New Exhibit on Military Violence Opens in Vieques, Puerto Rico

The Conde Mirasol Fort Museum in Vieques, part of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture (IPRC), announces the exhibit, “Killing Mapepe: Sex and Death in Cold War Puerto Rico,” which opens on Saturday, July 2, 2011, at 7:00pm.

Description: Revealing a unique collaboration between photographer Bonnie Donohue and cultural anthropologist Katherine McCaffrey, the exhibition “Killing Mapepe” explores a Cold War era homicide in Vieques, Puerto Rico during the U.S. military occupation in the 1950s. Drawing on newly discovered and meticulously-examined archival materials, the exhibition gives voice to witnesses, participants and bystanders of the killing of an elderly Afro-Puerto Rican by U.S. Marines.

On view until September 11, 2011, the exhibit engages viewers in a multi-faceted exploration of sex, violence and military justice during a transformative moment in Puerto Rican history. Combining archival photographs, films, service records, excerpts from investigative reports and interviews with surviving witnesses, the exhibition weaves a complex narrative that invites viewers to contemplate the consequences of war and military culture. This exhibit is part of the IPRC museum project to educate about important topics for our communities. Donohue and McCaffrey contribute greatly to this process by sharing efforts and materials from several years of investigation in military and civilian archives in the US and Puerto Rico, as well as anthropological work that spans more than a decade.

Bonnie Donohue is chair of the photography department at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She is a photographer and video artist whose work maps places of disruption, conflict and loss while examining race, class, economy, politics and cultural erasure. She has been working on the island of Vieques for over 10 years, and exhibited “Vieques: A Long Way Home” in 2006. She is currently writing about the mid-20th century military presence in Vieques, and is producing a large scale public art event celebrating the transition of residual military architecture from military use to cultural use, premiering in January of 2012.

Katherine McCaffrey is associate professor of anthropology at Montclair State University in New Jersey. She has conducted long term ethnographic and historical research in Vieques, and is the author of Military Power and Popular Protest: The U.S. Navy in Vieques, Puerto Rico (Rutgers University Press, 2002).

[Many thanks to Robert Rabin for bringing this item to our attention.]

The exhibition is available to travel, and may be booked by contacting Robert Rabin, Director of the Museo Fuerte Conde de Mirasol, by phone at (787) 375-0525 or (787) 741-1717, or via email to

Image above from Donohue’s “Vieques: A Long Way Home”

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