Focusing on early-twentieth-century images, this essay constructs a method for discerning how ordinary, often anonymous, Dominicans fulfill, refuse, or frustrate the myriad desires contained in the imperial gaze as recorded in photography. This method, which the author terms “monte refusal” or “refusal from the hills,” provides a generative spatial, performative, and interpretative model. It unhinges the set of signifiers and expectations comprising gendered racial types that reveal two interrelated, (white) imperial anxieties. The first revolves around the gaze and performance of black subjects, especially on an island in which they had emancipated themselves in 1804 on one side and 1822 on the other. The second is an unease around rural spaces that refute productivity, surplus agriculture, and, as such, the teleological movement toward “modernity” that is the sine qua non of hegemonic European temporality.

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