Lorrin Thomas is an associate professor of history at Rutgers University-Camden, where she teaches Latin American and Caribbean history and the comparative history of the Americas. Her research explores ideas about rights and equality in the twentieth-century Americas. Her first book, Puerto Rican Citizen: History and Political Identity in Twentieth-Century New York City (2010), traces the complex meanings of citizenship for colonial migrants in the U.S. metropole. She is currently working on two books: a study of Puerto Rican politics and civil rights in the United States, with Aldo Lauria Santiago, and an examination of the politics of human rights in the Americas in the 1970s.
This lecture examines the political status of Puerto Rico throughout the 20th century, with particular attention to the reverberations of the colonial relationship in the U.S., where it is rarely acknowledged. The lecture concludes with reflections on the changing role of Puerto Rican voters, both on the island and in the U.S., in the 21st century.