Una primera aproximación a la poesía dominicana reciente
Adalber Salas Hernández, PhD Candidate at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, NYU
La poesía dominicana reciente circula por caminos oblicuos. Aparte de los eventos donde la palabra escrita se hace hablada (conciertos, recitales, eventos de spoken word como aquellos a los que me referí en el post anterior), el acceso a la palabra escrita e impresa es más complejo: muchos de los libros de la generación más reciente de poetas dominicanos han sido publicados en el exterior, por lo que circulan de manera excepcionalmente irregular. Pienso, por ejemplo, en el caso de Ariadna Vásquez Germán, varios de cuyos libros han sido publicados en Puerto Rico o en México. O el caso de Alejandro González Luna, cuyo segundo libro fue publicado recientemente en España. Esto permite que la joven poesía dominicana sea difundida en el exterior, lo cual sin duda es positivo, pero el circuito no es circular: ejemplares de esos libros no suelen llegar al país. Por otro lado, la Editora Nacional, que se encarga de la impresión de los libros ganadores de los concursos organizados por instancias gubernamentales (y que han sido ganados, en momentos distintos, por los poetas que acabo de mencionar) ciertamente podría distribuir con mayor regularidad.
by Saudi Garcia (Department of Anthropology Doctoral Student)
Activity buzzed around me in the nearly empty-space of the salon floor as I sat on a small stool and managed the phone line, cellphone and the locked glass door. At 10 AM, a call rang through the landline and on the other side, a young woman began speaking through what I sensed were tears. “Can I speak with Carolina?” She asked. In that moment, I was unable to immediately transfer her to Carolina Contreras, the owner of Miss Rizos salon and a public figure in what is the growing natural hair movement in the Dominican Republic. Instead, I asked if there is anything that I can do to help. I wrote her phone number and the details of her story in my cellphone and passed it on to Carolina via text message.
The woman on the other end of the line was Fátima Gónzalez Méndez (aka Nicky) a political science student from the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo. After applying and being accepted to her program of choice and being notified of receiving the scholarship, only to have it withdrawn, Nicky decided to lobby at MESCYT for a scholarship that would enable her to study and live in the Basque Country, Spain. On the morning of July 26th Nicky had gone to the office of the minister of higher education in Science and Technology (MESCYT) in Santo Domingo to lobby. In her words, the minister in charge of the scholarship selection process, Ligia Amada Melo, dismissed her efforts to obtain a scholarship, telling her that she does not give scholarship to people with “pelo como tu” (“Hair like yours”).
Nicky has afro-textured hair, a copper-colored Afro that halos around her face. The implications of the statement by this public figure were immediately interpreted to be discriminatory against people who wear their hair in curly or afro styles. This form of discrimination is common in the Dominican Republic where women, girls and men experience exclusion in various sectors of public life due to their appearance.
photo courtesy of verne.elpais.com
Until 2013, the Junta Central Electoral forced women with afro and curly hair to straighten it for their national ID card pictures. Female bank tellers offering customer service at the country’s major banks are barred from wearing their hair natural and other women have been denied entry into commercial establishments for similar reasons. Young men in poor neighborhoods are arrested and their hair is shaved as a standard policing tactic. In May and July, several young women took to social media to denounce being denied entry to their schools because they refused to straighten their hair. These restrictions are often upheld in the name of “buena presencia” or good appearance. However, they are indicative of the translucent coating of respectability politics that permeate life in Dominican, and Caribbean, society.
By: Amanda Alcantara, MA Candidate at CLACS
When I decided to do research on women in the Dominican-Haitian border, I sought to focus on identity, especifically racial identity. Nothing would prepare me for what I learned, what I saw, the diversity and similarity in the stories of the 25+ women whom I interviewed mostly from Dajabón, Dominican Republic but also from Ouanaminthe, Haiti. The topic of my research was changed by these narratives.
Gloria Anzaldúa writes about borderlands as a place of violence, pain, and una “herida abierta”. She wrote of the border as parallel to her own body as a woman: her body is a place of violence and pain too. The Dominican-Haitian border divided by el Río Masacre—a name that signifies a deep wound still fresh in the elder’s minds—is no different than this. The women of this particular border have their own stories too, their own stories of the type of violence that is very specific to women, and their own stories of resilience.
