Purpose of this Audience-Research Project: 

As part of the design of the “Territorio no Incorporado” public history prototype online platform, I have collected data from interviews, which were held with two Puerto Ricans living in the Upstate region of South Carolina. This post elucidates some specificities regarding their demographical profiles, labor and leisure activities, interactions with online platforms, travel interests that have involved public history site visits, and connections with island and stateside Puerto Ricans. Here are some of the highlights, along with lessons learned that will help me shape my approaches to  building the “Territorio no Incorporado” platform.


One of the participants, Julio, a 44-year-old male, is an elite hairstylist living in the Upstate. He was born in the southern district town of Ponce, Puerto Rico, and raised there until the age of 13. Julio then relocated to Connecticut, and has also lived in Pennsylvania. In the case of Maria, she is a 43-year-old female, born in the western district town of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. When she turned 20, moved to the Upstate, where she has lived ever since and where she works as student advisor at a local university.

New Thing to Consider for Project: 

I would be really cool if I could incorporate a digital tool visualizes the differences in social engagement dynamics between: (1) storytellers who have lived in various U.S. states before landing in South Carolina, (2) storytellers who relocated from P.R. to South Carolina and remained there, (3) storytellers who first relocated to S.C. then moved to other states (or back to P.R.), and (4) and those who were born and raised in S.C. Among the many questions that this platform seeks to answer, I have the following: How are these diverse settlement patterns among Puerto Ricans living in the Upstate (or who have lived there) influence their online social interactive practices?

Work-Related Activities

Both interviewees have careers that demand high-level interactions with their clients or constituents. As a high-productivity hairstylist, Julio, devotes a portion of his time calling and texting clients, and providing a variety of styling services in Anderson, South Carolina. It is a work environment that relies on networking. In the case of Maria, with her 20 years in higher education, she has developed relationships with a large number of students by equipping them with–precisely–relationship-building skills, among them: navigating interview process, conducting market research, and developing strategies for easing anxiety. She has been a connector between students, faculty, and corporate partners. Both interviewees have a natural disposition to socially-engage with diverse groups of people.

New Thing to Consider for Project:

Their work-related insights paint a better profile of potential visitors to “Territorio no incorporado”. I can picture audience members being part of the retail or service industry, or working in educational institutions.  These work environments gives them exposure to many individuals, giving them the potential to increase social engagement in on online platform.  This conjecture is not solely based on the fact that Julio and Maria are working professionals, but mainly on those Puerto Ricans with whom they interact and build relationships.

Leisure activities

Even though each interviewee offered distinct answers related to their non-work related activities and interests, they both share their love for “good food”.  Maria, who doesn’t cook frequently, would often plan on having weekend lunches with friends, or–once in a while–make a “day of cooking”.  Julio is in search of “good food”by discovering homegrown, ethnic restaurants.

In terms of other activities, Maria contrasts her “scheduled Monday through Friday” with the more “go by feel” weekend time.  She may go from sedentary activities, such as binge-watching Netflix shows, to more active endeavors, like going out for hikes and meeting friends for happy hours. Whereas Julio, before heading out during his time off, he would do some research and choose places based on food type, price range, busy times, and reviews. He enjoys the process of discovering new places in the Upstate region, which according to him, “happen to be nowhere around here.” In an effort to get acquainted with his LGBTQ community, he also likes attending drag shows and gay clubs.

New Thing to Consider for Project:

Food seems to be a prominent aspect for potential visitors of the “Territorio no Incorporado” prototype site. I would consider building a platform that invites visitors to engage in a public culinary discourse with historical documents, photographs, and mapped Upstate locations.

Traveling Practices and Historical Site Visits

When asked how often he visits museums,  Julio expressed “not as often as I’d like. I love museums…when I travel around and to other cites, I do tours of museums.” He’s a traveler, stating that he plans about five to six trips per year. To exemplify his answer, Julio spoke about his trip to California, where he visited five different museums. It is his love of history, and “of knowing a little bit about other cultures and how people used to live” that attracts him to go to these places. He has also visited museums in S.C. towns (i.e. Charleston and Greenville), and in Puerto Rico.

Maria travels about once a year, and like Julio, when she goes to other states and countries, she typically includes visits to museums in her itineraries. She described trips she has done in the past few years to New York, D.C. and Arizona, stating, “…obviously we did visit a few museums.” And just like Julio, Maria enjoys visiting historical S.C. cities, like Charleston.

New Thing to Consider for Project:

Although both interviewees have an enthusiasm for historical sites, neither one expressed visiting museums in the Upstate. I wonder if potential visitors of the “Territorio no Incorporado” could identify opportunities to attend local historical sites, as they share their museum experiences in other states or countries.

