Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Daniel Livesay

Rights Information

© 2019 Jeremy G. Anderson


This thesis explores the relationship between colonialism and the environment through a study of hurricanes in Cuba and Puerto Rico. Because hurricanes do not discriminate between international borders, they reveal much about the influences of political, economic, and social structures on vulnerability to hurricanes, hurricane preparation, and hurricane relief efforts. The Caribbean is a region that has been disproportionately impacted by hurricanes. It is also a region that has been wholly shaped by colonization. Prior to Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Caribbean, natives on islands like Puerto Rico and Cuba built and structured their societies around hurricanes and other catastrophes. Different aspects of colonialism altered the relationship between Puerto Ricans and Cubans and their respective environments. Though Puerto Rico and Cuba share incredibly similar histories, competing trajectories have emerged on both islands as they have undergone processes of decolonization and independence. An examination of Cuban and Puerto Rican history prior to Hurricane Irma and Hurricane María in 2017 provides a deeper understanding of the divergent histories of both islands. Ultimately, this study demonstrates that the legacy of colonialism continues to impact the identities and security of Cuba and Puerto Rico today.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.