This Website serves as an archive of student work produced in the course Race, Gender, Colonialism, and Climate Change: Puerto Rico After Maria taught by Yarimar Bonilla for the Department of Africana, Puerto Rican, and Latino Studies at Hunter College-CUNY in Fall of 2019.
This course used the context of Post-Hurricane Puerto Rico as a case study from which to think about how structures of inequality turn climatic events into social disasters. In the process we tackled the following questions: What is the difference between an emergency and a disaster? Why are some societies and communities more vulnerable to disasters than others? How are societies and communities impacted by the repeated experience of extreme events over time? How do communities imagine and build post-disaster futures?
The textbook for the course was Aftershocks of Disaster: Puerto Rico Before and After the Storm, Haymarket Press, 2019 supplemented by readings from Puerto Rico Syllabus.
The course had three major assignments that are featured on this site:
1. A Personal Reflection on the two year anniversary of Maria. For this piece many students wrote about media coverage of the storm, their personal family experiences with Maria, or about the structural silence that shapes US relations to its colonial territories.
2. A Profile Piece of a disaster survivor with whom they conducted a personal interview. This was not limited to survivors of Hurricane Maria, and indeed many students chose survivors of disasters in other parts of the Caribbean or in the United States, including those who survived Hurricane Sandy in New York. To carry this out students received guidance and inspiration from CUNY Doctoral Student, Sarah Molinari and WNYC producer and journalist Alana Casanova-Burgess, both of whom have done impactful writing and reporting about post-hurricane Puerto Rico.
3. A written or visual OpeEd offering their final reflections and recommendations on the lessons that Puerto Rico can offer for thinking about climate change, the politics of disaster recovery, and what they felt were neglected issues in the public debate about Post-Hurricane Puerto Rico. In these projects they drew inspiration from the work of other class guests, including members of the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo, and documentary film-maker Juan Carlos Davila.