2018 Conference

Call for Papers:

Navigating Insecurity:
Crisis, Power, and Protest in Puerto Rican Communities

Puerto Rican Studies Association (PRSA) 13th Biennial Conference
Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey
October 26-28, 2018


The devastation caused by Hurricane Maria as well as the prolonged debt and economic crises affecting Puerto Rico have prompted widespread discussions and concerns regarding the various forms of insecurity that Puerto Ricans face. For years, the local and federal government imposed austerity measures in order to service Puerto Rico’s debt, which has adversely affected daily life for large swaths of the Puerto Rican population. Public sector workers and retirees fear that their pensions might vanish, students and their parents face unprecedented school closures, young people lament the few options for well-paid employment, and low-income individuals are expected to get by with less assistance from the state.

In the months since Hurricane Maria made landfall, these conditions have only worsened. Hurricane Maria ravaged the physical landscape, took lives, and left behind trauma and feelings of abandonment. Two months after the hurricane half the population was still without power, many without access to potable water, food, or medicine.  Many experienced major disparities in accessing and receiving aid from local and federal agencies, highlighting an unequal landscape that has only worsened in the aftermath

Given the situation on the archipelago, Puerto Ricans are leaving in numbers not seen since the Great Migration of the mid-twentieth century. Puerto Ricans joining their compatriots in the diaspora, however, often find themselves trading one set of social and economic insecurities for another. The challenge of finding stable employment and housing are only the first faced by these recent migrants. Additionally, they have migrated at a time when xenophobic and racist hostilities are running high following the contentious 2016 presidential election and the growth of anti-immigrant policies and attitudes in the last decades. For their part, Puerto Ricans in the diaspora continue to experience forms of sociocultural, racial, economic, and linguistic discrimination while also pursuing social and economic mobility. Well-established and emerging Puerto Rican communities in the United States are forced to deal with the effects of gentrification, criminalization, and disinvestment.

While Hurricane Maria and the economic crisis have thrown into sharp relief the forms of insecurity that many Puerto Ricans on the archipelago and in the diaspora live with, we ask how insecurity may be considered a persistent aspect of puertorriqueñidad. Colonial rule, military service, migration, natural disasters, low wages, unemployment and recurrent debt crises have generated immediate and lasting forms of insecurity for Puerto Ricans. This conference invites submissions that discuss how Puerto Ricans have experienced, negotiated, challenged, and/or prevailed over conditions of insecurity both historically and in the contemporary moment. Further, we encourage submissions that not only outline conditions of insecurity but also show how Puerto Ricans have persevered and thrived in these conditions building vibrant communities and forging solidarity with other marginalized groups. We especially want to encourage cultural producers and scholars of art and culture to engage with this year’s theme of navigating insecurity.

We encourage submissions from activists and social movement leaders to present narratives about the responses to Hurricane Maria.

Proposals related to these themes are encouraged:

  • Natural disasters and their consequences
  • Community activism, mutual support, and autogestión
  • Debt, poverty, and financial insecurity
  • Sustainability and recovery
  • Environmental (in)justice
  • Foundations, fundraising and relief efforts
  • Colonialism, neocolonialism, and postcolonialism
  • Racial inequality and anti-Blackness
  • Neoliberalism and the decline of the Welfare State
  • American Citizenship and its limitations
  • Addressing mental health and trauma
  • Privatization and labor struggles
  • Crime and violence
  • Housing access, gentrification, and homelessness
  • Political repression and surveillance
  • Business elites and investment in times of crisis
  • Border crossing, migration and (re)settlement
  • Congress, party politics and the Status Question
  • Educational access and school closures
  • Puerto Ricans and other racial/ethnic groups
  • Artistic expression and creative resistance
  • Protest, social justice, and revolutionary movements
  • Puerto Ricans and immigration/legality controversies
  • Puerto Ricans in Florida and “new destinations”
  • Puerto Rican civil rights movements and organizations

Submission Information:

We welcome proposals for individual paper presentations, panels, works-in-progress reports, roundtable, workshops or creative presentations (all sessions must include 3-4 presenters.  Commentators/respondents are not counted in this number.

