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Decolonization

Making Space for Decolonial Futures: An Editors’ Introduction

In our introduction to the forum we want to more firmly situate Puerto Rico within geographical debates precisely because there is much to be learned about and with this U.S. colony. Our approach consists of reading and writing Puerto Rico “with and beyond Lefebvre,” an analytical maneuver familiar to many readers of Society and Space (Kinkaid, 2019: 2). To do so, we conceptualize the 2019 summer protests, as well as the multitude of alternative political spaces that emerged before, during and after the protests, as differential spaces (Lefebvre, 1991). As the interventions of this forum demonstrate, to conceptualize the differential spaces that decolonial struggles in Puerto Rico have produced we need new analytical tools, new positionalities, and new departures that take us beyond the whiteness, androcentric, and Eurocentric epistemologies of Henri Lefebvre (Fenster, 2005; Samara, He, and Chen, 2013; see also, Oswin, 2019). That is one of the many lessons that Puerto Rico and the protests of the summer teach us.

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Black Feminist Tactics: On La Colectiva Feminista en Construcción’s Politics without Guarantees

I discuss how the protests drew from well-established yet increasingly visible interventions by women and feminist organizations. However, I seek to track the contribution of the feminist movement more specifically, arguing that the protests built on tactics articulated, deployed, and circulated by La Colectiva Feminista en Construcción since 2016. I examine tactics that I argue contributed in important ways to the creation of a political terrain that made the July protests possible. Slogans, cacerolazos, shutting down streets and plazas, confrontations with the police and the Special Tactics Unit, as Shariana Ferrer-Núñez of La Colectiva points out, make reference to a long tradition of opposition in the territory. These also make reference to a tradition of opposition elsewhere, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean. Yet in post-María Puerto Rico, La Colectiva’s consistent and unrelenting denunciation of the specific ways debt aterizza, or “lands,” on women through an explicit confrontation with the state gains distinct significance. La Colectiva’s actions make explicit the links between debt and gender violence; between a housing crisis, the operation of finance, and logics of expulsion that impact women disproportionally; between disaster capitalism and debt/austerity in the wake of María; between consumerism and poverty. Rather than emphasizing the creativity of the protests or the organizational capability gained through autogestión, then, I stress that the protests were a confrontation with the state/capital that held the state accountable.