For my final paper, I am interested in applying many of the theories that we have learned this semester in order to study an event that has global and local ties and that has been spurred by the transnational lives of its population. Over the past month, the Dominican Republic and many Dominican communities in the United States has seen mass protests over fiscal reforms to decrease the government deficit my taxing citizens at a higher rate. The Dominican Republic’s fiscal protests are interesting because they are not just the complaint of present and historic corruption charges. I propose to investigate their reason for occurring, their proliferation over transnational ties and their linkages to past and current protests against a government seen as irresponsible and badly administered.
One of my guiding inquiries is why these protests have provided a space of identification for both citizens who protested the military regime in the Dominican Republic, as well as young Second and Third generation activists in Providence, Rhode Island. Is it a question of their methodology? Or a question of identifying with and encountering an imagined national cause from a transnational and diasporic space? How do these protests become affirmation of national and transnational identity, or Dominicanness? My preliminary thesis is that the many dissenting voices (the protests are about corruption, but also against the past administration and the violence against women the government fails to address) in both a local and translocal context seem disjointed, but are actually united due to of the hauntings and community imagination of corruption in the past and in the present and a vision for a different national future.
The connection is being made about these mass mobilizations in the capital city to protest against military dictatorship in 1965, as well as to those of the Arab Spring. There have been many other protests in the past, but the way that the current protests are aesthetically framed resonate both with the actions of the past, and with the images of the methods of the Arab Spring (social media, mass occupation of public plaza, etc). On the other hand, the global meets the local, but not just the present local in itself, but also a haunted local that resonates with the explosive power of the people finally allowed to mobilize after a thirty year dictatorship. Global and Local connections are being interlinked to historical ‘hauntings’ of the disappointments occurring during and after our own military dictatorship. Using Berlant’s notion of cruel optimism and impasse, I want to explore how these protests may have become an outlet for activists and citizens in the D.R. and U.S. to express their frustrations at being attached to a universal idea of transparency and basic rights that are not always met by the Dominican government.
Sections and Texts (some I will draw heavily from, others are less central):
I) Introduction and theory: Dominicans, a Transnational Imagined Community (Benedict Anderson: Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism.)
II) Communication Technologies and Transnational Activism (Vicente L. Rafael, “The Cell Phone and the Crowd: Messianic Politics in the Contemporary Philippines,” Public Culture 15.3 (Fall 2003): 399-425
Mark Granovetter, “The Strength of Weak Ties,” American Journal of Sociology 78:6 (May 1973): 1360-1380.
III) Imaginings and Hauntings of Corruption: Lauren Berlant, Cruel Optimism and Anna Tsing Friction.