto Rican cultural borderland.  I call this crucial migration the mainland passage because it served to strengthen Puerto Rico’s political relationship with the United States.

The book describes how this passage to the mainland was coordinated with the creation of a new state apparatus in Puerto Rico—the borderland state.  As a new form of political belonging, the borderland state combines attributes from conventional political forms (such as the sovereign nation-state and the federated state), but refuses to be either.

Mainland Passage elucidates how these two historical events, the mainland passage and the creation of the borderland state, mark a departure from conventional political and national forms.  The Puerto Rico status debate has managed to devalue these historical events and as a result the most discussed options, of statehood or independence, represent false political alternatives.