Publication Date

2011-06-28

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2011-06-28

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Latin American Studies (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2011-05-09

First Committee Member

Kate E. Ramsey

Second Committee Member

Andrew Lynch

Third Committee Member

Ann E. Brittain

Abstract

In the Dominican Republic, the memory of the Haitian conquest and annexation of the nation from 1822 until independence on February 27, 1844, along with the solidification of the anti-Haitian nationalist rhetoric of the 1920s and 30s, have fueled deep-seated animosity toward Haitians. Many Dominicans continue to hold strong anti-Haitian attitudes, and negative views of blackness pervade much of Dominican popular discourse, as well as ideas of beauty and social propriety. Lamentably, these negative attitudes toward Haitianness, which has become synonymous with blackness and vice versa, have spread far beyond informal conversations in private households, permeating the political realm as well. Anti-Haitian attitudes have long guided government action and unofficial policy in the spheres of immigration, citizenship, and labor. Though the Dominican Constitution, prior to a 2010 reform, explicitly granted citizenship to all persons born on Dominican soil, persons of Haitian descent were routinely denied the right to citizenship, as well as the right to any forms of government-issued identification. As a result, even those born in the Dominican Republic endure the looming threat of being deported to a nation that, in some cases, they have never known. Though the common occurrence of such grave injustice is well-known within the nation, most Dominicans are apathetic. The minority of Dominicans who oppose such immoral treatment are overpowered by the vociferous anti-Haitian majority who argue that those who fail to sympathize with their views are not only un-Dominican but anti-Dominican as well. With the majority of Dominicans holding such strong, vehemently-defended views on Haitian immigration, the minority opposition is often overlooked. In this study, I will analyze information obtained from field observation and interviews with Haitian sugar cane cutters and Dominican intellectuals, as well as citizenship and immigration legislation, to provide readers with a more comprehensive view of the political, economic, and socio-cultural impact of racism and anti-Haitianism. As part of my analysis, I will examine the motivations behind and causes of contradictory citizenship and immigration policy and discriminatory interpretations of the law as it applies to Haitian-descended persons. Through this thesis, I aim to construct a new, more complex analysis of anti-Haitianism and racism to generate a more thorough understanding of contradictory Dominican immigration and citizenship policy and its impact within the Haitian-Dominican community.

Keywords

citizenship, anti-Haitianism, racism, identity, Haitian-Dominican rights, sugar industry

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