Strictly Facts: A Guide to Caribbean History and Culture

Citizenship through Education and Imperialism in the Dominican Republic with Dr. Alexa Rodriguez

November 15, 2023 Alexandria Miller Episode 71
Citizenship through Education and Imperialism in the Dominican Republic with Dr. Alexa Rodriguez
Strictly Facts: A Guide to Caribbean History and Culture
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Strictly Facts: A Guide to Caribbean History and Culture
Citizenship through Education and Imperialism in the Dominican Republic with Dr. Alexa Rodriguez
Nov 15, 2023 Episode 71
Alexandria Miller

Send us a text message and tell us your thoughts.

We're thrilled to have Dr. Alexa Rodriguez join us for a deeply engaging discussion through the Dominican Republic's educational history. With her unique insights developed through her Dominican heritage and academic background, Dr. Rodriguez deftly unveils the obscured narratives of education under the shadow of US imperialism. Ever wondered how external forces shape the landscapes of native education systems? Here's your chance to delve into the fascinating, yet lesser-known saga of the Dominican Republic's struggle for educational autonomy during the eight-year US occupation (1916-1924) and beyond.

As we venture deeper into the heart of the Dominican Republic, prepare to be moved by the resolute spirit of local communities, their tireless efforts to establish and maintain schools, and their unwavering advocacy for their children's right to respect and education. Dr. Rodriguez masterfully guides us through the evolution of education in the Dominican Republic, from the disheartening defunding of schools during the US intervention, to the effects of the Trujillo dictatorship, and the current-day challenges facing Dominican education. Through this eye-opening dialogue, we aim not just to revisit the past, but also to instigate a broader conversation about education's critical role in shaping a nation's future. If you're curious about history, education, or the complex interplay between the two, this episode is one you won't want to miss.

Alexa Rodríguez is an assistant professor of education and a faculty affiliate for the Center for Race and Public Education in the South at EHD as well as at the Edmund W. Gordon Institute for Urban and Minority Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research examines schools, migration, and the formation of racial and national identities in both Latin America and in the United States. She is currently working on a book manuscript, "Crafting Dominicanidad" (forthcoming with University of North Carolina Press), an intellectual history that examines how Dominicans used public schools to articulate and circulate competing notions of racial, class, and national identity during the early twentieth century. Her work has been published in History of Education, History of Education Quarterly, Latino Studies, Caribbean Studies, City & State New York, Clio and the Contemporary, and the blog of the History of Education Society in the UK.

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Send us a text message and tell us your thoughts.

We're thrilled to have Dr. Alexa Rodriguez join us for a deeply engaging discussion through the Dominican Republic's educational history. With her unique insights developed through her Dominican heritage and academic background, Dr. Rodriguez deftly unveils the obscured narratives of education under the shadow of US imperialism. Ever wondered how external forces shape the landscapes of native education systems? Here's your chance to delve into the fascinating, yet lesser-known saga of the Dominican Republic's struggle for educational autonomy during the eight-year US occupation (1916-1924) and beyond.

As we venture deeper into the heart of the Dominican Republic, prepare to be moved by the resolute spirit of local communities, their tireless efforts to establish and maintain schools, and their unwavering advocacy for their children's right to respect and education. Dr. Rodriguez masterfully guides us through the evolution of education in the Dominican Republic, from the disheartening defunding of schools during the US intervention, to the effects of the Trujillo dictatorship, and the current-day challenges facing Dominican education. Through this eye-opening dialogue, we aim not just to revisit the past, but also to instigate a broader conversation about education's critical role in shaping a nation's future. If you're curious about history, education, or the complex interplay between the two, this episode is one you won't want to miss.

Alexa Rodríguez is an assistant professor of education and a faculty affiliate for the Center for Race and Public Education in the South at EHD as well as at the Edmund W. Gordon Institute for Urban and Minority Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research examines schools, migration, and the formation of racial and national identities in both Latin America and in the United States. She is currently working on a book manuscript, "Crafting Dominicanidad" (forthcoming with University of North Carolina Press), an intellectual history that examines how Dominicans used public schools to articulate and circulate competing notions of racial, class, and national identity during the early twentieth century. Her work has been published in History of Education, History of Education Quarterly, Latino Studies, Caribbean Studies, City & State New York, Clio and the Contemporary, and the blog of the History of Education Society in the UK.

Support the Show.

