Race and Nation in Puerto Rican Folklore: Franz Boas and John Alden Mason in Porto Rico


Rafael Ocasio (Agnes Scott College)

Following the Spanish American War of 1898, U.S. academic institutions started field explorations of Puerto Rican folklore. Franz Boas, founding father of U.S. anthropology, assisted by anthropologist and linguist John Alden Mason, gathered on the island hundreds of riddles, poetry and folk stories, published in The Journal of American Folklore (1916 through 1929). I trace Boas’s trip to Puerto Rico in 1915, highlighting his collection of “Porto Rican” folk tales as examples of representations of a strong cultural identity. These oral folk tales reveal strategies for cultural survival, including preservation of native traditions.

Part of 26-05 Race, Ethnicity, and Nation in the History of Folklore and Folklife Studies, Tuesday, October 19, 5:15 pm–6:45 pm