“During the second half of the twentieth century, U.S. and Puerto Rican activists attempted to redefine religious and political citizenship through alliance networks to contest compulsory military service. ”
My dissertation investigates how Puerto Ricans in New York City rejected military service as a method to attain social and economic equality from the 1940s until the mid-1970s by developing strategies based on religious, civil, and human rights. Central to this fight were the alliances formed between Puerto Rican religious and independence factions and activists aligned with the U.S. religious and political left in New York to argue against Puerto Rico’s colonial status and compulsory military service. Through this analysis, I argue that Puerto Rican independence activists’ rejection of military service that is inspired by the call for liberation and civil rights redefined Puerto Rican citizenship to challenge U.S. colonialism through collaborative ally networks. This project highlights the intersection of religion and social activism by emphasizing how multiracial and multiethnic coalitions challenged acceptable religious and political norms during an era of hyper-patriotism by internally grappling with concepts of faith, social justice, and nationalism.