Mi María: Surviving the Storm—Voices from Puerto Rico

Join us for a conversation about recovering from climate disaster and building community within the context of colonialism in Puerto Rico.

Celebrate the launch of Mi María: Surviving the Storm, a new book from Voice of Witness and Haymarket Books, with a roundtable conversation about the aftermath of Hurricane María in Puerto Rico.

Mi María: Surviving the Storm brings together 17 first-person stories that explore how government neglect and colonialism impact recovery, how communities come together in the wake of disaster, and how precarity and inequity are exacerbated on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Weaving together long-form oral histories and shorter testimonios, the book offers a multivocal history of the storm and its long aftermath as people waited for relief and aid that rarely arrived and communities collectively organized to support one another in recovery.

This event is cosponsored by Haymarket Books and Voice of Witness. While all of our events are freely available, we ask that those who are able please make a solidarity donation in support of our important educational and publishing work. Donations from this event will support our work with Voice of Witness.

You can also support by purchasing the book, Mi María: Surviving the Storm, online here: https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/1746-mi-maria-surviving-the-storm


Dr. Ricia Chansky is a professor in the English department at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez and the co-editor of Mi María: Surviving the Storm. She is the co-editor of the scholarly journal, a/b: Auto/Biography Studies and the editor of the Routledge Auto/Biography Studies book series. Ricia is also a Research Affiliate at the York University Centre for Research in Latin America and the Caribbean and a Global Fellow at the Brown University Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies. For her work directing the large-scale public humanities project, “Mi María: Puerto Rico after the Hurricane,” Ricia won the MLA Innovation in the Humanities Award and the Oral History Association’s Post-Secondary Teaching Award, and was selected as a partner in the Humanities Action Lab. She has been recognized by the Simon Wiesenthal Center/Museum of Tolerance as a Global Human Rights Leader in the Climate Crisis.

Zaira Arvelo Alicea is a narrator in Mi María: Surviving the Storm and the Curriculum Specialist for the project. Zaira is a writer, editor, and educator with a focus on English language learners (ELLs) and equity in the continental US and Puerto Rico. She was born in Lares, Puerto Rico, a mountainous town in the archipelago with a tradition of anticolonial insurgency. Zaira and her husband survived Hurricane María by floating on an air mattress for sixteen hours, trapped in their home. Her story highlights several failures in the federal disaster-response system, which led them to remain homeless for well over a year after the hurricane. She currently lives on Puerto Rico’s largest island where she spearheads a small business.

Lorel Cubano Santiago is a narrator in Mi María: Surviving the Storm and a community organizer with a background in tourism. She is the founder of the Old San Juan Heritage Foundation and the community arts center Colectivo PerlArte. After Hurricane María, Lorel mobilized mutual aid efforts with her community to feed hundreds of people despite not receiving any aid from the supply ships that docked just minutes away from their neighborhood of La Perla in San Juan.

Brenda Flores Santiago is a researcher, translator, and oral historian. Brenda was a student interviewer for the Mi María project at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. She is currently a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Translation and Interpreting program at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Watch the live event recording: https://youtu.be/4J-e1ITH3ZQ

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