This essay offers an intellectual history of the armed mobilizations that traversed the highlands and valleys of the Dominican Republic's southern borderlands during the last decades of the nineteenth century, finding at their very heart a spiritually grounded defense of autonomy within an embattled geography of community and freedom. The residents of these highlands and the San Juan Valley mounted repeated guerrilla movements against the island's two capitals in service of defending the whole island's independence; unlike borderlands struggles elsewhere, residents forged these campaigns long before any capital transformations encroached on their own territory. The essay analyzes the spiritual, political, and geographic logic of self-rule that these individuals invoked and also, critically, the gendered cost of violence that these campaigns fostered. The success of these anticolonial struggles highlights the profound fugitive history of the center island, just as it rewrites narratives of exclusivist Dominican nationalism in the present day.

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