Jose Atiles is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Atiles recently had an article titled "Coloniality of Anti-Corruption: Whiteness, Disasters, and the US Anti-Corruption Policies in Puerto Rico" published in the Sociological Review Journal. To read the full article, click here.
Abstract: This article introduces the concept of ‘coloniality of anti-corruption’ to help situate and describe contemporary US anti-corruption policies aimed at Puerto Rico. The aim of the concept of coloniality of anti-corruption is to underscore corruption’s inextricable relationship to race, class, gender, and other colonial power relations. The article argues that US interventions with the Puerto Rican government, along with its distribution of disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane María (2017) and subsequent earthquakes (2020), are best understood against the backdrop of a long history of corruption narrative implemented by the US. This is a narrative that seeks to legitimate US’s colonial and capitalist expansion in Puerto Rico. To demonstrate this, the article explores the application of anti-corruption narratives by the Trump administration to justify its disaster relief policies for Puerto Rico. In particular, the article focuses on Trump’s tweets describing Puerto Rican politicians as ‘corrupt’ and Puerto Rico as ‘geography of fraud.’ In doing so, the article provides a theoretical account of the uses of corruption and anti-corruption discourses to justify colonial and capitalist’s global endeavors. It also illustrates how anti-corruption policies reproduce the idea of the non-white other as the corrupt subject and denotes the humanitarian consequences of such policies.