Ricardo E. Alegría
Cultural anthropologist and archeologist
Born: San Juan, Puerto Rico

A world-renowned authority on the culture, language, and history of the native peoples of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Alegría founded the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña and the Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe.

“I was greatly motivated by my father, the writer Jose Alegría, who taught me to dearly love Puerto Rico and to be proud of our history and culture.”

Director of institutions of culture and learning, exhibition curator, and author of more than 20 books, Alegría has dedicated his life to preserving Puerto Rican history and culture. He was selected by Luis Muñoz Marín, Puerto Rico’s first elected governor, to head the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, where he created an awareness of the commonwealth’s cultural history, from its pre-Columbian inhabitants to the present day.

“When I started the restoration of Old San Juan, people said everything should be torn down and that we should make it a ‘little New York.’ But that was because of their ignorance about the historic importance of the city to both Puerto Rico and the U.S.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Ricardo E. Alegria, Cultural anthropologist and archeologist. Photograph by Héctor Méndez-Caratini, taken at the Alegría residence, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Ricardo E. Alegria, cultural anthropologist and archeologist. Photograph by Héctor Méndez-Caratini, taken at the Alegría residence, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Alegría was a pioneer scholar in the study of the culture of the Tainos, the native peoples who existed in Puerto Rico before Columbus’ arrival. He has also transcribed many Puerto Rican folktales, which are an important link to the island’s African, Native American, and Hispanic past.

“If we know ourselves better, then we will be prouder of who we are, what we have, and what we want to preserve.”

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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