Findlay’s book, We Are Left Without a Father is in the running for the least transnational work that we have looked at so far. I say this because so much of Findlay’s focus is on the policies and political environment of a national political party within a nation state. The scope and context of her study is on the nation state of Puerto Rico and the national identity created for its people rather than say the experience of the migrant laborers once in the U.S. and how they created their own identity. That is not to say that I did not enjoy the book. I was surprised that the book focused so much on the lead up to the actual migrant program and only spent a chapter or two (the final one) on the life of the migrant workers once in the U.S. It makes sense once we see what the author’s main argument is, but it was still surprising going in at first. This is my own opinion and I’m curious to see what you all think.
The book also brought up a thought regarding the nationality of Puerto Ricans and how it might have affected their transnational identity/experience. Findlay briefly touches on this but I think it might be outside the scope of her book, but did/does the fact that Puerto Ricans are indeed American citizens affect their experience as immigrants in the US and their identity? She does mention that they were treated better than even American citizens from Mexican decent and I wonder if this has anything to do with how Americans viewed them as part of their country?
Findlay’s book was certainly a different kind of transnational history than most of the books we have already read. I agree with Alan that it would have been nice to have more information on the lives of the migrant workers in the US, however it’s possible that that might have resulted in a much longer, less detailed work on the development of the Puerto Rican nation-building and political agency.
I found the discussion of gender to be incredibly intriguing. While politicians were preaching a patriarchal society, the poor labor circumstances in the United States were undermining the rhetoric. Findlay notes the strategies of the PDP to reduce unemployment and population density, while increasing patriarchal mentality, by promoting work in the US. She then acknowledges how these strategies in fact thwarted all of those goals, while simultaneously reinforcing colonial ties, rather than propelling the nation forward as functionally self-sufficient.
It would be interesting to read this work in conjunction with scholarship studying the families in Puerto Rico during the same time period. Findlay wrote that there wasn’t a lot of work on women in the protests, but I would be interested in other works providing individuals, in both Puerto Rico and the US, with more agency than Findlay perhaps had time to do.
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