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The Mulatto Republic

Class, Race, and Dominican National Identity

April J. Mayes

Publication Year: 2014

The origins of anti-Haitian and anti-black nationalist ideologies in the Dominican Republic have long been central to debates among the historians, political scientists, and journalists who wish to understand the relationship between popular expressions of Dominican identity and official nationalism.

In The Mulatto Republic, April Mayes looks at the many ways Dominicans define themselves through race, skin color, and culture. She explores significant historical factors and events that have led the nation, for much of the twentieth century, to favor privileged European ancestry and Hispanic cultural norms such as the Spanish language and Catholicism.

Mayes seeks to discern whether contemporary Dominican identity is a product of the Trujillo regime--and, therefore, only a legacy of authoritarian rule--or is representative of a nationalism unique to an island divided into two countries long engaged with each other in ways that are sometimes cooperative and at other times conflicted. Her answers enrich and enliven an ongoing debate.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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Title Page, Copyright

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p. vii

List of Illustrations

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p. viii

List of Tables

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p. ix

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pp. xi-xiii

Quiero, primero, reconocer a mi familia y todos los sacrificios que se han hecho por mi. A un padre ausente, a una mamá por naturaleza y a una mamá de crianza; tanto en Estados Unidos como en la República Dominicana, doy gracias por su confort, su apoyo y su fe en mi. Dedico estas palabras a mis tías, Blanca y María; a mis primas, que son mis...

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pp. 1-14

In November 2009 Sammy Sosa, the Dominican-born Chicago Cub who competed with Mark McGwire, of the St. Louis Cardinals, in the home run race of 1998, once again made national and international headlines. Sosa was born in Consuelo, a sugar estate located on the outskirts of San Pedro de Macorís, a town famous for producing a critical mass of Dominicans...

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1. Debating Dominicanidad in the Nineteenth Century

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pp. 15-35

In October of 1882 Sarah Marinda Loguen Fraser took a steamship from Philadelphia to Puerto Plata, bringing along with her a trousseau, some furniture, and sturdy shoes—the moveable property of many nineteenth-century brides. She also carried one item that differentiated her from many women, whether white or African-descended: a medical bag...

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2. The Changing Landscape of Power in the Sugar-Growing East

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pp. 36-60

Debates over dominicanidad in the late 1880s coincided with significant economic, political, and demographic transformations in the Dominican Republic, and especially around San Pedro de Macorís. While Antillean activists organized in Puerto Plata, in 1876 refugees from Cuba’s Ten Years’ War injected money and new technology into San Pedro’s hinterlands...

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3. The Culture of Progress in San Pedro de Macorís

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pp. 61-77

Addressing the question of whiteness and national identity in the Dominican Republic, Michiel Baud argues that Dominican nationalism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries reflected disillusionment with modernization, its failure to eradicate poverty, and its threat to tradition. According to Baud, to resolve their dismay, some Dominican...

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4. Policing the Urban Poor

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pp. 78-94

During the harvest of 1901, Francisco Méndez, a Dominican who worked at Ingenio Porvenir, demanded the return of property held by James Alexander, a contracted employee from St. Vincent who worked in Porvenir’s engine house. Méndez refused to offer Alexander proof of ownership and called on the estate’s security chief, another Dominican...

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5. Debating Dominicans’ Race during the U.S. Occupation

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pp. 95-115

On September 7, 1921, members of the San Pedro de Macorís branch of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) paraded down Sánchez Street to protest the arrests of their leaders, which had taken place on September 3. Men, women, and children from St. Kitts, Nevis, Antigua, and Trinidad marched under two flags: the British Union Jack and the red, black, and green...

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6. Gender and Hispanidad in the New Era

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pp. 116-140

Many years after her mother, Sarah Loguen Fraser, made a similar journey from the United States to Puerto Plata, Gregoria Fraser Goins returned to the Dominican Republic in 1939. Disembarking in San Pedro de Macorís, Goins traveled by car to Puerto Plata and arrived there on July 29: “Down we came in spirals . . . and finally the Atlantic...

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pp. 141-146

Sammy Sosa’s skin-lightening drama drew attention to questions about race, class, and national identity among Dominicans living in the United States and in the Dominican Republic. His baseball career had socially whitened him, evidenced by his media popularity and wife of European ancestry, so his physical transformation toward whiteness complemented...


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pp. 147-170

Works Cited

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pp. 171-186


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pp. 187-195

E-ISBN-13: 9780813048673
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813049199

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 17 b/w photos, 7 tables, 2 maps
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 869736066
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Mulatto Republic

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Social classes -- Dominican Republic.
  • Race awareness -- Dominican Republic.
  • Racism -- Dominican Republic.
  • National characteristics, Dominican.
  • Racially mixed people -- Race identity -- Dominican Republic.
  • Ethnicity -- Dominican Republic.
  • Dominican Republic -- Race relations.
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