Culture & History Digital Journal, Vol 2, No 1 (2013)

Fictions of Sex, Fear and Loathing in the Caribbean: Revisiting the Haitian/Dominican Borderland


https://doi.org/10.3989/chdj.2013.012

Conrad Michael James
Department of Modern Languages, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom

Abstract


Haitian-Dominican border narratives invariably draw attention to debates concerning the Dominican Republic’s (historical) hysterical drives to maintain an untainted “Raza dominicana” and simultaneously point to the threat posed to this ideal by their othered ethnic neighbours, the Haitians. What is less prevalent is an exploration of the sexual history of the border. Equally sparse are critical explorations of the fictional narratives of this border which privilege sex and the erotic as principal investigative prisms. Yet the literary architecture of the border is unsustainable without its sexual elements. This essay revisits key moments in the narrative construction of the border and investigates a few border texts that participate in the discussion on race and nationhood in the Dominican Republic. The aim here is straightforward; I intend to highlight the tenacious presence of sex and fear in narratives which record, interrogate, denounce or celebrate the border. The putative “problem” of the border, the essay reveals, is as much a problem of gender as it is of race. Accordingly, the fear of black masculinity on one hand and the celebration of new world erotics on the other become key components in unravelling the meanings of border identity.

Keywords


Haiti; Dominican Republic; Border; Sex; Fear; Gagá

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