Engagement with Online Platforms

When asked about their practices using technology and accessing online platforms, Maria expressed spending one hour per day on average on the iPhone (before work) and iPad (after work). She makes use of these devices to stay up to date with news via ESPN.com, Apple news, and SKIMM.  She would also go to Instagram to look at photos, and to Twitter to check the weather and see more news. For connecting with Puerto Rican communities, Maria prefers Facebook and Instagram.

Unlike Maria, Julio is a big Facebook and Google user, making use of his Samsung Note–on an average of three to four hours per day–to engage in the following activities: connect with clients, do a research on trends in the styling industry, follow hairstyling creators and educators, search for Latinx places in the Upstate, and seek LGBTQ communities. As the foodie he considers himself to be, Julio is on the lookout for conversations around restaurants and venues, and seeks opportunities to mingle with them. He also makes use of these devices to connect with family and friends in Connecticut and Puerto Rico.

New Thing to Consider for Project:

The “Terriotorio no Incorporado” site would need to (1) work with mobile devices and tablets, and (2) incorporate social media channels for higher levels of engagement. Maria and Julio’s interactions with technologies and online platforms align with what has been reported about the general Latinx population. According to emarketer.com, eight in 10 Latinx use the Internet, seven in 10 own a smartphone, two thirds use social media, and eight in 10 use subscription services, such as Netflix.

Connections with Puerto Rican Culture

Maria’s tenure in the academic realm has also well-positioned her to help Puerto Ricans from the Island consider the Upstate as their future home or school. Based on the relationships she has developed, Maria has “informally” and “accidentally” become the first contact person for some islanders thinking about relocating to this specific Upstate where she resides.

Other ways for Maria to be in touch with her culture is by watching Spanish-speaking shows, because according to her, “these shows keep me grounded and not forget where I came from.” Even though these are not Puerto Rican programs, these productions help her connect to broader cultural groups (i.e. Spain and Mexico).

Julio, when he wants to connect, he often times seeks Latinx venues to tune into conversations about  music stations, restaurants, and local events. Julio also seems to be in the know of Puerto Ricans residing in these areas. For instance, he knows about recent arrivals from Puerto Rico to his particular Upstate town, and has helped them integrate into his community. Even in cases where Puerto Ricans in this area have not met each other,  often times, each one can could attest to a six-degree separation thanks to Julio. This is one of the many types of nodes I would like to see in “Territorio no Incorporado”.

New Thing to Consider for Project: 

I should expand the mapping scope for “Territorio no incorporado”, and create a platform that would entice Puerto Ricans to share stories on how they connect with the greater Latinx community in the Upstate.

Connections with the Island of Puerto Rico

Julio and Maria both maintain close connections with their relatives and friends in the Island. In the case of Julio, he visits Puerto Rico once or twice a year and spends time with his father, his friends, but also takes time for himself to do tourism. According to Julio, this is how he contributes to his “patria”. By looking at his Facebook profile photographs, visitors can clearly tell how Julio enjoys his museum visits, restaurant outings, and eco-sites visits. Back in the Upstate, Julio relies on virtual platforms to sustain his connections with his loved ones in Puerto Rico.

In the case of Maria, she better connects with her family and friends from the island through special groups on Facebook and Instagram. It is through virtual communities, such as “Mayagüezanos en el exilio” or “Places Puerto Rico”, that Marias makes community as immigrant from the district town of Mayagüez.

New Things to Consider: Mapping the Puerto Rican-Latinx Identity 

On the one hand, these interviews point to  a level awareness of and engagement with other Puerto Ricans in the Upstate. But it is through virtual platforms, and not so much physical spaces, that they seem to be more successful connecting with other Puerto Ricans. These interviews also speak more about finding it easier to enter broader communities for interactions, that is, Latinx.

The pan-ethnic consciousness among these interviewees, which allows them to seek social capital growth by engaging with other Latinx, goes along with what researchers have reported, In the report published by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies “Recent Trends in Puerto Rican Settlement and Segregation in the United States”, (2013) Vargas-Ramos studies several settlement dynamics that stateside Puerto Ricans are experiencing, including: (1) Latinx subgroups still tend to predominate in specific geographical areas, (2) opportunities for Latinx of different origins to live within the same communities are increasing, and (3) Puerto Ricans are more and more integrating themselves into Latinx communities.  But there is one key aspect discussed by Vargas-Ramos, one that credits Puerto Ricans for unifying Latinx communities, stating: “Increasing interaction between Latinos of different national origin groups is reflected in the statistic for Puerto Rican exposure to other Latinos” (12).

This site would be effective if it’s able to capture stories from individuals experiencing these diverse dynamics, and to map the  connections with fellow Puerto Ricans, with other Latinx, and between members of different Latinx subgroups.

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