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PhD candidate @ Texas A&M University


an Seavey is a PhD candidate in the department of history at Texas A&M University. His research examines U.S. relations with Puerto Rico through the lens of disasters. His dissertation seeks to tell the story of Puerto Rico’s disaster history while foregrounding it in the broader history of American disaster policy. He will also demonstrate how evolving ideas of disaster relief fundamentally shaped the imperial relationship between 58 the U.S. and Puerto Rico. His broader research interests include environmental history and the history of U.S. foreign relations. He has an article entitled ‘“Rock You Like a Hurricane:” A State of the Field in Hurricane Historiography' forthcoming in the Florida Historical Quarterly and another under review with the Journal of Advanced Military Studies. He has presented his work in various venues including the annual meetings of the Organization of American Historians, the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations, the Rocky Mountain Council of Latin American Studies, and the American Society of Environmental History.

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Development and Disaster policy


Catastrophic Continuity: The 1928 Caribbean Hurricane and the Limits of American Disaster Policy

On the night of September 13, 1928, and continuing into the morning of 14th, a vicious hurricane referred to as San Felipe battered the island of Puerto Rico. After displacing over 500,000 people from their homes in Puerto Rico, San Felipe trudged on and struck the east coast of Florida on September 17, claiming the lives of some 2,500 people. This storm highlights how the imposition of political, economic, and social status quo was paramount in the relief efforts undertaken by the U.S. government and emblematic of the pre-Depression 1920s. By 1928, U.S. disaster relief efforts policies were institutionalised. A policy emerged from earlier relief efforts that excluded Puerto Ricans and African Americans from political processes, championed agricultural production instead of industrialisation, and reinforced a rigid social hierarchy with limited upward mobility. These entrenched policies further constructed vulnerability among Puerto Ricans and African Americans in Florida because they relied heavily on U.S. government paternal assistance.

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