The border entrance from Dajabón to Ouanaminthe.
My name is Saudi Garcia and I am a first year doctoral student in the NYU Department of Anthropology. My research interests lie at the intersection of race, gender, practice theory and digital media activism. This summer, I will be researching the natural hair movement in the Dominican Republic, historicizing and documenting the collection of people, places and digital spaces that together amount to a force that is visibly shifting Dominican society and culture. I will be talking to individuals about the impact that “going natural” has had on their lives, the lives of their families and Dominican society at large.
The Dominican racial difference paradox: Many different skin tones, one accepted and expected hair texture.
While much has been written about policies and norms that point to “black denial” in the Dominican Republic, few monographs have substantially covered the emerging efforts to develop Afro-identification and pride in the country. My work this summer involves learning about the journeys and struggles of the women (and men) who embrace natural hair in a place where wearing hair curly or afro has been interpreted as an act of rebellion that belies the Eurocentric aesthetic standards that have long been the norm among Dominicans.
Posted by Amanda Moreno – MA/MSLIS Candidate at CLACS and The Palmer School of Library and Information Science at Long Island University – Manhattan
Graffiti on Calle César Nicolás Pensón and Avenida Máximo Gómez demanding the expulsion of Haitians from Dominican Republic. Photo by Amanda Moreno, May 2015.
I noticed the graffiti on my way to dinner the night I arrive in the Dominican Republic. Outside of what I later learned is the equivalent of a papal embassy in Santo Domingo’s upper middle class neighborhood of Gazcue, the haphazard stenciling connotes an all too common message to Haitians living on the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola: get out, you are not wanted here. Continue reading
In keeping align with my methodological approach utilizing multimedia to conduct collaborative ethnography; the latest installments of the project were interview workshops. In general, skill development workshops are a major component of this project. The workshops focus on creative reconnaissance and technological skill building activities. The participants and I work together (and with local experts) to learn more about different aspects of photography, video, and audio equipment and techniques, editing programs, blogging, creative writing, and more. Furthermore, another purpose of the meetings and workshops is to familiarize the participants with the greater New York City area.
Last week, I met with the young ladies, in groups of two, at Washington Square in Manhattan. Throughout the day, each participant was able to enter and observe New York University’s Bobst Library (where they were granted limited access to the stacks and facility!), the Tisch School of Art’s ITP lab (the Interactive Telecommunications Program, where we borrow the 5D camera and audio recording equipment), and the CLACS office and rooms (the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, where the footage was actually recorded). Each pair played artistic directors in setting the stage for their interview session. Unfortunately, a light decided to begin its slow, blinking decline during the “talk show” style interview, but the cameras kept rolling in order to maintain the “flow” of the conversation. Claritza and Valin decided that a conversation style would be the most comfortable and effective approach. Continue reading
This summer, the Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies (CLAIS) at the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale, the Yale Programs in International Education Resources (PIER) and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) at NYU partnered on a summer institute for educators. Titled Colonial Latin America, the institute was available to educators and any member of the general public interested in learning about the latest research on colonialism and modern-day impacts of it in Latin America.
This summer institute, the first-ever collaboration between CLACS Outreach Initiatives, Yale CLAIS, and Yale PIER, consisted of a week-long workshop and an optional week-long trip to the Dominican Republic. Participants then created curricular materials based on what they learned. These curricular materials are now freely available for use via the CLACS website, included in a wide collection of resources for educators around the world who want to enrich their instruction content with more Latin American topics.
Curricular materials developed through this institute include:
– Settlements and Colonial Cities in the Andean Region
– Revisiting the Past: Understanding Identity and Practicing the Past Tenses through Historical Investigation
– Colonial Power and Indigenous Resistance in Art
Barbara D’Ambruoso at Parque Colón in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Last summer, in the first ever collaboration between NYU CLACS, Yale PIER, and the Yale Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies, CLACS helped organized the Colonial Latin America Summer Institute for educators. The Institute is a series of intensive professional development sessions that serves as a continuing educational training tool for in-service and pre-service educators. The objective of the Summer Institute is to present the best and the latest scholarship on international education to help educators introduce current perspectives on international topics and improve teaching materials for their students. The sessions are led by faculty, graduate students and other expert educators who provide an in-depth understanding of the latest research on teaching international content subjects in schools.
