Faculty Book: Laird W. Bergad

César J. Ayala and Laird W. Bergad
Agrarian Puerto Rico
(Cambridge University Press, 2020)

Image of book: Agrarian Puerto RicoFundamental tenets of colonial historiography are challenged by showing that U.S. capital investment into this colony did not lead to the disappearance of the small farmer. Contrary to well-established narratives, quantitative data show that the increasing integration of rural producers within the U.S. market led to differential outcomes, depending on pre-existing land tenure structures, capital requirements to initiate production, and demographics. These new data suggest that the colonial economy was not polarized into landless Puerto Rican rural workers on one side and corporate U.S. capitalists on the other. The persistence of Puerto Rican small farmers in some regions and the expansion of local property ownership and production disprove this socioeconomic model. Other aspects of extant Puerto Rican historiography are confronted in order to make room for thorough analyses and new conclusions on the economy of colonial Puerto Rico during the early 20th century.

The book was honored with the Manuel Moreno Fraginals Prize for the Best Book on Caribbean Economic History from the Association of Caribbean Economic Historians.

Bergad is a faculty member of The Graduate Center's Ph.D. Program in History and a distinguished professor of history at Lehman College. He is also the director of the Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies at The Graduate Center.

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Submitted on: OCT 6, 2020

Category: Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies | Faculty Books | History