This talk will trace the ways that activists mobilize rage in order to navigate the constraints of colonial capitalism in contemporary Puerto Rico. I argue that the state is preoccupied with the growing rage articulated by Puerto Ricans because rage has the potential to create networks of solidarity grounded in a refusal of the current order. Both the local and federal government have increasingly criminalized articulations of political rage and have utilized the Puerto Rico Police Department to repress displays of rage in the streets. Looking at recent examples, I show that, in their collective rage, Puerto Ricans who had felt silenced by colonial capitalism, misogyny, queer antagonism, and racism have found a way to push back and articulate a different way of living in Puerto Rico.
Marisol LeBrón is an assistant professor in the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She was previously an assistant professor of American studies at Dickinson College and a postdoctoral associate in Latino/a studies in the global South at Duke University. LeBrón received her Ph.D. in American studies from New York University and her bachelor's degree in comparative American studies and Latin American studies from Oberlin College.
LeBrón is an interdisciplinary scholar whose research and teaching focus on social inequality, policing, violence, and protest. Her book, Policing Life and Death: Race, Violence, and Resistance in Puerto Rico (University of California Press, 2019), examines the growth of punitive governance in contemporary Puerto Rico. LeBrón has published her research in a variety of venues including Modern American History, Radical History Review, Journal of Urban History, Souls: A Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, NACLA Report on the Americas, and the edited volume Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter.
Along with Yarimar Bonilla, LeBrón is the co-editor of Aftershocks of Disaster: Puerto Rico Before and After the Storm (Haymarket Books, 2019). Building from the premise that Hurricane Maria is not a singular event, the contributors to this volume document the many shocks that Puerto Ricans have endured before and after the storm. Through reportage, poetry, personal narrative, and scholarly investigation, the contributors show that the effects of Hurricane Maria are best understood as the product of a long-standing colonial disaster.
LeBrón is an active contributor to popular conversations about policing as well as Puerto Rico and its diaspora. She has published op-eds in The Washington Post, The Guardian and Truthout and has been interviewed by a number of news outlets. LeBrón is one of the co-creators and project leaders for the Puerto Rico Syllabus (#PRsyllabus), a digital resource for understanding the Puerto Rican debt crisis. She is also one of the editors for The Abusable Past, a digital project that features unique and original content related to the praxis of radical history in this social and political moment.