West Building, 3rd Floor,
A Conversation about Perspectives on Migration Centro researcher Carlos Vargas Ramos will let us in on some of the reasons Puerto Ricans do not vote at higher rates, despite their being citizens. Prof. Edgardo Meléndez will discuss the current debate over transnationalism and migration. The two scholars will offer their points at Centro’s first Research Seminar of the semester.
Vargas Ramos, whose most recent peer-reviewed article is titled “Puerto Ricans: Citizens and Migrants— A Cautionary Tale,’’ notes that “When you compare Puerto Ricans with Latin American immigrants, the first have citizenship – they can come and go as they please while Latin American immigrants can’t. Therefore, some may say Puerto Ricans have an advantage, particularly in the exercise of their citizenship. But citizenship is not just a juridical trait, it is also a trait that is practiced. It is put to the test. Granted, Puerto Ricans can come and go as they please, however they do not operate politically in the same manner as other people in the U.S. society. It is this paradox that adds intricate layers to this discussion.”
Vargas-Ramos, who was a legislative aide in the New York City Council prior to joining Centro’s staff, continues explaining the paradox in the practice of citizenship according to place. “In the place where Puerto Ricans can exercise freely their political rights of citizenship – specifically voting – namely in the United States, they do not participate to the same extent as other people who reside in the U.S. as citizens. Puerto Ricans participation rates are lower. Interestingly enough, in the place where Puerto Ricans do not enjoy the same levels of political rights as citizens of the political system, namely Puerto Rico, their levels of participation are much higher.”
Dr. Meléndez, who is currently writing a book on migration and politics in Puerto Rico and the U.S., will add invaluable perspectives into this discussion. In his article “Puerto Rican Migration, the Colonial State, and Transnationalism,” he concludes that given the particular historical construction of colonialism on the island, Puerto Rican migration is best understood as a colonial migration: the movement of colonial citizens from the colonial periphery to the metropolitan territory.
Centro events coordinator Evelyn Collazo promised exciting points of view from “two scholars presenting research of great importance on a topic that deserves attention. We anticipate a lively discussion between the presenters and the audience.”
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