Connect with Strictly Facts - Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | YouTube

Looking to read more about the topics covered in this episode? Subscribe to the newsletter at www.strictlyfactspod.com to get the Strictly Facts Syllabus to your email!

Want to Support Strictly Facts?

  • Rate the Show
  • Leave a review on your favorite podcast platform
  • Share this episode with someone who loves Caribbean history and culture
  • Send us a DM or voice note to have your thoughts featured on an upcoming episode
  • Share the episode on social media and tag us
  • Donate to help us continue empowering listeners with Caribbean history and education

Produced by Breadfruit Media

Speaker 1:

Welcome to Strictly Facts, a guide to Caribbean history and culture, hosted by me, alexandra Miller. Strictly Facts teaches the history, politics and activism of the Caribbean and connects these themes to contemporary music and popular culture. Alrighty, hey, there everyone. We're back for another episode of Strictly Facts, a guide to Caribbean history and culture. I don't know if you've noticed, but education has been a very big part of the episodes of late. Of course, as an educational platform, strictly Facts is always exploring the rich tapestry of Caribbean stories to inspire and share knowledge about who we are.

Speaker 1:

More recently, though, I've been really interested in education, educational systems and how we're educated Both Dr Emmanuel Estanislaz's episode from our crossovers between Strictly Facts and writings on my mind, as well as the more recent episode with Deanna Linkook of History Hotline. They both joined me in really these beautiful discussions about Caribbean students in the US, in the UK, and the educational system in the British Caribbean. In this episode, we're extending out this conversation a little bit more to education in the Dominican Republic and the impact of US imperialism. I am so grateful to have Dr Alexa Rodriguez joining me for this really necessary conversation. Dr Rodriguez is an assistant professor of education at the University of Virginia and a faculty affiliate at the Edmund W Gordon Institute for Urban and Minority Education at Teachers College, columbia University. Dr Rodriguez, thank you so much for joining me today. Let's begin with you telling our listeners a little bit more about yourself, your connection to the Caribbean and what inspired your passion for studying education in the Dominican Republic.

Speaker 2:

Thank you so much for having me. I'm really just excited to be able to talk about this. I actually grew up in a Dominican family, raised in New York City, so we traveled to the Dominican Republic basically every summer. It was me, my mom, my siblings, and just being in the DR and growing up in New York City, it really became obvious to me that even though you know if you go to New York City, you can feel the imprint of Dominicans in the city. It's very clear. But in my schooling, in my just life, I really just felt like I did not have enough of an understanding of that history, of that relationship between the two countries. I really wanted to know about Dominican history and I wanted to find ways to know more about that, and so that became research for my undergrad as a history major, then it became the topic of my dissertation as a PhD and now it's turned into research for my book and the book manuscript.

Speaker 1:

History. Majors are always uniting. I feel like it's my. I've truly enjoyed it being able to speak with fellow history majors. Before we really dive into this history of education, there's a part of the sort of central landscape of your project that is cemented within US imperialism, more specifically, the US occupation in the Dominican Republic that started in 1916. Now the region is not new to US imperialism and occupation. Right, this can go several dynamics, whether it's you know, cuba during the late 19th and early 20th century, obviously Puerto Rico from the late 19th century until now, haiti. I also don't want to leave out the Philippines, on the other side of the waters, who you know. The US military were stationed over there for almost 50 years, I believe. And so, before we are diving deep into this history of education in the Dominican Republic, can you set the framework for us about you know, what was the catalyst for the occupation, the origins of it and generally the impact of US imperialism in the Dominican Republic at the time?

Speaker 2:

Absolutely, and I appreciate you flagging those examples of where the US had been, but also would also be at the same time when troops were landing in the Dominican Republic. But in particular with the Dominican Republic, the US had actually been interested in the country since the late 19th century. So in the late 1860s, the Dominican president, buenaventura Baez, signed an agreement with the US president, ulysses S Grant, to annex the Dominican Republic, and that included Samana, the peninsula, as a way to expand the US's economic and military presence in the region. But after negotiations and a treaty, the deal actually fell through because of pushback in the US Senate, where the politicians were truly uncomfortable with acquiring a country that was predominantly populated with African descendants. And so in the years after that, there were other kind of financial and political agreements that intensified the relationship between the US and the DR, but within purposes of the occupation.

