Session 7B: On the Subject of Blackness: Subjectivities & Inequalities

Session 7B

On the Subject of Blackness: Subjectivities & Inequalities

4.22.2017 | 3:20p-4:35p | Laurel Hall 108

Like in the book DarkMatters (2015), this discussion “takes up blackness, as metaphor and as lived materiality” (Browne 2015, 9). Here, the conversations will consider transnational productions of Blackness, experience, and the unequal landscapes that shape identity formation and social life.

Moderator: Vanessa Lovelace, PhD (Political Science; UCONN)

Participant Abstracts

Amanda Alcantara (Latin American and Caribbean Studies; New York University)
Mujer Liniera:
Solidarity, Entrepreneurship and Womanism in the Dominico-Haitian Border

While past studies have highlighted the history of violence on the Dominican-Haitian border, particularly the 1932 state-sponsored massacre of Haitian immigrants, few have sought to examine the violence experienced by women. This study examines the lives of women on the town of Dajabón, in the northern part of the border, with a focus on forms of substinence and the ways in which labor is central to women’s identity. In this essay I specifically show how womanist thought emerges for women facing economic hardships and other forms of violence in Dajabón. Women in Dajabón contribute greatly to the regions’ entrepreneurship and economic development, driving them, for example, to form women-centered organizations, which seek to overcome nation-state boundaries. However, though this thought indeed arises, borders imposed by the state, namely blackness and the physical border, as well as the neoliberal economy wherein labor becomes a marker of worth, affects women’s subjectivity. The research in this essay is informed primarily by interviews with 26 women, and contextualized through a look at primary sources such as censuses, and secondary sources exploring the border’s history as well as blackness and identity in the Dominican Republic.


Katheryn Maldonado (Latina/o and Latin American Studies; UCONN)
Sovereignty and Statelessness in the Dominican Republic:
The Next Generation and Limitations on IRB Sovereignty

This project builds on literature that analyzes important recent legal decisions of the Dominican Republic that have impacted the nationalization, denationalization and citizenship of Dominicans of Haitian descent. Recent rulings of the Constitutional Tribunal have affirmed and extended earlier laws and bureaucratic edicts that have effectively denationalized Dominicans of Haitian ancestry numbering in the tens and perhaps the hundreds of thousands by invalidating their citizenship due to their ancestors’ undocumented Haitian migrant status. These cases clearly repudiate the Inter-American Court of Human Rights determination in the 2005 case of Yean and Bosico Children v. The Dominican Republic that the state was contravening its obligation to prevent the spread of statelessness, a ruling acclaimed at the time as a major precedent in international law on statelessness. The Dominican Tribunal’s Sentencia 168-13 of September 23rd, 2016 set in motion a complex political crisis surrounding the questions of how to settle the nationality of those Dominicans to be denationalized by the Sentencia and regularize the status of undocumented Haitian nationals.  Perhaps the most basic question raised for international law by this jurisprudence, legislation and the surrounding controversy is whether it is warranted to permit states absolute sovereignty in regulating immigration, residence and belonging. Rights liberal organizations have left untouched this larger question, of the extent of the Dominican state’s sovereignty regarding citizenship and nationality, in the exigency of responding to the plight of those stripped retroactively of their nationality. This paper analyzes the response by the international human rights community and liberal voices, and considers what foundations international law might provide for limiting state sovereignty on immigration, residence and belonging. In this way, this paper shifts the focus from those Dominicans who were retroactively denationalized to the children of today and generations yet to be born who will also be at risk of being left stateless if no sensible limits are found to the Dominican state’s sovereignty on questions of alienage.

Julian Cook, MA
Title: “Colors of Identity: An Analysis of Colorisms, Phenotypes, and Their Societal Impacts in The Maids of Havana and Reyíta”

Since the beginning of what we now know as Latin America, a socioeconomic hierarchy has existed, which functions to maintain the social positions of those in power – the Whites. It is impossible to say that there are no lasting effects of said hierarchy; in Latin America, we see
this relationship played out on a large scale – particularly in regions with large populations of African-descended people. In various places, the societal normativity is based on the culture’s aesthetic perception in order to be able to maintain a certain, continuous rhythm in the daily life. Two of the subliminal techniques used to maintain this cyclical lifestyle are: (1) the use of colors (i.e. negro/a, negrito/a, negrono/a) to create a subaltern; and (2) the sale of commercial products that reinforce Eurocentric values of beauty (whitening creams, hair straightening products, dyes, etc.)
In this work, I argue that, with these subliminal forms of societal repression, the Black woman in Cuban culture has been habitually repressed to the point of self-hating and negation. In Cuba, perception is everything; it is the driving force in determining who is a fully recognized
member of the society. This paper explores what it means to be a Black woman in Cuba through the lives of two everyday women. I conclude by noticing that this is a trend that currently persists, by mentioning a poem written by Victoria Santa Cruz entitled “Me gritaron negra” – a poem which takes us through the journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance of being Black in Latin America.