As an academic writer and teacher, I am constantly thinking of how to best convey complex ideas effectively. These days, I have my work cut out for me as I revise my dissertation for publication as a book.
The working title for my book is Converting Hispaniola: Religious Race-Making in the Dominican Americas (see details to the right).
This past year, I also published Analysis of Evangelical Christianity in the Dominican Republic (2018). This report on two historical Protestant churches in the contemporary Dominican Republic is available in English and Spanish. The report launched in New York at the United Nations (Feb. 2019) and in Santo Domingo at the Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo and the Universidad Nacional Evangélica (Nov. 2018).
My other journal articles and book reviews appear in the New West Indian Guide, the Journal of Africana Religions, the Hispanic American Historical Review, and the Journal of African American History. Read below for more information and to download copies. Or, visit my page at Academia.edu.
Converting Hispaniola: Religious Race-Making in the Dominican Americas
In the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War and Reconstruction, white and black Americans' competing notions of Christian morality converged in the city of Santo Domingo as both groups set out to reform or "convert" Hispaniola into a nation in their racial own image.
This study examines the history and current state of evangelical Christianity in the Dominican Republic. It focuses on two traditional Protestant denominations: the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Dominican Evangelical Church. Americans founded these denominations in the Dominican Republic during key moments in the country’s history, including the period of Haitian rule (1822-1844) and the first U.S. occupation (1916-1924). Using historical documents and interviews with church leaders, this report focuses on the ways that each institution adapted to Dominican society in the twentieth century while maintaining ties to the United States. It also questions how factors such as social marginalization, racial discrimination, Pentecostalism’s growth in Dominican society, and continued connections to U.S. institutions have affected the trajectory of these two churches and Dominican evangelicals in general. Ultimately, this research builds upon the extant literature on Dominican Protestantism by examining how Dominican evangelicals conceptualize their history, their place within Dominican society, and their historic and current ties to U.S. institutions.
Converting Spanish Hispaniola: The AME Church in the Dominican Republic
African Americans established the first Protestant churches in the Dominican Republic in the nineteenth century. How and why did black Americans try to convert Catholic Dominicans?
This dissertation employs a diasporic framework to study the intersections of race, religion, and nationalism in Dominican society. It argues that in a country where elites have used state power and historiography to define national identity as Catholic, Spanish, and white, Protestant history reveals non-Catholic religious ties between Dominicans, African Americans, Haitians, and West Indians and offers a counter framework for understanding the Dominican Republic within the African Diaspora. Using church records, newspapers, and court cases, it examines the biographies of Afro-descended religious leaders, tracing their movements throughout the Caribbean and the United States at the end of the nineteenth century. It reveals how African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans imagined themselves, interacted with each other, and articulated various racial, religious, and political identities. Ultimately, this dissertation demonstrates that black Protestants’ religious beliefs provided an ideological basis for Afro-diasporic endeavors such as AME missions in the Caribbean. Despite these ties, anti-American sentiment in the Dominican Republic, poverty among black migrants, and public scandal limited the growth of black Protestantism in the Dominican Republic. These factors resulted in the social marginalization of the diasporic black church.
Disruptive Silences: the AME Church and Dominican-Haitian Relations
Despite inspiring millions of people to fight racial oppression, why did the AME Church not speak out against the 1937 genocide at the Haiti-DR border?
Often recognized for its advocacy on behalf of African descendants, the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church has been silent on issues regarding anti-Haitian sentiment in the Dominican Republic. By tracing the historical connection between Black America and Haiti in the nineteenth century and recounting the twentieth-century history of the AME Church in the Dominican Republic, this article explains how an institution created in defense of racial equality could inadvertently facilitate its own silencing. Using archival research, ethnography, and interviews, this article critically analyzes narratives that distance Dominican African Methodists from African Americans and Haitians. It argues that such silences in the AME Church are the result of the church’s social marginalization in the Dominican Republic, African American leaders’ habitual neglect of the AME Church’s Dominican branches, and the assimilation of Black Anglophone migrants into Dominican culture.
Black Protestants in a Catholic Land: The AME Church in the DR 1899-1916
How has the traditional narrative of African American emigrants in Samaná, DR obscured a broader history of black Protestantism in eastern Hispaniola?
The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, a black Church founded in the United States in 1816, was first established in eastern Haiti when over 6,000 black freemen emigrated from the United States to Hispaniola between 1824 and 1825. Almost a century later, the AME Church grew rapidly in the Dominican Republic as West Indians migrated to the Dominican southeast to work on sugar plantations. This article examines the links between African-American immigrant descendants, West Indians, and U.S.-based AME leaders between the years 1899-1916. In focusing on Afro-diasporic exchange in the Church and the hardships missionary leaders faced on the island, the article reveals the unequal power relations in the AME Church, demonstrates the significance of the southeast to Dominican AME history, and brings the Dominican Republic into larger discussions of Afro-diasporic exchange in the circum-Caribbean.