Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

MAE - Master of Arts in Expressive Therapies


Expressive Therapies


Meg Chang


This thesis seeks to illuminate the economic, cultural and social subjugation of Puerto Rico, and its people, through the stripping of personal and political self-determination imposed by U.S. colonization. This research explores historic examples of Puerto Rican perseverance and analyzes psychologically protective factors supporting survivorship and resilience, such as familism and ontological security. The effects of Hurricane Maria on mental health are highlighted in the research, as is the correlation between a lack of electrical power and adverse health/wellness outcomes. Models for collective liberation and social justice are discussed and exemplified through the case study of a march that took place in Boston, MA on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria. The concepts of the shock doctrine and disaster capitalism are explained and connected to various historic moments in Puerto Rico, including after Hurricane Maria. Bomba and Afro-Caribbean dance/rituals are explained and connected to practices in liberation. The current absence of Bomba and Afro-Caribbean dance in the dance therapy field are used to exemplify areas of growth necessary for making dance therapy more inclusive and increase the field’s growth in cultural humility. This thesis also incorporates analysis of cultural competence and systemic oppression throughout and concludes with a call for dance therapists to be more active in advocating for social justice through their individual and clinical practice.

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