Advertisement

Postcards of Occupation

American Exceptionalism and the Politics of Form
  • Donette Francis
Chapter
  • 66 Downloads

Abstract

Domini can-American writer Nelly Rosario begins her 2002 novel Song of the Water Saints with an archival engagement: the opening scene stages a reenactment of the colonial postcard that pictures an unknown tropical island dating circa 1900. The postcard shows a naked copper-toned adolescent couple sitting on a Victorian couch, framed by cardboard Egyptian pottery, a stuffed wild tiger, a toy drum, and glazed coconut trees. The boy is muscular, his penis lies flaccid, and the girl lying against him is fully exposed save the hair that covers one breast, “an orchid blooms on her cheek … and an American prairie looms behind them in dull oils.”1 As an optic of imperialism, this is not a pastoral scene. The youths’ copper skin and the coconut trees evoke the anonymous tropics, the Victorian couch signals European grandeur, and the wild tiger and toy drum conj ure feral African primitivism. The “American prairie” backdrop superimposes a domestic narrative of Westward expansion and Manifest Destiny onto the Caribbean region.2 By the turn of the twentieth century, the landscape of the American West was largely exhausted, therefore, the ability of the American photographer-citizen to “capture” the wild savagery of this Caribbean “wilderness” makes the region and its people available to the United States as a territorial possession.3 President Theodore Roosevelt’s Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine expresses such a sentiment, which mandates the “reluctant interference” by the United States whenever the government of one of its southern-island neighbors exhibits “an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society” (excerpt from the “Roosevelt-Corollary,” emphasis mine).

Keywords

Sexual Desire Dominican Republic Executive Order Military Occupation Dominican Woman 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Nelly Rosario, Song of the Water Saints (New York: Pantheon Books, 2002), 1.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    In fact, in 1871, the U.S. Senate Commission of Inquiry explored whether the Dominican Republic was appropriate for annexation. See Silvio Torres-Saillant, “The Tribulations of Blackness: Stages in Dominican Racial Identity,” Callaloo 23, no. 3 (2000): 1086–1111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 4.
    Howard Hill. Roosevelt and The Caribbean (New York: Russell & Russell, 1965) 157–63Google Scholar
  4. Richard H. Colin. Theodore Roosevelt’s Caribbean: The Panama Canal, The Monroe Doctrine, and The Latin American Context (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1990).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    M. Jacqui Alexander, “Erotic Autonomy,” in Feminist genealogies, Colonial Legacies, Democratic Futures, ed. M. Jacqui Alexander and Chandra Talpade Mohanty (New York: Roudedge, 1997) 63–100.Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    Jennifer Yee, “Recycling the ‘Colonial Harem? Women in Postcards from French Indochina,” French Cultural Studies 15, no. 5 (2004): 6.Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    Allan Wells’s book on Jewish refugees to the Dominican Republic which documents that Jewish men and women migrated at a ratio of 2 to 1. Tropical Zion: General Trujillo, FDR, and the Jews of Sosúa. (Durham N.C.: Duke University Press, 2009).Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    See Mary Renda, Taking Haiti: Military Occupation and the Culture of U.S. Imperialism, 1915–1940 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2001).Google Scholar
  9. 23.
    Ann McClintock, Imperial Leather (New York: Routledge, 1995).Google Scholar
  10. 24.
    Steven Gregory, The Devil Behind the Mirror: Globalization and Politics in the Dominican Republic (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007) 112.Google Scholar
  11. 26.
    See Nancy Mitchell’s The Danger of Dreams: German and American Imperialism in Latin America (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1999).Google Scholar
  12. 33.
    Valentina Peguero, The Militarization of Culture in the Dominican Republic from the Captains General to General Trujillo (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2004), 35.Google Scholar
  13. 36.
    See Harvey Neptune’s Caliban and the Yankees: Trinidad and the United States Occupation (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2007).Google Scholar
  14. 38.
    Herbert Aptheker “American Imperialism and White Chauvinism” in Toward Negro Freedom, (New York: New Century Publishers, 1956) 8.Google Scholar
  15. 49.
    T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, Black Venus: Sexualized Savages, Primal Fears, and Primitive Narratives in French (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 50.
    See Amy Dru Stanley on transactional sex in her From Bondage to Contract: Wage Labor, Marriage, and the Market in the Age of Slave Emancipation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 54.
    Ann Laura Stoler, “Colonial Archives and the Arts of Governance.” Archival Science 2 (2002): 87–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 60.
    I have in mind the scene in Joseph Zobel’s Black Shack Alley (Boulder, Colo.: L. Rienner Publishers, 1996)Google Scholar
  19. 61.
    Amalia Cabezas, “Womens Work Is Never Done,” in Sun, Sex and Gold: Tourism and Sex Work in the Caribbean, ed. Kamala Kempadoo (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1999), 93–124.Google Scholar
  20. 73.
    See Lauren Derby, “The Dictator’s Seduction: Gender and the State Spectacle during the Trujillo Regime,” Callaloo 23, no. 3 (2000): 112–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 83.
    Hortense Spillers, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book,” Diacritics 17, no. 2 (1987) 64–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 98.
    For full discussion see J. Michael Dash, Literature and Ideology in Haiti, 1915–1961 (New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 1981).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 99.
    Michel-Rolph Truoillot, State Against Nation: The Origins and Legacy of Duvalier ism (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1990).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Donette Francis 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donette Francis

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations