“The Gifts of the Hurricane:” Reimagining Post-María Puerto Rico through Comics
Keywords:decoloniality, decolonial imaginary, Puerto Rico, comics, graphic novels, Hurricane María, tropical storms, climate change
Although the media framed Hurricanes Irma and María and their aftermath as a tragedy, and indeed it was, a small literary canon has emerged that explores the storms as an opportunity to rethink Puerto Rico’s future. The aftermath of the hurricanes impacted cultural production two-fold; by forcing writers to engage with climate change, while also rethinking the colonial relationship that Puerto Rico has with the United States. Looking specifically at selections from English- and Spanish-language comic anthologies Ricanstruction (2018), Puerto Rico Strong (2018) and Nublado: Escombros de María (2018) as well as single-author graphic novels like María and Temporada (2019), I explore how authors used Hurricane María as a catalyst to reimagine and recreate a more autonomous future for the island through decolonial imaginaries, a notion laid out by Emma Pérez. Despite their different approaches to Puerto Rico’s future, the comics’ commonality lies in counter-narratives that espouse community values, indigeneity, innovation, and reclamation of nature as a means to confront hardship. Together they produce alternative modalities for transcending the vulnerabilities of debilitating disasters brought on by climate change. They offer a return to pre-colonial values combined with new technologies to empower the island to break from the United States and withstand future storms.
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