In Colonial Phantoms: Belonging and Refusal in the Dominican Americas, from the 19th Century to the Present (2018), Dixa Ramírez astutely and compellingly displays the opacity of the Dominican Republic’s history in the context of the Americas. She complicates trite representations of the Dominican Republic as a space that is racially unconscious and reminds us of the overlooked history of free black experience in the eastern side of the island, pressing the reader to face the ghosted racialized realities that these facts highlight. This review considers the epistemological racial contestations formulated in Colonial Phantoms and probes the work’s own silences. Effectively casting doubts on caricaturist representations of Dominican racial negotiations, Colonial Phantoms circumvents structural dimensions of blackness. A cultural framing of racial representation, thus, walks the line of an essentializing biological racial miscegenation frame and collapses the distance between racial positions of nonwhiteness and blackness. This critical review centers the socially constructed experience of black subjects and what Frantz Fanon refers to as the “fact of blackness.” It asks what the ghosts whisper about the racialized structures that distinctly shape the experience of black (not nonwhite) subjects.
What Did the Ghosts Whisper? The Fact of Blackness in Dixa Ramírez’s Colonial Phantoms
Zaire Zenit Dinzey-Flores is an associate professor of Latino and Caribbean studies and sociology at Rutgers University. Her research investigates how the built environment mediates race and class inequality. She is the author of the award-winning Locked In, Locked Out: Gated Communities in a Puerto Rican City. Her current projects examine the racial aesthetics and architecture of the real estate market, the global circuits of planning ideas, the landscapes produced by Caribbean engineers, Afro-Latina/o/x experience, and mobile segregation.
Zaire Zenit Dinzey-Flores; What Did the Ghosts Whisper? The Fact of Blackness in Dixa Ramírez’s Colonial Phantoms. Small Axe 1 July 2019; 23 (2 (2)): 142–151. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-7703380
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