Race and Politics in the Dominican Republic

Ernesto Sagás

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"There is no other study of the Dominican ideology and practice of anti-haitianismo (anti-Haitian prejudice) of greater breadth and comprehensiveness. . . . Cogently written and suitable for introducing consideration of the anti-haitianismo phenomenon into introductory and advanced-undergraduate courses."--Samuel Martínez, University of Connecticut

Ernesto Sagás examines the historical development and political use of antihaitianismo, a set of racist and xenophobic attitudes prevalent today in the Dominican Republic that broadly portray Dominican people as white Catholics, while Haitians are viewed as spirit-worshipping black Africans. More than just a ploy to generate patriotism and rally against a neighboring country, the ideology also is used by Dominican leaders to divide their own lower classes.
Sagás looks at the notions of race held by Dominican elites in their creation of an imaginary "white" nation, particularly as the ideas were developed throughout the colonial era, then intellectually refined in the late 19th century, and later exalted to a state ideology during the Trujillo era. Finally, he examines how race and nationalist anti-Haitian feelings still are manipulated by conservative politicians and elites who seek to maintain the status quo, drawing on examples from recent political rhetoric and cartoons, campaign advertisements, and public school history textbooks.
The first book-length study of antihaitianismo, this work offers important lessons for studying racial and ethnic conflict as well as nationalism and comparative politics.

Ernesto Sagás teaches in the Department of Puerto Rican and Hispanic Caribbean Studies at Rutgers University. Recently he was guest editor of a special issue of the Latino Studies Journal devoted to Dominicans in the United States.

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"An important contribution toward understanding the modern Caribbean." -Choice

"an excellent and concise study of the virulent anti-Haitian prejudice and racism that exist today in Dominican society."
--New West Indian Guide

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