“The Gifts of the Hurricane:” Reimagining Post-María Puerto Rico through Comics

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.25120/etropic.20.2.2021.3815

Keywords:

decoloniality, decolonial imaginary, Puerto Rico, comics, graphic novels, Hurricane María, tropical storms, climate change

Abstract

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.

Author Biography

Daniel Arbino, University of Texas at Austin, USA

Dr Daniel Arbino is the Head of Collection Development at the University of Texas at Austin’s Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection. He holds a PhD from the University of Minnesota in Latin American literatures and cultures (2013) and his research interests include Critical Race Theory and post-colonial articulations in Caribbean and U.S. Latino literatures. His recent publications have appeared in Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, Chiricú, Label Me Latina/o and eTropic journal.

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Published

2021-09-10

How to Cite

Arbino, D. (2021). “The Gifts of the Hurricane:” Reimagining Post-María Puerto Rico through Comics . ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 20(2), 156–179. https://doi.org/10.25120/etropic.20.2.2021.3815