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The Thinking Voice: When Listening Trumps Celebrity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 October 2020


In the brief span of 1952–68, Puerto Rico sped through its industrialization process. Middle-class residential construction dotted the city of San Juan. Hotels replaced the mansions along its Condado waterfront. The spanking new Medical Center promised health for the sickly, undernourished population, a health that the developmentalist program of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico—Operation Bootstrap—desperately needed, as it endeavored to offer a cheap, obedient, and presumably bilingual labor force to American capital. The “Golden Mile,” the financial district established in the area of the sometime royal hacienda, Hato Rey, emerged as the centerpiece of a new downtown. The mythic mall of Plaza Las Américas (formerly a cattle ranch that bred cows for the milk industry) became the social hub of a polis that increasingly turned to consumerism for its exercise of citizenship. Newspapers and magazines were filled with consumer fantasies of every variety. Along with everything else that was dazzling and new, Puerto Rico consumed a new object for sale, the celebrity pop star.

Theories and Methodologies
Copyright © Modern Language Association of America, 2011

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