Antihaitianismo: an embodied discourse
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 14:26 authored by Brendan P. Morgan
This thesis argues that contemporary manifestations of social, political and economic discrimination – antihaitianismo – in the Dominican Republic towards their Haitian neighbours have become embodied responses which are reproduced through everyday actions. The thesis component explores antihaitianismo as an embodied practice while the film explores perceptions of human rights from the standpoint of the Haitian diaspora living across six bateyes in the Dominican Republic. Antihaitianismo is a form of ideological racism towards Haitians, Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent which has been utilised by various Dominican leaders since the inception of the nation (Tavernier, 2008, p. 96). It describes a complex institutionally embedded web of political, economic and social stigma and discrimination (ibid.). Antihaitianismo polarises the island of Hispaniola along cultural and racial lines, which are “opposites in antihaitianismo ideology; thus, to be Dominican means to be not Haitian, and especially not black” (ibid.). Antihaitianismo has become entrenched in the Dominican psyche to the extent that most Dominicans are blind to their own and their government’s racism towards Haitians and Dominicans of Haitians descent. Using propaganda, personality cults and misinformation, Dominican leaders have consistently blamed Haitians for any number of social and economic ills that wrack the country, allowing them to distract the populace from their own shortcomings, particularly the endemic corruption of state leaders and the mutually beneficial relationship they enjoy with multinational corporations. Today, the Dominican Republic is facing a humanitarian crisis of its own making. On September 23, 2013 the Dominican Supreme Court ruled that any person who has no documented parentage of Dominican blood is effectively “in transit” or illegal. They retrospectively denationalised hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent born since 1929. Under international pressure, the Dominican Republic put in place their Plan Nacional de Regularización de Extranjeros – National Plan for Regularising Foreigners, that – superficially – allowed Dominicans of Haitian descent to register for re-nationalisation. Due to the relatively high cost and complexity of entering the regularisation plan however, most of this population have been unable to successfully register. Dominicans of Haitian descent have their perception of human rights entwined in the perceived immediacy of the threat of deportation which undermines their ability to find legitimacy in a sense of identity and belonging. Visas are a focal point that epitomise decades of antihaitianismo. The threat and anticipation of mass expulsions, while not yet a reality, are used by the Dominican government to create fear and intimidate Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent and are an ever-present cloud hanging over their existence and ongoing survival in the Dominican Republic. Stuck in a liminal no man’s land, Dominicans of Haitian descent are the hardest hit in this most recent materialisation of antihaitianismo.