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  • Comparative Studies in Society and History, Volume 36, Issue 3
  • July 1994, pp. 488-526

Haitians, Magic, and Money: Raza and Society in the Haitian-Dominican Borderlands, 1900 to 1937

  • Lauren Derby (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 June 2009

Sitting on the banks of the shallow riverine waters separating the northern border towns of Dajabón of the Dominican Republic and Ouanaminthe of Haiti, one can see children wade, market women wash, and people pass from one nation to another. They are apparently impervious to the official meaning of this river as a national boundary that rigidly separates these two contiguous Caribbean island nations. Just as the water flows, so do people, goods, and merchandise between the two countries, even as the Dominican border guards stationed on a small mound above the river watch. The ironies of history lie here, as well as the poetics of its remembrance. This river is called El Masacre, a name which recalls the 1937 Haitian massacre, when the water is said to have run scarlet red from the blood of thousands of Haitians killed by machetes there by soldiers under the direction of the Dominican dictator, Rafael M. Trujillo (1930–61).

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Thomas Fiehrer , “Political Violence in the Periphery: The Haitian Massacre of 1937,” Race and Class 32:2 (10121990), 120

Fernando Coronil and Julie Skurski , “Dismembering and Remembering the Nation: The Semantics of Political Violence in Venezuela,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 33:2 (041991), 288337

Silvio R. Duncan Baretta and John Markoff , “Civilization and Barbarism: Cattle Frontiers in Latin America,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 20:4 (101978), 587620

Stanley J. Tambiah , “Ethnic Conflict in the World Today,” American Ethnologist, 16:2 (051989), 335–49

John L. Comaroff , “Of Totemism and Ethnicity: Consciousness, Practice and the Signs of Inequality,” Ethnos, 52: 34 (1987), 307–8, 311–2.

G. Carter Bentley , “Ethnicity and Practice,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 29:1 (011987), 2455

Ethnicity as Practice? A Comment on Bentley,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 33:1 (011991), 158–68. Clearly, in the Haitian-Dominican case, national, ethnic, or racial identities arose dialectically, particularly in the borderlands.

Bernard Cohn and Nicolas Dirks , “Beyond the Fringe: The Nation State, Colonialism, and the Technologies of Power,” Journal of Historical Sociology, 1:2 (061988), 224–29

Nancie L. Gonzalez , “Desiderio Arias: Caudillo, Bandit and Culture Hero,” Journal of American Folklore, 85:335 (01031972), 4250.

Sanitation and Seeing: The Creation of State Power in Early Colonial Fiji,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 32:1 (011990), 149–70.

George Eaton Simpson , “Sexual and Familial Institutions in Northern Haiti,” American Anthropologist (New series), 44:4 (10121942), Part I: 655–74.

T. M. Luhrmann . “The Magic of Secrecy,” Ethos, 17:2 (061989), 137.

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Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
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