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8 - The forgotten heart-breaking epic of border struggle

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 July 2017

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Summary

Diego D'Alcalá, La Frontera (1994), Manuel Rueda, La criatura terrestre (1963) and Las metamorfosis de Makandal (1998), Perico Ripiao (2003) directed by Ángel Muñiz and written by Reynaldo Disla and Ángel Muñiz, Maurice Lemoine, Sucre Amer: Esclaves aujourd'hui dans les Caraïbes (1981), Gary Klang, L’île aux deux visages (1997)

The preceding chapter ended with a desperate inmate calling the prison of the southern border-crossing of Pedernales a ‘graveyard of living men, where men are broken and friends are forgotten!,’ a sentiment arguably amplified by its locus of enunciation. This chapter gives detailed attention to two novels, a long poem, a film, and a piece of investigative journalism which concentrate on different ramifications of what, in La criatura terrestre, Rueda has called ‘the forgotten heart-breaking epic of […] border struggle’ (p. 26; emphasis mine). In addition, some of the works under scrutiny here remind us of particularly vulnerable border-crossers, namely the Haitian braceros working in Dominican bateyes. Their predicament was brought under the spotlight in 1979 by the London Anti-Slavery Society, which broke the silence and the strategic collective amnesia surrounding their condition. Backward looks will not be infrequent but, generally speaking, the texts and contexts at the core of this and the following chapters will deal with Hispaniola from the 1960s onwards.

In 1998, in his introduction to the Antología Literaria Contemporánea de la Frontera, Francisco Paulino Adames forcefully complained about the state of neglect suffered by the Dominican borderland. Adames was not alone in holding such views: four years earlier, in his novel La Frontera (‘The Frontier’), the Dajabónero Diego D'Alcalá also lamented the state of abandonment in which the central powers had traditionally left his native province. In his short preface, in fact, D'Alcalá explains that, as a work in progress, his novel had a different title, along the lines of ‘the novel of forgotten and/or omitted things.’ In La Frontera D'Alcalá describes the hardship of the inhabitants of the northern borderland, especially in Macaboncito, Dajabón, and Ouanaminthe, and offers his analysis of border relations between the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

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Publisher: Liverpool University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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