The Borders of Dominicanidad

Race, Nation, and Archives of Contradiction

Book Pages: 288 Illustrations: 18 illustrations Published: November 2016

American Studies, Caribbean Studies, Chicanx and Latinx Studies

In The Borders of Dominicanidad Lorgia García-Peña explores the ways official narratives and histories have been projected onto racialized Dominican bodies as a means of sustaining the nation's borders. García-Peña constructs a genealogy of dominicanidad that highlights how Afro-Dominicans, ethnic Haitians, and Dominicans living abroad have contested these dominant narratives and their violent, silencing, and exclusionary effects. Centering the role of U.S. imperialism in drawing racial borders between Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the United States, she analyzes musical, visual, artistic, and literary representations of foundational moments in the history of the Dominican Republic: the murder of three girls and their father in 1822; the criminalization of Afro-religious practice during the U.S. occupation between 1916 and 1924; the massacre of more than 20,000 people on the Dominican-Haitian border in 1937; and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. García-Peña also considers the contemporary emergence of a broader Dominican consciousness among artists and intellectuals that offers alternative perspectives to questions of identity as well as the means to make audible the voices of long-silenced Dominicans.


"[A] contribution to the emancipation of translocal histories and of individuals as well." — Pedro Reina-Pérez, ReVista

"[A] valuable addition to the body of literature on the subjects of Haiti–Dominican Republic relations and Dominican anti-Haitianism.”
  — F. S. J. Ledgister, Hispanic American Historical Review

"Rich and insightful. . .  Peña’s work is an interesting read and should provoke scholarly discussion and debate on the topic for a long time to come." — Richard T. Middleton IV, Ethnic and Racial Studies

"A historically grounded, meticulously researched, and thoughtful analysis. . . . Among the book’s many strengths are its readable and jargon-free prose, its detailed analysis of events that have received little attention in Dominican history and literature, and its investigation of 'never-beforestudied evidence based documents found in historical archives in Santo Domingo, Port-au-Prince, and Washington D.C.' (15). . . . A brave and successful effort to unearth and honor the truths that get silenced by hegemonic narratives." — Sobeira Latorre, The Latin Americanist

"García-Peña’s book stands out as historically and culturally far ranging, socially aware and sensitive, yet analytically tight with its clear framing of borders as real and borders perceived as constructs to be interrogated and challenged. . . . At a time when so much commentary seeks to divide and separate, both within and between nations, it is refreshing to find a work that, at its heart, is about unifying humanity. By revealing contradictions that subvert establishment control over language and history, García-Peña successfully unmasks and undermines border mythologies designed to define dominicanidad in terms of difference. In doing so, she makes a compelling argument for giving voice to dictions that speak not of separation but of unity among people." — Jeffery Morris, Journal of Global South Studies

"A magnificent far-ranging volume that examines the history, politics, and meaning of Afro-dominicanidad in all its glorious thorny complexity. Lorgia García-Peña pursues her claim with a wide-ranging intersectional rigor . . . For those who seek to pierce the murky racial legacies that continue to envelop the Dominican Republic—and by extension the rest of our world—The Borders of Dominicanidad is a beacon." — Junot Díaz

"In this groundbreaking and unique book Lorgia García-Peña brings the oft-forgotten Caribbean to the center of analysis of both U.S. empire and subject formation. Instead of capitulating to the argument that Haiti bears the burden of signifying blackness in the Hispanic Caribbean, she presents case studies in violence as national history that move us away from the gravity point of the Trujillo regime as the most important period in the definition of dominicanidad. The Borders of Dominicanidad will be the pivotal and necessary bridge between Dominican and Haitian studies." — Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernandez, author of Unspeakable Violence: Remapping U.S. and Mexican National Imaginaries


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Lorgia García-Peña is Assistant Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of History and Literature at Harvard University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Note on Terminology  ix

Acknowledgments  xi

Introduction. Dominicanidad in Contradiction  2

Part I. Founding the Archive

1. The Galindo Virgins: Violence, Repetition, and the Founding of Dominicanidad  23

2. Of Bandits and Wenches: The US Occupation (1916–1924) and the Criminalization of Dominican Blackness  58

3. Speaking in Silences: Literary Interruptions and the Massacre of 1937  93

Part II. Diaspora Contradicts

4. Rayano Consciousness: Remapping the Haiti-DR Border after the Earthquake of 2010  129

5. Writing from El Nié: Exile and the Poetics of Dominicanidad Ausente  170

Postscript. Anti-Haitianism and the Global War on Blackness  203

Notes  213

Bibliography  247

Index  261
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Winner, 2016 Isis Duarte Book Prize, Haiti-Dominican Republic Section of the Latin American Studies Association

Winner, 2016 Latin American Studies Association Latino/a Studies Book Award

Winner, 2017 Gloria E. Anzuldua Prize, presented by the National Women's Studies Association

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6262-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6247-0
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