Concrete and Countryside (Paperback)

The Urban and the Rural in 1950s Puerto Rican Culture (Pitt Illuminations)

By Carmelo Esterrich

University of Pittsburgh Press, 9780822965398, 184pp.

Publication Date: May 7, 2018

List Price: 27.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


From the late 1940s to the early 1960s, Puerto Rico was swept by a wave of modernization, transforming the island from a predominantly rural society to an unquestionably urban one. A curious paradox ensued, however. While the island underwent rapid urbanization, and the rhetoric of economic development reigned over official discourses, the newly installed insular government, along with some academic circles and radio and television media, constructed, promoted, and sponsored a narrative of Puerto Rican culture based on rural subjects, practices, and spaces.
            By examining a wide range of cultural texts, but focusing on the film production of the Division of Community Education, the popular dance music of Cortijo y su combo, and the literary texts of Jose Luis Gonzalez and Rene Marques, Concrete and Countryside offers an in-depth analysis of how Puerto Ricans responded to this transformative period. It also shows how the arts used a battery of images of the urban and the rural to understand, negotiate, and critique the innumerable changes taking place on the island.

About the Author

Carmelo Esterrich is associate professor of Spanish, humanities, and cultural studies at Columbia College Chicago. He has published widely on cultural and artistic production in Latin America.

Praise For Concrete and Countryside: The Urban and the Rural in 1950s Puerto Rican Culture (Pitt Illuminations)

"Concrete and Countryside represents a valuable, much-welcomed intervention and contribution to cultural studies, Latin American and Caribbean studies, Puerto Rican studies, and literary studies in general. Esterrich's work is theoretically and methodologically sound."
—Agustin Lao-Montes, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

"A timely project, well conceived and executed. General readers as well as specialists will be able to navigate this text."
—Jason Cortes, Rutgers University-Newark

"A fantastic snapshot of midcentury Puerto Rican culture. It will be of interest to those who want to learn more about Puerto Rico in Latin American context of twentieth-century modernization, and anyone more broadly interested in cultural responses to global trends of migration and urbanization."  
H-Net Reviews 

“[T]his book will be of interest to those who enjoy reading about modernism, post-modernism, capitalism, industrialization, urbanization, migration, and cultural production as well as how it manifested itself in mid-century modern Puerto Rico.”
—Ivis García, Centro Journal