We Dream Together: Dominican Independence, Haiti, and the Fight for Caribbean Freedom.

Author:Utietiang, Bekeh
Position::LATIN AMERICA - Book review
 
FREE EXCERPT

Eller, Anne. We Dream Together: Dominican Independence, Haiti, and the Fight for Caribbean Freedom. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016.

The history of Hispaniola is one marred by slavery, colonization, Euro-American competing interests, wars, and rebellions. The 1697 Treaty of Ryswick ceded the western part of the island (Haiti) to France. In We Dream Together, Anne Eller explores the unification and separation of the island during the early nineteenth century, Spains annexation of the Dominican Republic, and the subsequent Restoration. Moving away from conventional narratives that merely focus on the conflicts in the island, the author argues that the relationship between the Dominican Republic and Haiti is more complicated and needs to be placed in an international context.

Eller's text is separated into two main sections. The first section examines the challenge the Dominicans faced in forging a new state following liberation from Haitian rule and how this resulted in annexation, and the second section looks at post-annexation colonization and resistance. In the first chapter, Eller shows how Dominicans navigated living in the shadow of both internal political revolutions, some inspired by Haiti and the competing interests of foreign powers such as the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and the United States. The president, Pedro Santana, was a dictator and executed many of his opponents, some of whom organized and sought a return to Haitian rule. Eller argues that Santanas push toward annexation was because he "hoped a foreign monarch would centralize the political administration, defeat opponents, and offer strong defense to external threats" (60). The second and third chapters discuss the process of making this island a Spanish province and the attempts to "reeducate" the Dominicans to conform to a certain way of life. Colored by racial prejudices that portrayed the Dominicans as lazy, the Spanish wanted to make them more "productive subjects" by bringing the people and "peasant labor" under the control of the colonial state. This program restructured all aspects of the lives of the colonized, including their religious beliefs. The promotion of Catholicism became synonymous with the promotion of Spain.

The fourth chapter turns to the new colonial project and Dominican opposition. Santana and his supporters claimed the opposition they faced was Haitian. He resigned in 1862 for health reasons. Eller fails to take a position on the...

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