(Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños)
Administrative Office: 1429 Hunter East; (212) 772-5688
Director: Edwin Meléndez, Ph.D.
Centro Library and Archives
The Louis and Samuel J. Silberman School of Social Work
2180 Third Avenue and 119th Street, Room 121; (212) 396-7876
Associate Director of the Library and Archives: Alberto Hernández Banuchi
The Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños/Center for Puerto Rican Studies (Centro) is a university-based research institute whose mission consists of two components. One is to produce, facilitate and disseminate interdisciplinary research about the diasporic experiences of Puerto Ricans and to link this scholarly inquiry to social action and policy debates. The other is to collect, preserve and provide access to archival and library resources documenting the history and culture of Puerto Ricans. To execute this mission, Centro sponsors a year-round program of educational and cultural activities.
History Founded in 1973 by a coalition of faculty, students and community leaders, Centro seeks to implement its mission by working closely with a network of education, research, archival, advocacy and community-based partners. A university-wide research center serving the entire CUNY system, Centro has been housed at Hunter College since 1983. Centro staff guide and mentor students, assist and advise community organizations and other research institutions and serve on local, national and international committees concerned with issues of social, economic, educational and cultural policy. In addition, CUNY faculty and staff with interests in Puerto Rican and Latino studies are invited to affiliate with Centro, where they utilize its extensive resources. Centro has been a founding member of the Inter-University Program for Latino Research (IUPLR) since 1989. The IUPLR, currently composed of 23 affiliate centers, is the most extensive consortium of Latino research centers in the United States.
Research Program As a university-based research center focused on Puerto Ricans, Centro staff and researchers are interested in a comprehensive understanding of the Puerto Rican diasporic experience in the U.S. and in relevant socioeconomic and historical aspects regarding Puerto Rico. Given its history and role within CUNY, Centro is particularly interested in New York’s Puerto Rican and ethnic communities. The following are research areas of current interest and attention: history and political economy, migration, race, class, gender and sexuality, education, community development, political and human rights, public policy and political participation and cultural and literary studies. This list reflects the current combination of staff strengths and expertise, as well as the academic, community and policy networks the Centro has developed. Given the changing needs in Puerto Rican communities, in academia and in the Centro’s staff, the areas of current interest are reviewed periodically.
The Centro Research Exchange program promotes institutional, faculty and student intellectual and scientific exchange with stateside academic institutions. Since its inception the program has focused on strengthening institutional links between the City University of New York and stateside higher education and research institutions through academic and cultural exchanges and scholarly collaboration. Centro has sponsored numerous resident scholars, including theses and dissertation, post-doctoral and junior faculty fellows. The Centro Research Exchange Program has facilitated research and other academic/cultural activities for more than three hundred faculty and students.
Library and Archives The Centro Library and Archives is devoted to collecting, preserving and providing access to resources documenting the history and culture of Puerto Ricans living in the United States. Located at the Lois V. and Samuel J. Silberman Building in East Harlem, the collections include books, newspapers, periodicals, audio and video tapes, manuscripts, photographs, prints and recorded music. The Library and Archives provides services and programs to the scholarly community as well as the general public. They facilitate access to their holdings through mail and telephone services, City University’s online public catalog (CUNY+), participation in national computerized databases, and through the publication of finding aids. The Library and Archives also promote the study of Puerto Rican history and culture through exhibitions and other public programs.
With over 300 collections and 1000 oral histories among other holdings, Centro’s archives include personal papers, records of organizations and institutions, photographic collections, broadsides, programs and ephemera. Among the collections are the records of civil rights organizations, the papers of activists, writers, artists, scholars, educators and elected officials. A highlight of the holdings is the extensive records of the offices of the Government of Puerto Rico in the U.S. Special features of the Archives include its photographic holdings, art prints/posters by artists from New York and Puerto Rico and sound recordings of Puerto Rican popular music. Finding aids and guides are available for processed collections and are found online on the Centro Web site.
