Garcia-Pena, Lorgia. The Borders of Dominicanidad: Race, Nation, and Archives of Contradiction. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016.
Life along the 224-mile border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti can present a confusing cultural blending for those who think they know the Dominican Republic, but have never ventured west of Santo Domingo. Sentences spoken by people who may be Haitian or Dominican or some mix of both are interspersed with Spanish and Creole. A colorful tap tap rumbles down a Dajabon street. And although the Haitian moonshine triculi may not sit side by side with Barcelo Anejo on the bodega shelf, it is still easy to find. These are superficial observations. Delving deeply into lafrontera as a social construct shaped by discourse and power, Lorgia Garcia-Pena makes a powerful argument for reexamining the notion of borders as a means of dividing humanity. Garcia-Pena, an assistant professor at Harvard University, has received numerous awards for The Borders of Dominicanidad, including the National Women's Studies Association Gloria E. Anzaldua Book Prize, the LAS A Latino/a Studies Book Award, and the Isis Duarte Book Prize in Haiti and Dominican Studies.
Dominicanidad, the idea of what it means to be Dominican, has received significant treatment in scholarly works, media, and commentary. Among such work, Garcia-Pena'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. The author's subject is dominicanidad shaped by the Haitian-Dominican border, but the implications of her scholarship can be extended to other settings where social identity is created within an historical construct of hegemonic political interests, racism, and power struggles over representation of national identity and where borderlands are fertile ground for cultivating cultural mythologies.
The book is divided into two parts. The first, titled "Founding the Archive," examines how elites employ a set of dictions, to use the author's term, to create a literature and history that reflects their conception of dominicanidad. What Garcia-Pena labels the "Archive of Dominicanidad" is compiled through diction around such events as the 1822 murders of the three Andiijar sisters, who were mythologized into the Galindo Virgins. The Archive, which is reinforced through repetition...