Rodríguez-Rivera, Pagan-Peña — Session III

Psychological impact of United Sates’ colonialism in Puerto Rico: A study on political history, systemic oppression, and cultural identity

Rebecca Rodríguez-Rivera and Julissa Pagan-Peña (Adler School of Professional Psychology, Clinical Psychology)

According to the Supreme Court, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory, Caribbean island that belongs to, but is not part of, the Unites States. Island-born Puerto Ricans’ cultural identity is shaped by an ambiguous political status that has been carried for over 500 years of colonization. Exploring the psychological impact and long-term consequences of the United States’ colonialism in Puerto Rico involves an exploration of the colonization history that has shaped Puerto Ricans’ self-concept and cultural identity. Colonialism remains a current issue and an unsolved problem, while the United States continues to enforce socially oppressive policies such as the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (P.R.O.M.E.S.A.). Meanwhile, the present economic crisis has led to a historical massive exodus from the Island to the United States. Furthermore, authors will examine the photographic project, “The Oldest Colony” by New York Times photojournalist Erika P. Rodríguez. The presentation will explore how themes throughout Puerto Rican landscape and people’s daily experiences can prompt a discussion about Puerto Ricans’ freedom and identity, and its uncertain future. Implications for mental health, public policy, social justice, education, future research, and the field of clinical psychology in Puerto Rico and the United States are discussed.