Synopses & Reviews
Black behind the Ears
is an innovative historical and ethnographic examination of Dominican identity formation in the Dominican Republic and the United States. For much of the Dominican Republicandrsquo;s history, the national body has been defined as andldquo;not black,andrdquo; even as black ancestry has been grudgingly acknowledged. Rejecting simplistic explanations, Ginetta E. B. Candelario suggests that it is not a desire for whiteness that guides Dominican identity discourses and displays. Instead, it is an ideal norm of what it means to be both indigenous to the Republic (indios
) and andldquo;Hispanic.andrdquo; Both indigeneity and Hispanicity have operated as vehicles for asserting Dominican sovereignty in the context of the historically triangulated dynamics of Spanish colonialism, Haitian unification efforts, and U.S. imperialism. Candelario shows how the legacy of that history is manifest in contemporary Dominican identity discourses and displays, whether in the national historiography, the national museumandrsquo;s exhibits, or ideas about womenandrsquo;s beauty. Dominican beauty culture is crucial to efforts to identify as andldquo;indiosandrdquo; because, as an easily altered bodily feature, hair texture trumps skin color, facial features, and ancestry in defining Dominicans as indios.
Candelario draws on her participant observation in a Dominican beauty shop in Washington Heights, a New York City neighborhood with the oldest and largest Dominican community outside the Republic, and on interviews with Dominicans in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Santo Domingo. She also analyzes museum archives and displays in the Museo del Hombre Dominicano and the Smithsonian Institution as well as nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century European and American travel narratives.
An exploration of Dominican identity formation in the Dominican Republic and the United States. Examines how their definition of race, especially as seen in hair texture, was influenced by U.S. imperialism in the early 19th century through today.
An innovative historical and ethnographic examination of Dominican identity formation in the Dominican Republic and the United States.
About the Author
Ginetta E. B. Candelario is Associate Professor of Sociology and Latin American and Latina/o Studies at Smith College.
Table of Contents
Figures and Tables ix
Introduction. andquot;We Declare That We Are Indiansandquot;: Dominican Identity Displays and Discourses in Travel Writing, Museums, Beauty Shops, and Bodies 1
1. andquot;It Is Said That Haiti Is Getting Blacker and Blackerandquot;: Traveling Narratives of Dominican Identity 35
2. andquot;The Africans have No [Public] Historyandquot;: The Museo del Hombre Dominicano and Indigenous Displays of Dominican Identity 83
3. andquot;I Could Go the African American Routeandquot;: Dominicans in the Black Mosaic of Washington, D.C. 129
4. andquot;They Are Taken into Account for Their Opinionsandquot;: Making Community and Displaying Identity at a Dominican Beauty Shop in New York City 177
5. andquot;Black Women are Confusing, but the Hair Lets You Knowandquot;: Perceiving the Boundaries of Dominicanidad 223
Conclusion: andquot;Black Behind the Ears, and Up Front, Tooandquot;: Ideological Code Switching and Ambiguity in Dominican Identities 256