Using a blend of historical and literary analysis, Colonial Phantoms reveals how Western discourses have ghosted—miscategorized or erased—the Dominican Republic since the nineteenth century despite its central place in the architecture of the Americas. Through a variety of Dominican cultural texts, from literature to public monuments to musical performance, it illuminates the Dominican quest for legibility and resistance.
Dixa Ramírez places the Dominican people and Dominican expressive culture and history at the forefront of an insightful investigation of colonial modernity across the Americas and the African diaspora. In the process, she untangles the forms of free black subjectivity that developed on the island. From the nineteenth century national Dominican poet Salomé Ureña to the diasporic writings of Julia Alvarez, Chiqui Vicioso, and Junot Díaz, Ramírez considers the roles that migration, knowledge production, and international divisions of labor have played in the changing cultural expression of Dominican identity. In doing so, Colonial Phantoms demonstrates how the centrality of gender, race, and class in the nationalisms and imperialisms of the West have profoundly impacted the lives of Dominicans. Ultimately, Ramírez considers how the Dominican people negotiate being left out of Western imaginaries and the new modes of resistance they have carefully crafted in response.
"In this piercing and important study, Dixa Ramírez has given scholars of the so-called New World an indelible intellectual gift. Scholarship of the highest order."
—Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of This is How You Lose Her
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