Reparations and the Colonial Dilemma: The Insurmountable Hurdles and Yet Transformative Benefits
19 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2017
Date Written: 2002
The Seventh Annual Latina and Latino Critical Race Theory ("LatCrit") Conference held in May 2002 at the University of Oregon, not unlike other efforts in the movement, addressed a panoply of challenging, provocative, and controversial issues. Perhaps one the most intellectually interesting and yet troubling panels addressed reparations for the inhabitants of United States' colonial territories. Specifically, the panel was titled "Reparations, Redress, and Remedies: Undoing the Legacy of Colonialism and Imperialism." Members of the academy as well as a representative of Puerto Rico's Independence Party participated in a lively discussion and debate. Although the articles resulting from this panel touch upon Puerto Rico's colonial dilemma, not all addressed the issue of reparations. It is the topic of reparations that is the focus of this cluster introduction. The topic of reparations provokes strong feelings because, among other reasons, it is a request of the dominant culture to atone for past wrongs, primarily through monetary relief. For many, the response to any request for reparations, but particularly for a request from the inhabitants of Puerto Rico, would be: "Why reparations?" Not unlike reparations claims for Native Hawaiians, opponents to a Puerto Rican reparations effort would probably deem the reparations claims unavailing because the opponents simply would fail to perceive that any legal wrong has occurred. This cluster introduction will address this question of "why reparations." Before addressing the nascent Puerto Rican reparations debate, a brief description of LatCrit theory is in order.
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