Blanqueamiento in paradise: nation-building, immigration and whiteness in the Dominican Republic

Perez, Yadira, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Handler, Richard, As-Anthropology, University of Virginia
Marshall, Wende E., As-Anthropology, University of Virginia

This dissertation examines whiteness through the notion of blanqueamiento in the Dominican Republic. Its focus is on how the central cords of whiteness articulate on the ground to situate the establishment of the colonias japonesa¬¬—Japanese colonies—along the Haitian frontier, as the solution to the Dominican Republic's "black problem" and Japan's "overpopulation." Starting from the case of the Japanese colonies in the Dominican Republic in the 1950s, this dissertation examines three levels of operationalizing whiteness in the Dominican Republic. First, the examination of the global political and socio-economic moments between the Atlantic and the Pacific that make possible the existence of the colonias japonesas in the Spanish-Speaking Caribbean. Second, an investigation on the ways that blanqueamiento is used (becomes operational) to racially landscape the Dominico-Haitian frontier, as an essential part of a national-building project to create a modem Dominican nation. Lastly, an analysis of the lived experience of blanqueamiento through an ethnographic study of the Japanese immigrants and other Dominican residents living in the Dominican Republic. The data presented in this dissertation was collected during several ethnographic studies in the Dominican Republic from 1999-2006, with the longest study occurring in August 2004 to August 2005.

Utilizing data collected from participant observation, informal conversations, documentation review—government, legal and press releases—and dozens of in-depth interviews, this dissertation presents a case study that examines the discourse and lived experience of whiteness beyond the traditional racial limits of Europeans and African descendants.

Note: Abstract extracted from PDF file via OCR.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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