Document Type

Thesis

Publication Date

Fall 12-2013

Abstract

The goal of this research is to build on the literature concerning presentation practices of racial and national identity. The research examines presentation practices of race and national identity among Haitian heritage residents of the Dominican Republic (DR). Haitian immigrants have been an important part of the Dominican economy and the Dominican way of life since the beginning of the 20th century. Their descendants have to manage between Haitian and Dominican identities, while under the incredible pressure of anti-Haitian prejudices. The current literature concerning Dominican presentation practices asserts that normative presentation practices hide racial blackness. However, more recent literature questions the existence of a relationship between Dominican presentation practices and race. This research is placed to adjudicate between the two arguments within the literature. While this research is accomplished in a different environment among adifferent population, the research conclusions of this thesis support the connection between race and presentation practices. This study offers a preliminary look at how a substantive minority group manages racial and national presentation practices. This is accomplished through the investigation of hair styling norms of Haitian-Dominican women living in a batey in the Eastern region of the country. The study analyzes data from ten semi-structured interviews, one follow up focus group, and participant observation in Batey El Prado. The research results show that presentation practices of hair styling and hair management reflect race, social class, and nationality. Hair management practices allow women to manage how others perceive their racial and national identity. The respondents show normative hair presentation practices that are nearly identical to that of the dominant culture. The major finding is that hair styling techniques are used by the respondents as a status attainment strategy. By manipulating their hair, the respondents of this study attempt to hide racial blackness, avert the Haitian label, and assert a Dominican identity.

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