The Dominican Republic has the distinction of being the only Latin American country which has a "mixed" population as
the overwhelming demographic majority. The amount of historical miscegenation between people of different African,
Indian, and European blood has been high, and has produced a multitude of "racial" mixes. European, or non-African/
non-indigenous ancestry has ranged tremendously, from Castillian Spanish to Converso Jewish and Moorish Spanish, to
French, English, German, and Italian, as well as to Midle Eastern Lebanese and Asian Chinese descent! As well, African
ancestry has ranged from northern Moors to central and west African peoples! In this sense, Dominicans are a
multi-cultural, or, better put, a multi-biological people. On top of this, however, many Dominicans have combinations of
"racial" features that make it difficult to pinpoint their exact biological ancestry (Alvarez 1973). Thus, the Dominican
Republic appears a country of "melting-pot" creolization as well. Dominicans proudly identify themselves as being a
"salcocho" (a stew that is often referred to as the national dish) of the Native American Taino Indians, Africans, and Europeans.
However, the identity stew has a strong Latino flavor to it, highly seasoned by a national ideology derived from Spanish
rule. Ultimately, the Dominican Republic is historically and biologically multicultural, while its national identity is
exceptionally uni-cultural. That is to say, despite the variable historical and biological backgrounds of its people,
Dominican cultural identity is strikingly uniform. Indeed, it is economic markers that divide the nation as opposed to cultural or biological factors.
Racial politics of Dominican identity is more complex than the situation in many American countries, including the United
States. Unlike the United States system of referring to anyone with a remote drop of African blood as culturally
African-American or racially "black" (Marks 1994), Dominicans tend to disregard their African culture and racial
"black-ness," identifying more with their European-derived Latino ancestry (Reid 1992). The converse of United States
definitions, where one "black" great-grandparent makes an individual "black," an even more remote drop of non-African
blood makes a person "not-black" in the Dominican Republic. Many Dominicans traveling in the United States are
confused to find themselves grouped together with African-Americans as opposed to Latinos (Ferguson 1992). Finally,
African culture, while certainly detectable in Dominican lifeways, has not played as strong a role as in other Caribbean
nations (Maingot 1992). Ironically, it is Haiti, the first free African-derived nation in the Americas, and the country with the
strongest African identity in the Caribbean, that shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic!
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