Frances Negrón-Muntaner is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, and scholar. Born in Puerto Rico to a family of academics, Negrón-Muntaner’s work spans several fields, including cinema, literature, cultural criticism, and politics. Her education anticipates these various interests: She obtained a Bachelor’s in sociology at the University of Puerto Rico (1986), then a Masters in film and anthropology at Temple University, Philadelphia (1991, 1994), and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Rutgers University, New Brunswick (2000). For her work as a scholar and filmmaker, Negrón-Muntaner has received Ford, Truman, Scripps Howard, Rockefeller, and Pew fellowships. Major foundations and public television funding sources have also supported her work.
Since the late 1980s, Negrón-Muntaner’s work has been considered an important resource in addressing sexuality, colonialism, nationalism, and migration in Puerto Rican/Latino diasporic communities. In 1994, she released the award-winning film Brincando el charco: Portrait of a Puerto Rican (1995 Whitney Biennial, Audience Award at the 1995 San Juan CinemaFest and a Merit Selection at the 1995 Latin American Studies Association Film Festival), the first Puerto Rican film to examine issues of race, gender and homophobia in the context of migration. Three years later, Negrón-Muntaner co-edited the groundbreaking Puerto Rican Jam: Rethinking Colonialism and Nationalism, a collection that questioned the accepted formula that nationalism was the cure of colonialism. During the same year, she wrote the first draft of what was to become “The Radical Statehood Manifesto,” a political intervention that sought to challenge conventional ideas of sovereignty in the Caribbean. In 2004, Negrón-Muntaner published Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and the Latinization of American Culture (CHOICE Award 2004), a collection of essays that included “Jennifer’s Butt,” a landmark text for the discussion of contemporary U.S. popular culture.
Negrón-Muntaner has also contributed to the founding of programs and institutions to disseminate the work of Latino filmmakers and intellectuals. She is the founder of Miami Light Project's Filmmakers Workshop, the organizer/fundraiser of several conferences on Puerto Rican/Latino affairs, and a founding board member and former chair of NALIP, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers.
During her three-year tenure as NALIP's board chair, Negrón-Muntaner actively participated in the creation of the organization’s signature programs (the annual conference, Latino Producers Academy, and Latino Writers Lab). She has also been part of the leadership responsible for the organization’s transformation from a startup operation with a few hundred members in 1999 into the country’s most important Latino producer organization, with over a thousand members and a $1 million budget. For her work as a filmmaker, advocate, and scholar, she was named as one of the nation’s "100 Most influential Latinos" by Hispanic Business in 2005.
Negrón-Muntaner currently teaches at Columbia University's Department of English and Comparative Literature and at the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race. She divides her time between Miami and New York City.
Published on September 12, 2013