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Title:Race under dictatorship: the political articulation of blackness in the Dominican Republic and Brazil
Author(s):Cappas-Toro, Pamela
Director of Research:Meléndez, Mariselle
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Meléndez, Mariselle
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Goldman, Dara E.; Tosta, Antonio L.; Olezskiewicz-Peralba, Malgorzata
Department / Program:Spanish, Italian & Portuguese
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Dominican Republic
Abstract:The dissertation examines literary and journalistic representations of blackness under the authoritarian regimes of Rafael Trujillo (1930-61) in the Dominican Republic and the Ditadura Militar (1964-85) in Brazil. I argue that these discursive representations offer important insights into how dictatorships manipulated local, regional, and transnational notions of blackness in an effort to create an idealized—but often contradictory—racial citizenry. At the same time, these discursive venues contribute to our understandings of dictatorships by drawing attention to how Afro-descendants resisted the states’ racial projects. My critical approach is guided by a theoretical framework grounded in cultural analysis, visual studies, and concepts of coloniality, commodity racism, marginality myth, and gastronomic identity. I open my discussion with an introduction in which I provide a historical and cultural background to understand how race and dictatorship functioned in these regimes. I argue that the instruments of control adopted under colonial rule, especially those implemented during slavery, were preserved and rearticulated during these dictatorships to politically oppress and subjugate black subjects. I also discuss the main theoretical concepts that frame my discussion. Chapter one examines visual representations of black bodies in newspapers such as La Nación (1945) in the Dominican Republic and Acervo Folha (1975) in Brazil. I show how black bodies are depicted as foreign subjects through demarcations of difference, exoticism, and objectification. Chapter 2 explores literary constructions of Afro descendants through state approved newspapers, radio, and television communications in the novels Massacre River (1989) and Cidade de Deus (1997). In these novels, mass media is an essential tool for the regimes to project black subjects as criminal and undeserving citizens. Chapter 3 studies cultural citizenship through music in El hombre del acordeón (2003) and Tenda dos Milagres (1969). These authors explore the ways in which Afro descendants used music to articulate new forms of politicized black identity. Chapter 4 examines Afro descendants’ religious practices in Del rojo de su sombra (1992) and Sangue de Coca Cola (1985). Afro descendant religions in these novels are represented as crucial cultural manifestations whereby black populations can openly denounce economic exploitation and demand equal citizenship under dictatorial regimes. Finally, the epilogue offers insights into how the historical legacies of race and dictatorship in Brazil and the Dominican Republic are still being fought over.
Issue Date:2013-05-28
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Pamela Cappas-Toro
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-05-28
Date Deposited:2013-05

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