A new element of the 2011 Summer Institute was the production of “classroom-ready” teaching materials, which would be tested in one classroom and then disseminated widely online. By making the materials available on the CLACS website, they can be shared widely, and free of charge, with educators interested in bringing these topics into the classroom.
I am in the Dominican Republic doing 3 weeks of research in the Archivo General de la Nación in Santo Domingo. I am a third year PhD student in the Spanish Department at NYU, and my research concerns the border region between colonial Haiti and the DR (Saint Domingue and Santo Domingo) in the late 18th Century before and during the Haitian Revolution. I’ve been looking at diplomatic correspondence between the French and Spanish sides of the island, police treaties having to do with the border, and maps, with a focus on language (translation issues), slavery, citizenship, non-state actors, contraband trade and topography (how the states divided space along the border versus the reality of the situation).
I want to see how these “contested topographies” in the border region have continued to this day, as the border still simultaneously acts as a divisive yet porous wall between the two sides of this island. Last weekend I had the opportunity to travel to the sugar “bateyes” in the southwestern part of the Dominican Republic, near Baharona. The community in the bateyes is comprised of mostly Haitian families – some having been there as long four generations, yet many still without Dominican citizenship – and Dominican families who make their living in the sugar cane fields. Like on this island, there exists a border in these communities. The Spanish-speaking Dominican families live on one side (with access to running water and better amenities installed under President Balaguer’s government in the 80s), the Haitian-Dominican families live in the middle (they are completely bilingual in Spanish and Creole after one generation there), and the newly arrived Creole-speaking Haitians, who live in much poorer conditions on the outside of the community. Creole is maintained even after 4 generations of living in the Dominican bateyes, because it is the language spoken within the home and community and because of the constant influx of Haitians arriving to work the cane.
Being able to do archival work on the border 200 years ago, and seeing the topographical and linguistic divides still manifest in the sugar bateyes, have shown me how important it is for history to shed light on the present. I wonder if those Haitians and Dominicans living in the sugar bateyes in Baharona know that 200 years ago that very region close to the border was considered a “no man’s land” on the island, where maroon slaves from both the French and Spanish sides would escape (although the majority from the French sugar plantations) and establish communities known as the “Maniel” and “Bahoruco,” living in freedom and outside of state surveillance.
Posted by Nathalie Bragadir – PhD Candidate in Spanish at NYU
Altos de Chavón Archeological Museum Director Arlene Alvarez discussing Taino artifacts
While I was in the Dominican Republic last week, I kept running into Columbus. He turned up in colonial museums where the history of his voyages to the island was featured. He was in the lovely plaza next to the cathedral (a statue in his most famous pose) where he now faces the Hard Rock Café. What struck me most notably, however, was that everyone talked about him. In the United States, we only talk about Columbus around Columbus Day, which happens to be a long weekend. (“What are your plans for…?”). If we really think about Columbus, he remains controversial. In Rhode Island, where I live, there is a small statue of Columbus in Providence. It was not erected by the city, however. It is, in fact, on the site of the Italo-American Club. The members wanted to honor a fellow Italian, but the statue cannot compare to the imposing figure of Columbus in Santo Domingo.
On the way to the airport, Israel, my driver, asked me what I had done during my stay in Santo Domingo. Among other things, we talked about visiting the cathedral and the fort in the colonial district, visiting the archeological museums in the Centro León and Altos de Chavón, and having dinner by the water in Boca Chica. Then he asked me if I had visited the Faro de Colón. I had not. He would take me there “to take a picture.” It was very important. I had to see it… on the way to the airport. Israel explained that Columbus had come to Santo Domingo (the island) first. Here the first encounter with indigenous people in the Americas, the Taino, took place. Here were the first fort, the first churches, the first cathedral, the first hospital, the first university… In short, the first European institutions in the Americas. And Santo Domingo was—and is—the first city in America. Thanks to Columbus. He put Santo Domingo on the map (the first map?) of the “New World.” All of the Dominicans I met were proud of this history—and it shows in their monument to Columbus. The Faro de Colón, where twenty-nine of Columbus’ bones are interred, is an enormous structure in the shape of a cross, a “lighthouse” with not one beam, but many beams (visible from space) forming a cross on the sky. I took two pictures.