Speaker 2:

It was really the. There was a 1906 Dominican American treaty and the implementation which is now understood as dollar diplomacy, where the US absorbed the bulk of the Dominican Republic's loan, and then the US then became the country's main creditor. And so the question is you know, why was the US interested in acquiring all of the DR's loans? Right Like what made them do that. And so, with the building of the Panama Canal in the Caribbean, the US really wanted to have like a strong presence in the area. And so to them, the US military.

Speaker 2:

Until the US government, the Dominican Republic seemed unstable. They had creditors in Europe, and so they thought that well, they were afraid that their European creditors would come and occupy the country if the Dominican Republic defaulted on its loan. What's ironic is that under Wilger Wilson, the US did just that, and because of an ongoing civil war in the Dominican Republic, president Wilson decides to send troops to occupy the Dominican Republic as a way to you know, what they saw is ensure free and democratic elections, but what happens instead is really a US military government and an eight year occupation.

Speaker 1:

As you alluded to, right, and this is not necessarily specific to the US, but I think there's this overarching idea for these so called global powers to go into smaller islands, smaller lands, predominantly of you know, occupied by people of color right, and execute this form of imperialism that is sought to, in their minds, like uplift them right. As you said, you know, the US thinks that the Dominican Republic set the near end of, you know, because of these, the creditors, but then you know, in a sense, does the same thing. I think, ironically though, and this is definitely going towards your angle and your research education gets caught up in this narrative of uplift right, and so could you outline in a sense how the US sought to impart questions of education and citizenship, although I'm sure you know, as we know by history of other places as well, imposing your own ideas is not the way to do this, but you know how the US really sought to impart these ideas of education and citizenship in the Dominican Republic, and why schools, right, I think there are. So many different avenues.

Speaker 1:

they could have used ads, you know several different things, but what? What was it about schools? That was really central to their mission at this time?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's actually the heart of the dissertation was trying to figure out why schools and how, and so what's important, I think, for this is what you were doing earlier with the last question of really contextualizing. You know what this looked like, and so, in this moment, the US wasn't only in the Dominican Republic at the time.

Speaker 2:

you know, it had sent troops to Haiti a year prior. It had been in Cuba before that. It was currently in Puerto Rico, nicaragua, in the Philippines, and then it actually takes over the Virgin Islands the following year, and in almost all of the occupation, education was part of the US's project and there are definitely a lot of similarities between them, particularly in their interest in rural communities, and a lot of that had to do with military interests and then also like just popular discourses and education at the time. But you know, what's important to note is that, even though this was happening across the spaces, it wasn't really a cohesive program. They didn't all have the same goals. You can find correspondence between officials, you know, talking about how they would learn from the different programs and adapt them to the specific locality, and so an example of that is, you know, the US and the Dominican Republic didn't want to acquire the country like it did with Puerto Rico, in the sense of, you know, using education to develop US citizens, and so Puerto Rico, their project around citizenship looked very different because of that, like that goal and in that intent, and so, with that, english wasn't such a big part of the program and implementation in the Dominican Republic since, you know, it wasn't necessary for what they understood as Dominican citizenship. And so that's one part, and then the other part is with the Dominican Republic. They also wanted more local leadership. They noticed that they were having a lot of issues with that in the past and other areas, and so they really wanted to make sure that they had more like localized leaders or local leaders, dominican leaders who would be part of this implementation. And so these were all things that they'd learned from, you know, in other spaces and were implementing as they moved on.

Speaker 2:

And so in the Dominican Republic, specifically when it comes to ideas about citizenship, the US military was afraid that the political instability of the country really came from kind of what they perceived as an ignorant rural majority, and so they thought that, by providing access to schools, dominicans, most of whom were living in rural areas, would no longer be persuaded by a charismatic and individualistic regional leader at Calvillo, but would be educated and able to engage in a democracy.

Speaker 2:

And so this idea was really rooted in education in the US.

Speaker 2:

So the common school movement that was occurring, you know, prior with Horace Mann and the implementation of common schools and this idea that public schools would be the common place for everyone in society to come together, was seen as this kind of great equalizer.

Speaker 2:

So this kind of idea of schools as like really the core of a thriving democracy they were carrying that from these ideas that were really prominent in the United States at the time. But at the same time it is rooted in paternalism and it definitely has racial aspects to it, where the underlying assumption is that the US is more Western and so it's helping to bring this kind of perceived as backward country into modernity. And the fact that the Dominican Republic was perceived and in documents actually like there are reports where they're describing the Dominican Republic as this mixed race country and, in their descriptions of that, making claims about how the fact that they are mixed race provides them a potential to be uplifted in an easier way, for that transition to be easier because of their Spanish roots, and so it's really hard to disentangle all of these ideas because they're all interconnected.

