“Dominicanidad” in Short Stories by Aurora Arias and Rita Indiana Hernández
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The dominant ideology in the Dominican Republic celebrates their European past, denies their African past and emphasizes whiteness and Catholicism. “Dominicanidad” or dominicanness is a myth-like term that encompasses the elements of the dominant ideology. “Dominicanidad” determines what it means to be Dominican and what it does not mean. This ideology has been produced and maintained throughout history. Literature has been another factor in the production and maintenance of the national ideology. Aurora Arias and Rita Indiana Hernández are two contemporary Dominican authors that explore and critique “Dominicanidad”. The authors use Santo Domingo as the protagonist in their narratives to show how the history, the economy, and social factors have shaped and continue to shape the city, people, and national identity. I read short stories by Aurora Arias and Rita Indiana Hernández. The stories questioned the Dominican history, how Dominicans understand that history today, and how that history has formed and transformed the meaning of “Dominicanidad.” Auror Arias situated her stories during the 1980s around the economic crisis. Two of the major changes resulting from the economic crisis were an increase in migration especially to the United States and a restructuring of the economy to more service based. In her stories she showed how the economic crisis and the resulting changes affected people’s lives and how those effects redefined “Dominicanidad”. Rita Indiana Hernández’s stories focused on sexuality, consumerism, and the influence of the United States. Her stories explain that there is still a dominant ideology that centers on an European heritage, whiteness, and denial of African heritage. The characters demonstrate the social pressures to be part of a homogenous Dominican identity. From Arias and Rita Indiana’s stories, “Dominicanidad” is not homogenous as it has historically been portrayed.