New Book—“Soldiers of the Nation: Military Service and Modern Puerto Rico, 1868-1952”


Harry Franqui-Rivera’s Soldiers of the Nation: Military Service and Modern Puerto Rico, 1868-1952 (June 2018) is now available through University of Nebraska Press. Aldo Lauria-Santiago (Rutgers University) writes: “Soldiers of the Nation is the first book to make a coherent case for the significance of military bodies in the formation of Puerto Rico’s colonial history. The book’s real contribution is to show how, with every war and military mobilization, the United States and Puerto Rico wove a complex web of connections, agreements, and participatory hierarchies. [. . .].”

Description (University of Nebraska Press): As the island of Puerto Rico transitioned from Spanish to U.S. imperial rule, the military and political mobilization of popular sectors of its society played important roles in the evolution of its national identities and subsequent political choices. While scholars of American imperialism have examined the political, economic, and cultural aspects of U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico, few have considered the integral role of Puerto Rican men in colonial military service and in helping to consolidate the empire.

In Soldiers of the Nation Harry Franqui-Rivera argues that the emergence of strong and complicated Puerto Rican national identities is deeply rooted in the long history of colonial military organizations on the island. Franqui-Rivera examines the patterns of inclusion-exclusion within the military and the various forms of citizenship that are subsequently transformed into socioeconomic and political enfranchisement.

Analyzing the armed forces as an agent of cultural homogenization, Franqui-Rivera further explains the formation and evolution of Puerto Rican national identities that eventually led to the creation of the Estado Libre Asociado (the commonwealth) in 1952. Franqui-Rivera concludes that Puerto Rican soldiers were neither cannon fodder for the metropolis nor the pawns of the criollo political elites. Rather, they were men with complex identities who demonstrated a liberal, popular, and broad definition of Puertorriqueñidad.

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4 thoughts on “New Book—“Soldiers of the Nation: Military Service and Modern Puerto Rico, 1868-1952”


    While under Spanish rule, Puerto Rico fought alongside the American colonists in the Revolutionary War. Bernardo de Galvez, the governor of Louisiana in 1779, was named general of the Spanish colonial army and led his troop — consisting primarily of Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics — to capture the cities of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Mobile, Alabama; Pensacola, Florida; and St. Louis, Missouri, from the British.

    Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the U.S. under the 1898 Treaty of Paris, and Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory. The Army National Guard formed the Porto Rico Regiment on the island, and on March 2, 1917, thanks to the Jones-Shafroth Act, Puerto Ricans were given U.S. citizenship by birth, though they aren’t allowed to vote for the U.S. president and they receive only 70 percent of Social Security pensions and remains colony of the US after 120 years. Source US Department of Defense

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