On the Edge: Writing the Border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic

BookOn the Edge: Writing the Border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic

On the Edge: Writing the Border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic

American Tropics: Towards a Literary Geography, 4


March 16th, 2015

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On the Edge: Writing the Border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic is a literary and cultural history which brings to the fore a compelling but, so far, largely neglected body of work which has the politics of borderline-crossing as well as the poetics of borderland-dwelling on Hispaniola at its core. Over thirty fictional and non-fictional literary texts (novels, biographical narratives, memoirs, plays, poems, and travel writing), are given detailed attention alongside journalism, geo-political-historical accounts of the status quo on the island, and striking visual interventions (films, sculptures, paintings, photographs, videos and artistic performances), many of which are sustained and complemented by different forms of writing (newspaper cuttings, graffiti, captions, song lyrics, screenplay, tattoos). Dominican, Dominican-American, Haitian and Haitian-American writers and artists are put in dialogue with authors who were born in Europe, the rest of the Americas, Algeria, New Zealand, and Japan in order to illuminate some of the processes and histories that have woven and continue to weave the texture of the borderland and the complex web of border relations on the island. Particular attention is paid to the causes, unfolding, and immediate aftermath of the 1791 slave revolt, the 1937 massacre of Haitians and Haitian-Dominicans in the Dominican Northern borderland as well as to recent events and topical issues such as the 2010 earthquake, migration, and environmental degradation. On the Edge is an invaluable multicultural archive for those who want to engage fully with the past and present of Hispaniola and refuse to comply with the idea that an acceptable future is unattainable.


On The Edge: Writing the Border Between Haiti and the Dominican Republic focuses on the border region of the Caribbean island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, delivering a ground-breaking literary and cultural history of magisterial scale.
Bridget Wooding

'Maria Cristina Fumagalli’s remarkable On the Edge: Writing the Border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic offers the most richly nuanced study of the Haiti-Dominican border to date. Anchored in a detailed understanding of the history of this complex and deeply conflicted contact zone, and offering insightful readings of the broadest possible range of literary and artistic works, the book challenges static representations of the border, offering in their stead innovative and multi-layered interpretations of the role of mobility and permeability in creating a multi-ethnic transnational territory that both bridges and separates the peoples of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The book’s depth of research and analysis will make it the must-read study for anyone interested in this often-misunderstood contact zone.'
Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert, Vassar College

'This exhaustively researched book is a must read for literary scholars and historians of Hispaniola, the Caribbean, and the Latin American borderlands, and serves as a crucial reminder that the current wave of anti-Haitianism is not the only narrative of Haitian–Dominican relations.'
Lauren Derby, Journal of Borderland Studies


Author Information

Maria Cristina Fumagalli is Professor of Literature at the University of Essex. She is the author of 'Caribbean Perspectives on Modernity: Returning Medusa's Gaze' (University of Virginia Press, 2009) and co-editor of 'Surveying the American Tropics: A Literary Geography from New York to Rio' (LUP, 2013).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
A note on translations18
Introduction: On the edge: border-crossing, borderland-dwelling, and the music of what happens19
Landscaping Hispaniola: Médéric Louis Élie Moreau de Saint-Méry and border politics42
The 1791 revolt and the borderland from below66
This place was here before our nations: Anacaona’s Jaragua110
Servants turned masters: Santo Domingo and the black revolt125
A fragile and beautiful world: the northern borderland and the 1937 massacre147
The dream of creating one people from two lands mixed together: 1937 and borderland Utopia 170
A geography of living flesh: bearing the unbearable213
The forgotten heart-breaking epic of border struggle240
Some are born to endless night: structural violence across-the-border284
Borderlands of the mind: present, past, and future331
The writing is on the wall: towards an open island and a complete structure364