Speaker 1:

You know, in hearing that, I obviously even then drawn to hearing the Dominican perspective. Right, they're obviously hoping to elicit some Dominican leaders, but how did Dominicans feel and view education and citizenship at this time, even, you know, prior to the US occupation and going forward? What were some of the similarities and differences? Maybe even amongst people of different backgrounds, as you're noting right, you have some people from more rural backgrounds as opposed to urban backgrounds, or even People of different races, of course as well. So what did that look like? And again, maybe, how did that bump up against, you know, or even sometimes work in line with the US officials?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that was Really interesting for me when I was doing the research, because obviously, you know, as a person of Dominican descent, I was Appalled Often when I would read this documentation. But what was surprising to me and maybe it shouldn't have been, but it was Was to find Dominican elites who are actually Also perpetuating similar beliefs about Western superiority and who bought into this idea of the US coming in and Fixing the country and uplifting rural areas. And that was, you know, that was part of the discourse even before the US had even occupied and, of course, was part of the discourse when the US was in power and or when the US had implemented their military government. And so you have these, you know education ministers who worked with US officials to implement the reforms and centralize the school system and expand into rural areas, perpetuating and buying into these same ideas, and then, in so doing, they created a dual system with room and through schools, rural schools, and then also graded schools in urban areas, because they believe that Dominicans from the different classes should have different types of instruction. And many of the upper level Dominican administrators also held those beliefs, and so that's one part, but then with teachers it's a little bit difficult, because there are of course, you know, some who prescribed with those beliefs, but then you also have others who are anti-imperialist.

Speaker 2:

One of my favorite Little excerpt or little stories that I've read was one of a studio at that being. And so there's a great story of 15 in Nacey's other doctor Nacey's other dissertation, where she discusses how 15 sent a skirt to a male teacher who lowered the Dominican flag when the US truth entered the town, and then she sent that skirt with a note Asking him to stop wearing trousers since he clearly didn't need one. And so in this, you know, sorry, she doctors Ella, talks about not only how, but being, takes a stand against US intervention, but also kind of plays with this ideas about gender and this kind of gender reversal. But generally, you know, on the whole you find that Education officials were united in this idea that Through education Dominicans would learn their responsibilities of citizenship. So it's this kind of top down, the educator would, you know, provide the path to citizenship for Dominicans through the education system.

Speaker 1:

Even, I guess, maybe even taking that a step further, what were some of the positions of? You know, the everyday folk? You know, I think, especially for those in the of the rural class particularly, who are, you know, being given this Education in a way that even paralleled to our previous episode. Considering that, you know, when we're moving to this quote-unquote modern society, education seems like the natural next step. Right, we're evolving. You obviously want greater opportunities for your children and their children, etc. You know, given these systems are being created amongst you know, white officials from the US, did you still see the the same sort of divide as you talked about with Dominican administrators versus teachers, where there's some who are also staunch Anti-imperialist but also some who sort of bought into what was going on at the time?

Speaker 2:

Absolutely.

Speaker 2:

I think when it comes to ideas of the relationship between the US and the DR there's, in terms of the broad Dominican population, there were various responses to that. I think when it comes to, specifically, ideas about the education reforms and perceptions of the education reform, that becomes a little more challenging, and becomes challenging for a couple of reasons. So first, it's hard to generalize because of the lack of documentary evidence in the archive, and so that becomes difficult because how do you generalize perceptions based on the limited data that you have? But based on enrollment numbers, I argue that Dominican families were actually really in favor of having schools in their community and I don't necessarily think that this was tied to perceptions of the Dominican state or the US government. It's really just this idea of having access to education and buying into the idea that education is important for their children and having access to schools is important. And so, just in terms of enrollment number, that particular statistic is interesting to me because you'd see this number in US reports where the US would brag about how 50% of the school age population was enrolled in schools and that was really as a way to justify their intervention and saying look, we're so successful, look at how many people are now enrolled in schools, like compared to prior. But that statistic, I was bothered by it because I didn't know at the time why, but later on I realized that I thought it was presented in a way that's not completely accurate or not the full picture, because this was at a time when compulsory school laws really couldn't be enforced consistently or systematically, and so to me that statistic really reveals more about parental enthusiasm and their determination to make sure that the children in their care were actually enrolled in attending school.

