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Dominican-Americans and the Politics of Empowerment

Ana Aparicio

Publication Year: 2006

Aparicio examines the ways first- and second-generation Dominican-Americans in the dynamic northern Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights have shaped a new Dominican presence in local New York City politics. Through community organizing, they have formed coalitions with people of different national and ethnic backgrounds and other people of color, tackled local concerns, and created new routes for empowerment.

The character of Dominican-American politics has changed since the first large wave of Dominican immigrants arrived in New York in the 1960s. Aparicio shows how second-generation activists, raised and educated in public institutions in the city, have expanded their network to include fellow Dominicans—both in the United States and abroad--as well as other ethnic and racial minorities, such as Puerto Ricans and African-Americans, who share common goals. Offering the perspectives of local organizers and members of Dominican-American organizations, Aparicio documents their thoughts on such issues as education, police brutality, civic participation, and politics. She also explores the ways in which they experience, reflect upon, and organize around issues of race and racialization processes, and how their experiences influence their political agendas and actions.

This new story of immigration and empowerment highlights the complexity of any group’s political development, making it useful for students of U.S. Latino and youth culture, as well as scholars of urban studies and politics, race, immigration, and transnationalism.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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Series List

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p. i

Title Page

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p. iii

Front Matter


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p. iv

Introductory Quote

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p. v


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p. vii

List of Tables

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p. viii

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pp. ix-x

Diasporic groups do not simply come into being and reproduce their sense of a unique corporate self through an identification with a real or imagined homeland. Nor are these groups exclusively defined through their varied transnational ties that transgress and redefine nation-state borders. ...

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pp. xi-xii

Since embarking on the journey that led to this text, I have been blessed with remarkable friends, family, mentors, and colleagues. It is a privilege to be able to extend my gratitude to them all. I began the research on which this book is based at the Graduate School and University Center, City University of New York. ...

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pp. 1-16

As a teenager growing up in Washington Heights, New York, Carlos Pierre,1 a twenty-four-year-old second-generation Dominican-American, attended public schools alongside Black and Dominican peers. When he was in school, he says...

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1. Scholarly Demarcations: New Typologies

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pp. 17-33

Immigration, immigrant groups, and their modes of incorporation (including political incorporation) have long been subjects of social science inquiry. Some scholars have placed their studies within the context of urban studies and globalization (Alba 1985; Muller 1993; Rischin 1962), others within the field of community studies...

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2. El Alto Manhattan: The Setting and Research Context

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pp. 34-54

Before we can understand organizations established by Dominicans in Washington Heights, we must first know the neighborhood in which they carry out their work. In order to fully appreciate the histories and development of community- based organizers in any locale, one must understand the broader context with which they are in dialogue. ...

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3. Politics and the Dominican Exodus

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pp. 55-61

Mass migration from the Dominican Republic to cities such as New York occurred within the context of major economic and political upheavals in the Caribbean region. It is not possible to understand Dominican organizing without first addressing this history. ...

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4. Setting Down Roots, Expanding Routes

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pp. 62-94

In this chapter I present a chronology of organizing in Washington Heights’ Dominican community, with special emphasis on the 1980s and 1990s, the pivotal years of Dominican-American community building in New York City. Stretching back to politics and patronage in the Dominican Republic, organizing in Washington Heights has changed along...

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5. The Leadership

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pp. 95-122

Most Dominican-American leaders I interviewed in Washington Heights shared a number of beliefs. First, that organizers must work to empower Dominicans. Second, that Dominicans must focus their energies on issues they face in New York. And, finally, that in order to build a stronger political and financial base, Dominican organizers...

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6. Race, Identities, and the Second Generation

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pp. 123-145

In this chapter I explore the identities and issues around which second-generation Dominicans organize, as well as the factors that have shaped their experiences of and perspectives on race. Many scholarly accounts of immigrant organizing end with questions regarding the second generation. How does the second generation see itself in the immigrant community...

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7. Expanding the Movement

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pp. 146-160

Second-generation Dominicans I interviewed recognize that they wear markers of race in public spaces, no matter how they choose to identify themselves. In this chapter, I point out the ways in which second-generation Dominican-Americans challenge racialization processes. This includes an understanding of why and how they organize with other people of color. ...

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Conclusion: Renewing Political Cartographies

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pp. 161-174

In April 2003, the Dominican presidential elections were two months away. They were taking place in a country miles from my field site. Yet there I was in the Dominican Republic, with the organizers of New York–based Dominican Nation, having dinner with one of the presidential candidates and his family. Amid talk of the recent conference in New York...


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pp. 175-183


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pp. 185-197


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pp. 199-210

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About the Author

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p. 211

Ana Aparicio is assistant professor of anthropology and research associate of the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She has organized with and served on the boards of various Latino, youth, and advocacy organizations...

E-ISBN-13: 9780813045450
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813029252
Print-ISBN-10: 0813029252

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2006

OCLC Number: 801843354
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Dominican-Americans and the Politics of Empowerment

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Dominican Americans -- New York (State) -- New York -- Politics and government.
  • Washington Heights (New York, N.Y.) -- Politics and government.
  • Washington Heights (New York, N.Y.) -- Ethnic relations.
  • New York (N.Y.) -- Politics and government -- 1951-.
  • New York (N.Y.) -- Ethnic relations.
  • Immigrants -- New York (State) -- New York.
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