Ethnic Identity and Politics 

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 7, 2017) – Professor José Cruz has released a new book that reviewers are calling “thoughtful and provocative” in its portrayal of Puerto Rican political elites in New York City.

Cruz, an associate professor of political science and Latino studies, joined the UAlbany faculty in 1994. His areas of expertise are American, Puerto Rican and Latino politics.

In his new book Puerto Rican Identity, Political Development, and Democracy in New York, 1960-1990 (Lexington Books), Cruz argues that ethnic identity is a positive force in political development. 

José E. Cruz
In his new book, José E. Cruz argues that ethnic identity is a positive force in political development.

“I wrote this book to test the limits of representations of Puerto Rican politics as a marginal ethnic festival and also in reaction to what felt like a disproportionate emphasis on radicalism as a significant trend in the political development of the community,” Cruz said. “My principal audience is scholars of American, Puerto Rican and Latino politics, but I hope the book is also useful to graduate students interested in Latino politics and to advance undergraduates who may want to go beyond the traditional topics treated in the scholarship about American politics.”

Cruz suggests that in using ethnic identity to claim and exercise social and civil rights, to pursue representation and to access resources and benefits, Puerto Ricans sustained and enriched liberal democracy in New York City. In carrying out politics in this manner, Puerto Rican political elites placed themselves out of the margins and into the mainstream of city politics as significant contributors to urban democracy.

“Dr. José E. Cruz has taken, head on, a controversial subject in attempting to better interpret Puerto Rican political history and its evolution from a uniquely diasporic perspective,” said Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago. “The narrative represents a major advance in how we conceptualize and understand U.S. Puerto Rican politics in particular and ethnic politics in general. It creates a high standard by which future work in this area is to be measured.”

Santiago was provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at UAlbany from 2001 to 2004. He was briefly officer-in-charge in Feb. 2004 prior to the arrival of interim president John R. Ryan.


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