We also welcome individual proposals for papers or other formal presentations.

Every proposal should include the full contact information including email address, professional title and rank, institutional/organization affiliation; and 250 word abstract describing the arguments, sources, contributions and importance of the work proposed.

Panel, workshop or other session proposers are responsible for assembling and submitting all the materials for their session.

There will be a space for video exhibits.  Please contact conference organizers if you would like to present a video production at the conference.

Submission does not guarantee acceptance.

Submissions are limited to one paper proposal (or other form of participation) per person in a panel, round table, or workshop and one additional role per person as organizer or commentator/respondent.

Proposed submissions are due by February 12, 2018 and should be submitted using the 2018 PRSA Biennial Conference Online Submission Form

If your organization or Department is interested in having a table at the conference, please contact local organizers.  There is a $150 charge for a table payable at the time of submission.

There will be a table with a book display (not sales) monitored by our staff.  If you would like to display your book, please communicate with conference organizers about sending a copy. Institutions or organizations who wish to support PRSA by placing an ad in the program brochure please contact PRSA president (listed below).

Further updates and information about the biennial conference including hotel will be available at the PRSA webpage (http://prsa.uconn.edu) and we encourage all applicants to make sure they are on the PRSA email list available through this same link.

We strongly encourage all to become PRSA members and immediately register for the conference upon submission of your proposals.  All accepted paper proposals are contingent on the payment of Membership and Registration by the deadlines stated below.  All participants at PRSA will have to be registered by the FIRST deadline to appear in the program.   All PRSA participants will need to register or they will not be allowed to enter sessions or panels.  This policy will be followed without exceptions.

The registration deadline is June 1.  All approved presenters and participants must register by this deadline otherwise they will not appear in the program.  Late registration will be open through August 1 but will incur a $30 charge. After August 1, registration and on-site registration will incur a $40 surcharge.

To become a PRSA Member please complete the 2017-2018 PRSA Membership Form

To register for the conference please complete the 2018 PRSA Late Conference Registration Form

Local Arrangements Committee: Aldo Lauria Santiago, and Lilia Fernandez (School of Arts and Sciences).

Please direct conference related inquiries to:

Proposals and local arrangements: Aldo Lauria Santiago, alauria@lcs.rutgers.edu

Finances, registration, membership fees, etc:  PRSA secretariat at El Instituto, University of Connecticut: Charles Santiago charles.venator@uconn.edu

Other questions: PRSA President:  William Velez velez@uwm.edu

Local Hosts for PRSA 2018: The Rutgers Latino Studies Research Initiative and the Henry Rutgers Term Chair in Latino Studies.

PRSA Secretariat: El Instituto–Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies, University of Connecticut.

Program Committee Co-Chairs

Aldo Antonio Lauria Santiago
Rutgers University
Department of Latino and Caribbean Studies and
Department of History
Email: alauria@lcs.rutgers.edu

Program Committee Members

Marisol Lebrón
Dickinson College
Department of American Studies
Email: lebronm@dickinson.edu

Sarah Molinary
Graduate Center, CUNY
Email: sarahmolinari89@gmail.com

Charles R. Venator-Santiago
University of Connecticut
Department of Political Science and El Instituto
Email: Charles.venator@uconn.edu

Conference co-sponsors:  Humanities Dean, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University; Department of Latino and Caribbean Studies, Rutgers University; Rutgers Center for Latin American Studies, Rutgers Office of Diversity and Inclusion-New Brunswick Chancellor, Rutgers Advanced Institute for Critical Caribbean Studies; Latin@ Studies Working Group, Rutgers Newark; Rutgers Center for Latino Arts and Culture.

We look forward to seeing you at the 2018 PRSA Biennial Conference!