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The African Presence in Santo Domingo

Carlos Andújar
Translated by Rosa Maria Andújar
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 100
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  • Book Info
    The African Presence in Santo Domingo
    Book Description:

    Throughout its long and often tumultuous history, "La Hispanola" has taken on various cultural identities to meet the expectations-and especially the demands-of those who governed it. The island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti saw its first great shift with the arrival of Spanish colonists, who eliminated the indigenous population and established a pattern of indifference or hostility to diversity there. This enlightening book explores the Dominican Republic through the lens of its African descendants, beginning with the rise of the black slave trade in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century West Africa, and continuing on to slavery as it existed on the island. An engaging history that vividly details black life in the Dominican Republic, the book investigates the slave rebellions and evaluates the numerous contributions of black slaves to Dominican culture.

    eISBN: 978-1-60917-312-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Series Editor’s Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Kimberly Eison Simmons

    As book series editor, I am pleased to have this book in the Ruth Simms Hamilton African Diaspora Research Project Book Series. Carlos Andújar is known throughout the Dominican Republic as a scholar of Afro-Dominican history, culture, and identity. I first became aware of his work, and other Dominican scholars working on similar issues, when I was a graduate student at Michigan State University (1994–2000). I was in the doctoral program in Anthropology, and I was also a Researcher-in- Residence with the African Diaspora Research Project (ADRP) under the direction of the late Ruth Simms Hamilton, who was a...

  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    C. E. Deive

    Carlos Andújar is an enthusiastic, determined scholar of African American society. Very few social scholars in Santo Domingo have seriously dared to address, without prejudice, such a controversial and yet exciting subject as the one regarding the contribution of black slaves to Dominican culture.

    Until 1973, the year of the First Symposium on African Presence in the Antilles, held at the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, it was a common belief that the Dominican Republic was a nation of pure Hispanic cultural characteristics—free, therefore, of any links to Africa or Haiti.

    Language, religion, family organization, and customs—key components,...

  5. Preface
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-6)

    Research on the role played by African civilizations in the shaping of Latin American societies is rare. Several reasons explain this lack of information. Widespread prejudices and distortions have prevailed in intellectual reflections about the region, both stemming from the influence exerted by the “Establishment” and its efforts to remove any black culture element of expression from American societies.

    Despite such concealment, the influence of black slaves of the late sixteenth century on the ethnic identity of the region is indisputable. In mainstream explanations of our cultural legacy, the dominant groups of our society have privileged Hispanic or European values....

  7. West Africa during the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries
    (pp. 7-14)

    For many people, including social scientists, the degree of development of African peoples at the moment of the encounter between Africa and the Americas is surprising. The similarities in behavior make one consider the first the ancestor of the second, but especially the ancestor of the Caribbean. Two major factors at this point are crucial in history: (1) the “discovery” of the continent by Christopher Columbus and the subsequent process of colonization and slavery, and (2) the initiation and development of the slave trade in the fifteenth century.

    The splendor and contributions to society characteristic of sub-Saharan ornegroid African cultures...

  8. The Slave Trade
    (pp. 15-18)

    By the year 1415, the Portuguese started exploring the African coast with the aim of finding a route to the East, pursuing spices, perfume, fabric, and gold from Sudan, the Far East, and Africa in general. Europe was highly appreciative of these goods. As Françoise Latour Da Veiga Pinto says: “The slave trade has gone hand in hand with the great Portuguese discoveries of the fifteenth century. . . . The economic motivations of the first sailors who came to Africa were of two kinds: to reach the sources of gold production of Sudan . . . and to discover...

  9. The Origins of Slaves
    (pp. 19-28)

    An exhaustive examination of what was Africa, as a continent and as a conjunction of cultures, will lead us way ahead of what is commonly believed or known. Africa had wealth, well-developed kingdoms and empires, reputed universities—a world as complex as that of Western countries. By so doing, we may gain a better understanding of those places that first provided labor to the Americas. It will also help to explain some persistent features in the culture of the Dominican Republic, despite the European influence.

    In our search, some difficulties will, however, appear (errors in the transcription of ethnic names...

  10. Slavery in Santo Domingo
    (pp. 29-36)

    Although the first blacks came to the island around 1496, a pattern of slavery was nonexistent at the time. However, we believe that moment began what would eventually, several decades later, become the classic form of exploitation implemented in the Americas by Europeans: the “sugar-cane plantation” economy.

    This colonial plantation model had three types: cotton, coffee/cocoa, and sugar cane. Of these three, sugar cane was the one introduced in the Caribbean. Prior to sugar-cane plantations, Native Americans were used for the exploitation of gold. According to Tolentino Dipp: “After 1494, the exploitation of several different markets in Santo Domingo was...

  11. Black Rebellions
    (pp. 37-50)

    Resistance of blacks to the living conditions of slave labor did not emerge for the first time in the Americas. From the moment of their capture, they refused to accept their new captive slave status. Although this form of economic subjugation was already known in Africa, the participation of companies dedicated to this new business increased the demand for, and subsequently the persecution of, blacks. Paradoxically, some African regimes—not just Europeans—made slavery a profitable business.

    Capture was followed by temporary imprisonment in kingdoms that sanctioned slavery, and from there to the slave ships, to “change of place without...

  12. Contributions of Black Culture to Dominican Culture
    (pp. 51-60)

    In a society with a significant presence of black cultural elements and an equally important ethnic composition of blacks and mulattos, one might think that it would be an easy and acceptable topic to approach.⁶⁸ However, it is not. Dominicans have suffered a slow and gradual process of alienation regarding their ethnocultural identity.

    The result has been the ideological denial of African culture, and the distortion of thehomus culturalthat has placed Dominicans back in their historical past. In other words, back to theirreal cultural being,which has been replaced bya fictitious cultural being.

    Once in the...

  13. Conclusions
    (pp. 61-62)

    The theme of the black presence in the Americas requires a lot more research to elucidate the process of transculturation and historical development between the fifteenth and the eighteenth centuries.

    Research should not only benefit the study of black communities. It is also necessary to explain, always with a critical eye, the quality of Indian and Spanish contributions. Only thus can we overcome cultural dichotomies and identify to what extent—in Santo Domingo in particular—the creation or redesign of adaptive modes of the original inhabitants, conquerors, settlers, and black slaves have merged to make way for a new culture....

  14. Notes
    (pp. 63-68)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 69-71)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 72-72)