In the funny, profound, and overlooked 1996 documentary Le sort de l'Amérique (The fate of America), an exploration of what it means to be Canadian, Quebecois filmmaker Jacques Godbout asserts that “history is the imaginary dimension of a people.” In We Dream Together, a sweeping revision of the intertwined histories of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and their neighbors in the Caribbean region, Anne Eller of Yale University provides powerful and provocative evidence for Godbout's statement. According to Eller's exhaustively researched and eloquently argued account, the meaning of Dominican nationality today is the product of an imagined past.

In Eller's treatment of the events in Hispaniola between 1822 and 1865, her central goal is to dismantle systematically the spurious dichotomy between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, one that serves to maintain and often to intensify the two republics' recurring conflicts. The implicit...

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