Speaker 2:

And then that, along with the fact that parents were actually building the majority of the schools in the rural communities, and so they donate their time, their labor, materials to be able to sustain the school, and so, in terms of like citizenship practices, as a way that I've seen it, or the way that I interpreted, I see this as Dominicans demonstrating the responsibility and right to education, and I think that that looks very different from how the US officials operated. So for me it was this more of understanding their membership and their responsibility to the community as coming before education. So they were already citizens, and then, because of their citizenship, they're tasked with making sure, ensuring that schools are opened and maintained in their localities. And so, looking at the perspective of parents and actually the letters they wrote, often collectively to school officials, you see the parents and guardians advocating on behalf of what they believe children under their care were entitled to, and so that was sometimes having to make sure that schools were open consistently, or making sure that the local school had a teacher that they approved of, or just even respect when they were interacting with school officials. You have parents who were writing about that. They felt that they were treated with a lack of respect, and so they were kind of responding to that.

Speaker 2:

And then they also described the actions that they took as part of the parental associations that would build these schools as part of their duty. They often described that as their duty, and I think this is a duty both as a duty as a caretaker of a child, so I think they saw it as a duty of their parental responsibilities, but also in terms of their duties as a member of a community, and so that was not always in line with this kind of national community that we think about. When we think about Dominican citizenship, I start more operating in a more localized way, where they were talking more about their region or locality, but it was still linked to responsibilities and rights, or at least that language and those actions were tied to that idea.

Speaker 1:

You brought up some really interesting points there, one of which I really wanted to, you know, as a fellow historian earmark, and it's the challenges of what is in the archives right, oftentimes Not just about the Caribbean, but at the world at large, we can hear and learn about the world based on the positions of those who are in power right, and so for the Dominican Republic, it's in this period that we're talking about. Right now it's the US, and so could you talk to us briefly about what it was like to be in the archives, the challenges of, you know, reading these documents that are oftentimes written from those who are in power and are excluding the voices and the perspectives of more marginalized communities? And then, more generally, what were the US officials' positions in terms of really instilling this education reform in the Dominican Republic at the time?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so I love that question about you know research methodologies and archives, because it definitely was something that I was sitting with and still sit with now with my own work with the book manuscript. And so, when it comes to the occupation, a lot of the documents are either housed in the US National Archives, so the US military documents are held there, and then you have the Dominican National Archive that has a lot of documents generated by Dominican officials, and so even with both, it's challenging because they will sometimes mention the work of other people or the reaction of, let's say, some parents in the community, but sometimes it's not the most obvious, and so you have to kind of read what a lot of people call reading against the grain, where you have to read it from the intended way that they were trying to the message that they wanted to convey, but at the same time look for areas and ask other questions of the document to pull out other information that might not so easily pulled out. And so, for example, you know, as I mentioned before, thinking about that statistic of you know how many students were enrolled and what that and the different answers that could come up based on the questions that you ask, or another you know document that I can like often recall is when a Dominican officials were surveying the border with Haiti and thinking about implementing or opening schools around the border, and they would mention, you know, some of the reactions of the parents and just other general members of the community, but that wasn't always kind of the intention or it was just kind of a sighted thing or something that was mentioned, but it really wasn't the core of what they were describing. And so finding those spaces to kind of pull out that information was really helpful for me to then be able to highlight okay, so what are the various perspectives? What? How are people understanding this education project and reacting to this education project? So that was really helpful.

Speaker 2:

