Created By: University of Massachusetts Boston
This walking tour is intended for Boston Public Schools ethnic studies teachers using the Resisting Colonialism at Villa Victoria case study and involved a self-guided tour of local sites related to that case study. The purpose of this case study is to tell the story of Villa Victoria (Victory Village), a community- owned and developed housing complex in the heart of Boston’s South End that in the last half of the 20th century served as an enclave for Puerto Ricans in Boston. Originally, this area consisted of row houses and green public spaces designed to keep wealthy residents in Boston. However, with time, wealthy residents left, and as working families occupied the houses, landlords let them deteriorate. Eventually, the area was described by outsiders as a “slum”. But people who lived in it, although they disliked living conditions, appreciated low rents, and being surrounded other people with whom they had shared lived experiences on the island of Puerto Rico (Small, 2004). The process of planning, securing approval for, and building Villa Victoria stands as an example of resistance to colonialism (not only on the island but also internal) as the area where Villa Victoria would eventually be built would have been occupied and taken away from its residents. The life of Puerto Ricans in Villa Victoria also speaks to racial capitalism, as the construction of “Hispanics” as inferior on many levels provided a good rationale for their exploitation as cheap labor.