Reclaiming blackness through the literary figure of the maroon in Dominican literature
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My dissertation examines self-liberation history in the Dominican Republic and the maroon paradigm in three historical novels: Enriquillo: Leyenda historica dominicana (1892), Las devastaciones (1979), and Negrito (1986); and in two collections of Afro-Dominican poems: Exigencias de un cimarrón (1987) and Las metamorfosis de Makandal (1998). Since traditional histories and literary studies frequently disavow or ignore maroon heritage in this part of the world, my study draws attention to narrative representations of the rebellious slave, an active agent in Dominican colonial society. For the most part, the authors in this study present maroonage as an anti-colonial resistance tactic and furthermore a central component in the continuous struggle for nationhood and therefore the formation of Dominican identity. On the island of Hispaniola, the first colonial site in the New World, enslaved Tainos and Africans practiced maroonage, the act of individual and collective flight, soon after the arrival of Spanish colonists in the late 15 th century as a response to colonial domination. Hence, as one of the earliest resistance tactics against imperial rule, maroonage directly challenged the Columbian project. The introductory chapter of this dissertation firstly, summarizes the history of maroonage in the New World with a particular focus on modern-day Dominican Republic and Haiti. I secondly explore the maroon paradigm in Latin American, Anglophone, and Francophone Caribbean literature. Although the production of maroon literature dates back to the 17 th century, local manifestations of the maroon literary theme appear in Latin America and the Caribbean in the late ninetieth and twentieth century with the emergence of the historical novel. Chapter 1 examines the maroon components of Galván's Enriquillo that portrays the flight of Pre-Colombian Taino leaders, followed by Enriquillo's 15-year anti-colonial stance, and lastly delineates Tamayo's dissention from Enriquillo's maroon community. Galván's engagement with 19 th century anti-Black national rhetoric and romantic notions of the "noble savage" produced a narrative that responds to official foundational texts that legitimized the physical exploitation and dehumanization of the characterized other. In addition to presenting maroonage as a inefficient resistance tactic, Galván erases the African subject from the colonial landscape, hence skewing the demographic reality of early Dominican colonial society. In Chapter 2, I posit that Claudio Soriano's Negrito mirrors Galván's premise, and presents the maroon as an ineffective colonial rebel. The chapter argues that Soriano uses the protagonist, Negrito to examine colonialism, slavery, and the modern-day oppression of Afro-Dominicans. It furthermore demonstrates that Soriano nullifies the historical importance of maroon resistance societies during the colonial period and instead constructs a genealogy of cyclical victimization. Hence, Spaniards employ the role of victors and the original indigenous population, enslaved Africans and their descendents as helpless victims. Chapter 3 shows how Carlos Esteban Deive in Las devastaciones (1979) revalorizes the image of the maroon by illustrating that 17 th century maroon factions effectively challenged the colonial hegemonic power structure. Chapter 4 offers an interpretation of Afro-Dominican poetic works Exigencias de un cimarrón (1987) and Las metamorfosis de Makandal (1998). Both authors, Jiménez and Rueda equivocally challenge precepts of Dominican identity formulated by 19 th century elite; and in turn, characterizes the maroon as the initial colonial antagonist and originator of an on-going resistant movement that continuously defied center/ periphery power constructs. By presenting the maroon as a national hero, Jiménez and Rueda repudiate a limited national identification that emphasizes Spanish and Taino heritage and in exchange articulate Glissant's concept of Antilleanity. This study reveals shifting notions of the literary maroon figure in Dominican literature. Unlike Galván's Enriquillo , post-Trujillo authors in this study with the exception of Soriano revalorize the maroon legacy and recognize it as part of a larger anti-imperialist movement throughout the Americas. By validating the maroon legacy in the Hispaniola these authors also validate their African heritage, and challenge anti-Black and anti-Haitian antagonisms by regarding present-day Dominicans as part of the larger Afro-Antillean community. Hence, the maroon figure from the colonial period to present-day continues to function as a primary destabilizing agent of the colonizer/colonized dichotomy.