Publications Through Centro Publications, Centro seeks to expand its goal of broad dissemination of knowledge about Puerto Ricans and their experience. Centro Publications include various types of products targeting specific constituencies such as academics, policy makers, community leaders and organizations, and others.
The CENTRO Journal, founded in 1987, is one of the Centro’s most important links to the public. The Journal is a multidisciplinary, bilingual, refereed publication that welcomes scholarly articles in the humanities and the social and natural sciences, as well as interpretive essays, interviews, fiction, reviews and art. It reflects developments in the field of Puerto Rican studies. Although primarily an academic publication directed at disseminating the body of scholarship on Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans, the Journal retains elements of its earlier incarnation, publishing work in a variety of formats. The journal encourages a dialogue that compares Puerto Ricans with other ethnic groups, particularly other Latinos and African Americans. The Journal is available by subscription directly from our office or it may be ordered via our website.
Centro Voices is the e-magazine of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies. A web-based platform at https://centropr.hunter.cuny.edu/centrovoices , Voices’ goal is to disseminate scholarly contributions about the Puerto Rican experiences in the United States to a general public. It encourages interactions among academics, our community and the general public. In collaboration with WIPR, Puerto Rican Voices, a television series, premiered in 2015 and has had a strong and successful three seasons since its debut. In 2016, it received the Imagen Award for Best Local Informational Program. Puerto Rican Voices highlights the contributions of Puerto Ricans across the United States. Its programming is presently available through CUNY-TV.
Launched in 2013, Centro Press currently has seven published titles, with an additional three forthcoming. These books are currently available for purchase directly from our office or online on our website.
Centro Publications also include Policy Briefs, Data Sheets and special topics Booklets. These products are typically distributed free through our web site and events. Research Briefs are descriptive and topical summaries on specific areas of interest about the experience of the Puerto Rican population in the United States. Data Sheets are short documents that provide the most up-to-date demographic information about the Puerto Rican population in the United States. Data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau is summarized through a series of charts, tables and maps to illustrate major points and changes within the Puerto Rican population. Booklets are publications on special topics targeting a wide audience. Recent examples include: U.S. Citizenship in Puerto Rico: One Hundred Years After the Jones Act; State of Puerto Ricans 2017; Puerto Rico in Crisis Timeline; and, Puerto Ricans in the United States: A Brief Chronology.
Education Centro’s education programs focus on the development of curriculum and educational materials (such as video, posters, teaching guides) that disseminate and promote the use of historical and cultural heritage content for undergraduate courses, and for middle and high schools, as well as the general public. One such program—The Puerto Rican Heritage Cultural Ambassadors Program—is a national partnership of youth, community leaders, cultural and educational institutions devoted to promoting Puerto Rican culture, with the goal of cultivating leadership skills in Puerto Rican youth so they may become a driving force of change for themselves and their communities.
Conferences and Seminars As part of our educational initiatives, Centro regularly sponsors conferences and seminars that highlight the Puerto Rican experience. The recent economic crisis in Puerto Rico and the aftermath of devastating cyclones on the island have led us to concentrate our efforts to convening the Puerto Rican community in the United States as part of a solidarity network in order to assist in the recovery and reconstruction of Puerto Rico. Centro has therefore convened three major national conferences—Puerto Rico, Puerto Rican-Diaspora Summits— and many more regional and local ones to assess conditions on the island, and in Puerto Rican communities in the United States as a way to build consensus for community-based strategies and responses. Centro has also coalesced with other CUNY research institutes and community-based organizations in promoting the Summit on Latin@s in New York City (SoL-NYC) to foster the creation of an action agenda to improve conditions and the standing of the Hispanic population in the city.
Events Centro sponsors cultural and educational activities that contribute to the study and interpretation of the Puerto Rican experience in the United States. We give priority to activities that support teaching and learning Puerto Rican Studies, develop and promote our archival collections, and that are useful to those in community organizations, public policy, and academia. Our speaker forums focus on scholarship in the social sciences, humanities, and performance arts.
For more information on current programs, events and other activities, please visit http://centropr.hunter.cuny.edu.