But also, you know, I came across this really you know rich set of letters from parents, and often these were collective letters from parents to education officials, and that's when, as I mentioned before, where people were making demands and asking, you know, the government for certain things, but also, you know, criticizing and critiquing and and demanding things, and so that was really helpful for me to be able to kind of parse out and pull out those perspectives. But ultimately, the challenging part is that none of this can be really comprehensive because it's either one from the perspective, as you mentioned, of the people generating the documents, who are trying to tell the story from their own you know perspective, for their own reason, so whether it's the US trying to show that their you know, their project is working, or even education administrators kind of similarly doing the same for their own reasons. And then you have the parent letters, which provide, like that other perspective, but still is limited because it still is around, access to literacy and even though you have scribes and you have, like group letters that are showing up in the archive so that, you know, expands it a little bit but at the end of the day, you know, it's what documents were preserved, who wrote to government officials, which letters were actually like have remained, because unfortunately, you know, and being in the Caribbean, hurricanes, moisture, all these things can all affect, like, the preservation of documents, and so these are all factors that are kind of involved with the potentially the lack of documentary evidence, and so other things that I've tried to do and especially with the book, moving into oral interviews and trying to speak to people who may not have existed during the occupation and were not around, but I've been speaking with people who were raised in the 30s and 40s, so maybe two or three decades afterwards, especially in rural areas where likely the environment hadn't changed all that much in that amount of time, or being able to kind of see where similarities and differences kind of remain. And so, doing that, I've also moved into more visual analysis of photographs and thinking about you know, what information would I be able to get from photographs that I might not be able to from you know the documents, and I think, particularly when it comes to the student perspective and it's limited, it provides like a comprehensive representation of what it meant to be a student, but I do think it can provide some information, and so I've been trying to kind of expand that.

Speaker 2:

And so, with your second question, I think what's important to kind of recognize is that the US really sets up a general framework, but the Dominican education administrators and the school officials and the teachers are really the ones that make adjustments in how they roll them out.

Speaker 2:

And so, for example, the US wanted to increase the number of rural schools, but then Dominican used parent associations to do that and they were the ones who built schools and they used parental buy-in to gauge. You know where they would go, for example, as I mentioned, on the border, recognizing which areas where they face most persistence, which would then influence where they decided to move forward and when. And so I think with that I think we can agree. Or anyone who's been in schools understands, like, just because you have this plan doesn't necessarily mean these ideas always get implemented in the ways that they are designed. And so, in that same fashion, like, to what extent can you really instill these ideas of Western superiority, of how the US perceived Dominican citizenship to be? It's always filtered through the perspective of the child, the child's family, they're all these other levels, and so I think it gets a little bit murkier.

Speaker 1:

That takes me to like a really interesting perspective when we consider, like the influence of imperialism right.

Speaker 1:

You made a point earlier about the ways that some of the Dominican teachers and also Dominican families had their own views of citizenship and wanting to uplift themselves and, you know, craft their own views on Dominican identity based on Educational uplift right. But alternatively, you know, just a few years later, around the period that we're talking about these reforms, you know the educational system pretty much collapses, this public education system collapses in just a few years. And so could you walk us through what led to this collapse? Because it was a just interesting to learn and hear about it in my mind, understanding that the US is doing the US's thing right. But Local people are really some of them, not all of them, of course are crafting this educational system to really support themselves and their future generations. But it collapses. And so you know just generally what led to the collapse and what effect did it have on particularly those more marginalized communities?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that was for me again one of those things that as I was doing my undergraduate research and I wasn't able to really do it as a 20-something year old and where I was able to kind of dig into the details when I was working on this for my dissertation. So there were multiple factors, but part of it was like this global economic downturn that's occurring and so that's part of it. So there's that the general context, but there's also Specific reforms that the US is putting in place that impact the funding of the schools, that eventually lead to the, the defunding of schools or the lack of resources associated with schools, and so that eventually leads to just the collapse of the school system because the school system really runs out of money and the In terms of the, the funding practice, the US is trying to implement these property taxes in the Dominican Republic. I don't want to get into too much of the details, but basically it's upending and just coming in conflict with their own Understanding of land-holding practices and their own kind of funding mechanisms. So the resistance from the rural community to these taxes, along with the General downturn and also just the fact that people just didn't have the money to be able to pay these property taxes because of the economic downturn. This all kind of Leads to schools not having enough money and then the school system having to be shut down and suspended, and and what ends up happening is that you have Dominican Guardians, parents who are already invested and already working to sustain their schools, continue to do so in the ways that they can, and so you have parents, you know, just continuing to donate materials and continue to open in schools, even during this context.

Speaker 2:

You even have teachers who are volunteering their time and who are contributing to this, and what's really sad is that or at least for me when reading these documents is that you have US officials who are recognizing that this is happening and kind of putting it on the teachers.

