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.

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