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Books > History > Americas > Caribbean & West Indies > B00HFFCGA0
  1. Imposing Decency: The Politics of Sexuality and Race in Puerto Rico, 1870-1920 (American encounters/global interactions)
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  2. Imposing Decency: The Politics of Sexuality and Race in Puerto Rico, 1870-1920 (American encounters/global interactions)

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Feminists, socialists, Afro-Puerto Rican activists, and elite politicians join laundresses, prostitutes, and dissatisfied wives in populating the pages of Imposing Decency. Through her analyses of Puerto Rican anti-prostitution campaigns, attempts at reforming marriage, and working-class ideas about free love, Eileen J. Suárez Findlay exposes the race-related double standards of sexual norms and practices in Puerto Rico between 1870 and 1920, the period that witnessed Puerto Rico’s shift from Spanish to U.S. colonialism.
In showing how political projects and alliances in Puerto Rico were affected by racially contingent definitions of “decency” and “disreputability,” Findlay argues that attempts at moral reform and the state’s repression of “sexually dangerous” women were weapons used in batttles between elite and popular, American and Puerto Rican, and black and white. Based on a thorough analysis of popular and elite discourses found in both literature and official archives, Findlay contends that racialized sexual norms and practices were consistently a central component in the construction of social and political orders. The campaigns she analyzes include an attempt at moral reform by elite male liberals and a movement designed to enhance the family and cleanse urban space that ultimately translated into repression against symbollically darkened prostitutes. Findlay also explores how U.S. officials strove to construct a new colonial order by legalizing divorce and how feminist, labor, and Afro-Puerto Rican political demands escalated after World War I, often focusing on the rehabilitation and defense of prostitutes.
Imposing Decency forces us to rethink previous interpretations of political chronologies as well as reigning conceptualizations of both liberalism and the early working-class in Puerto Rico. Her work will appeal to scholars with an interest in Puerto Rican or Latin American studies, sexuality and national identity, women in Latin America, and general women’s studies.

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Eileen J. Suárez Findlay
Kindle Edition
Kindle eBook
Duke University Press Books
Duke University Press Books
Duke University Press Books
Duke University Press Books
Most Helpful Customer Reviews

I bought this book because both sides of my family are from Puerto Rico. I grew up in NY & grew up learning little about the history there. This book was so great. It talks lots about what women's lives were like, primarily living in Ponce. It offers various examples of real cases that involved prostitution, spouse physical abuse, life of working class women as well as upper class, the effects the US had once they colonized Puerto Rico & introduced divorce as well as more job opportunities & political rights that Spain forbid. it was really informative but in a pleasing way. I enjoyed it & recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about PR's roots & the 1900's women's history on the island.
Studying Puerto Rican history can be quite a challenge when there are minimal books on the subject. However, thanks to Eileen Suarez and Luis Figueroa (Sugar, Slavery and Freedom) the history of Puerto Rico comes alive in a rich and historic narrative. I especially enjoy the book's concentration on Ponce the birthplace of my maternal grandmother. This book is a must for serious students of Puerto Rican history.
I am the grandchild of a Puerto Rican woman who lived on the island about the time this book was written. I was absolutely fascinated by the book and found it explained a lot about attitudes toward race and sexuality that prevailed in my own family that I'd always found contradictory and inexplicable.
I generally avoid books written by academicians because their writing style is usually turgid, wordy and devoid of life. Not so this book. While it does carefully document its subject, the writing is lively and engaging.
A must-read for anyone who wants insight into a fascinating aspect of Puerto Rican culture.
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