The Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico (autonomous commonwealth), established in 1952, redefined the political relationship between the United States and its colony. The ambiguous political status — autonomy without sovereignty, self-government without self-determination—created new social, political, and cultural contradictions. The island's first elected governor, Luis Muñoz Marín, was committed to promoting an essentialized Puerto Rican culture centered around the idealization of traditional rural life, while simultaneously creating a new democratic citizenship, both of which would bolster the new government's legitimacy before its people. In this article, Puerto Rican scholar Cati Marsh Kennerley explores the collective work done by the División de Educación de la Comunidad (DivEdCo), the government educational agency charged with promulgating Muñoz Marín's ideas about Puerto Rican culture and citizenship. Marsh Kennerley draws from a wide variety of sources to reconstruct an untold history, analyze its contradictions, obtain lessons from DivEdCo's negotiations, and point out its relevance for understanding contemporary Puerto Rican culture.

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