Speaker 2:

Rather than being adequately paid, they're talking about oh, look at how they're the values of this teacher who's giving up their time and so kind of seeing it as as like a positive, rather than seeing it as how they can Work to fix this issue and and, at the same time, where the US is funneling money into the building of the construction of school houses. So it's not that there's no money, it's where they're choosing to spend the money and where they're choosing to kind of funnel the money. But ultimately, you know, the, the defunding of the schools, leads to this kind of I don't know pre Preoccupation, because the schools expand significantly during the occupation but then it's significantly decreased. It is in the 1920s and so you have the school system that's struggling until the, the Procedure dictatorship that comes a few years later and takes over, and that's a whole other story and it's super fascinating when you have a dictator now, you know, trying to modernize the education system and using the education system for his own kind of agenda.

Speaker 1:

We've touched on that time period just briefly, not necessarily in terms of education, but I think you know some of our staunch supporters and listeners are a little bit familiar with Truyos Politics at the time, especially parsley massacre, etc. So, if you're not, definitely feel free to check out some more older episodes. I'll be sure to include them in our show notes. Now taking us back to not only this moment in history, but you know, looking at it today, we're almost a hundred years since the end of the occupation, so Obviously we're in 2023. The occupation ended in 1924, in your view, in you know this almost a hundred years since. How has Dominican Republic's educational system and you know the politics of what it means to be a Dominican citizen, evolved? You know what have been the challenges. What are, in your views, are like the major hopes for the future of Dominican citizenship and education, given this longer history?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think that's a really important question, especially in this moment, especially with this turn towards nationalism and policing the borders between the two countries. That's really concerning to me, incredibly concerning, it's not. It's not because it's new. It's not new. It's something that that was foundational to the country's inception, but it is alarming in its evolution, and particularly in this moment, with the closing of the border and the construction of the border law.

Speaker 2:

And so, in terms of hope, my hope is that we take a hard look at what's happening in the Dominican Republic. Both people in the Dominican Republic, but I asked for those in the Caribbean all of us kind of take a look at what's happening in the country, contextualize it within the history of, you know, us imperialism, colonialism, and use that to address the humanitarian crisis that's taking place. And then, in terms of schools, I really do hope that there is a reexamination of how history and nationalism is taught, and while I don't think that that these ideas really originate there, like these ideas about what a Dominican citizenship is or what does Dominican nationality is, I do think that schools do perpetuate them. And so I think that by looking to address them and maybe expand, I would say, or Look at ways in which they can be challenged. We can also work to correct this kind of larger discussion and and and perspective that unfortunately, unfortunately, is present and it's present in the population but also in discourse, but present in policy that are implemented for sure.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for sharing that. That was beautiful and really powerful. I know we're almost at a time, but I do definitely want to ask you what are some of your favorite ways that this history of Dominican education and, you know, especially at the time period shows up in popular culture, and that can be anything from a novel to a poem to a song, and I'm always looking for alternative ways for us to you know, grasp and understand history through the power of our creations.

Speaker 2:

So I would recommend Nelly Rosario's Song of the Waterstain, because that really talks about the period of the occupation, but in terms of history of Dominican education.

Speaker 2:

So Julial Perez has a book and she's most famous for In the Time of the Butterfly oh, you do know that one so that one takes place in the Domingo Republic during the end of the Dujido era and her family, you know, working to take down the dictator. And so in the first chapter of the Eraser of the Shape of the Domingo Republic, it actually takes place in a classroom and it even talks about the relationship between the US, since the main character is attending an American school and with an American teacher, and so she also describes the room and the fact that the Dujido's portrait is up there and all the things that happen in the era. And so I particularly love this question because I am, in terms of my own work, like I love to read fiction as a way, especially historical fiction, as a way to kind of think about that time period and think about the different people, the different people that I come across in the archives, and so I think fiction and history just just work really well together. So thank you for that.

Speaker 1:

I agree, you stole mine, so I'm happy that you shared and gave a much better synopsis of it than I would have. So definitely check out those two books. Of course, I will link them for you all on our show notes below. So in closing, though, thank you so much, dr Rodriguez, for sharing this wealth of knowledge with us. I'm really excited to you know read Crafting Dominicaidad. I butchered that I think.

Speaker 2:

I think you said it great, I did Okay fine, I don't know.

Speaker 1:

Anywho, I'm really excited to read Crafting Dominicaidad when it comes out with UNC Press in a few, so I will again. Of course, we'll flag it on our social medias when it's released, but again, thank you so much for joining me in this exploration of education in the Caribbean. Thank you to our listeners for being part of our episode and till next time, look for more.

Education and US Imperialism in D.R
Challenges and Perspectives on Education Reform
Evolution of Dominican Education and Citizenship

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