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Of Cannibals and Conquistadores: Race and Progress in the Dominican Republic

Historically, Dominican scholars have defined a national identity within discourses aligned with Europeanizing aspirations.  This Eurocentric preference in the production of Dominican history contrasts with a majority Afro-descendant population. At the same time, this process negates the black contribution to the nation-building project.  The proposal of these intellectuals affects the policies of public education, a key piece for the definition of the historical past of the country. Therefore, despite the questionable academic value that can be attributed to their contributions, these have to be analyzed and questioned both in their methodologies and in their motivations that led to articulate ideological positions that favor an idyllic past turning their backs to the racial reality of the Dominican Republic. To illustrate this process, I make a close reading of El comegente (1886) by Nemesio Casimiro de Moya and Colón: precursor literario (1958) by Joaquín Balaguer because they exemplify, at two different moments, how Dominican historiography creates visions of civilization and barbarism. The first, with an open Negrophobic undertone, presents an ambiguous conclusion that proposes an alternative reading to XIX century racial identity. While the second, it establishes the foundation of the nation in the Spanish hidalguía and the individualistic genius of Christopher Columbus.  A study of the establishment of Eurocentric visions and marginalization of the African heritage gives a better understanding of race dynamics in the Caribbean, and the role this island played with it is two nations on the border of what is considered modern or primitive. I seek to explain the hegemonic discourse in the Dominican Republic as a way to facilitates formulating proposals and designing strategies that grant more participation to marginalized voices in the public sphere.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 at 12:00pm to 2:00pm

Edward B. Bunn, S.J. Intercultural Center, 450, 37th and O St., N.W., Washington