American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 103–115

The Challenge of a Positive Self-Image in a Colonial Context: A Psychology of Liberation for the Puerto Rican Experience


  • Nelson Varas-Díaz
    • CUSEPUniversity of Puerto Rico
  • Irma Serrano-García
    • CUSEPUniversity of Puerto Rico

DOI: 10.1023/A:1023078721414

Cite this article as:
Varas-Díaz, N. & Serrano-García, I. Am J Community Psychol (2003) 31: 103. doi:10.1023/A:1023078721414


Community psychology and the psychology of liberation provide a framework to analyze colonization. Puerto Rico has always been a colony. This experience has direct negative effects on Puerto Ricans' national identities and their emotions. The purpose of this study was to explore emotions associated with Puerto Rican national identities in a sample of 35 high school students. While participating in 4 focus groups, the youths discussed negative and positive emotions associated to their national identities. The most frequent ones were shame and pride. They also identified situations which promoted negative and positive emotions. The role of a community psychology of liberation in understanding these phenomena as well as in embracing resistance to colonization is discussed.

identitiescolonialismemotionspsychology of liberation
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© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003