Founded in 1987, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the CENTRO Journal, the leading academic publication devoted exclusively to Puerto Rican Studies. With its Spring issue, the journal commemorated another important anniversary for the Puerto Rican community: the 100th year since the signing into law of the Jones-Shafroth Act, which extended U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans in 1917. For the new Summer issue, however, the focus returns to a wide spectrum of the Puerto Rican experience.
Highlights include several articles in which the Centro Library & Archives located in East Harlem played a crucial role in facilitating research. “We’re always delighted by the diversity of research that people do,” says Aníbal Arocho, Library Manager. “We try to create a space for researchers to work and connect them to the right person. To us, it’s really surprising what can be produced using the primary and secondary sources we have available here. And it’s our job to guide people, whether they be researchers or maybe they just want to connect to their culture and heritage, and provide them with access and context for what it is they want to do.”
Melissa Coss Aquino, for example, was able to examine in the Jesús Colón Papers the letters of Jesús and his wife, Concha. She then analyzed their contents within the broad context of the Puerto Rican migration of the early 20th century, as well as the Colón’s own development as an important writer and political figure among the Puerto Rican community.
Cristina Pérez Jiménez, on the other hand, submitted a close reading of two previously lost poems by Julia de Burgos that were only recently rediscovered in the Jesús Colón Papers at Centro Library & Archives. “La novia del campo” and “Pequeño viaje a tu alma” reinforce many of the idyllic and political themes found in the poet’s work. They are also, as Pérez Jiménez explains, part of the ongoing, still incomplete evolution of de Burgos’ legacy as a dynamic cultural figure.
Moving on, in her essay, Consuelo Martínez-Reyes offers a critical overview of five of the eight theatrical works by Puerto Rican poet and playwright Victor Fragoso that were recently added to the Centro Library & Archives’ collection. Martínez-Reyes focuses on three recurring themes found in the plays, which include “gender, specifically female oppression imposed by societal mores, homosexuality and sexile, and the lives of im/migrants in New York City during the 1970s and 1980s.”
Additionally, Ismael García-Colón’s research on the records of the Migration Division, contained in the massive collection of the Offices of Government of Puerto Rico in the US, takes a look at the history and experience of Puerto Rican farm laborers throughout the 20th century. His study explores the intersections between guestworker programs across the United States, immigration and labor policy, the US-Puerto Rico dynamic, and more.
Rounding out the issue is a case study on a Puerto Rican in Orlando, Florida by Patricia Silver, that reflects on the political intersections between new arrivals from the island and Puerto Ricans arriving from traditional diasporic hubs. There is also an interesting investigation of language use among Puerto Ricans on social media platforms such as Facebook by Kevin S. Carroll and Vanessa Z. Mari. And lastly, Cynthia D. Knittle and Susan A. Orshan provide an analysis of the health choices made by Puerto Rican mothers in Pennsylvania.
The Summer 2017 issue will also mark an important shift to an expanded format for the CENTRO Journal. The bi-annual publication will now release three issues per year, during the Winter, Summer, & Fall months. “Moving to publish CENTRO Journal three times a year is a clear demonstration of the strength of the field of Puerto Rican studies,, as well as Centro’s commitment to the discipline,” says longtime journal editor Xavier Totti, who took over in 2001. “Our new publication schedule will also make the dissemination of scholarly research faster and easier.”