Title

Mujeres, myths, and margins: Afro-Dominican women within a capitalist world-economy

Date of Award

2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

Advisor(s)

Linda Carty

Keywords

Capitalism, Afro-Dominican

Subject Categories

Sociology

Abstract

Utilizing a qualitative, feminist research design, this thesis explores how the every-day lives of Afro-Dominican working class women in the Dominican Republic are affected because of the country's position as a 'peripheral' or 'developing' state within a capitalist world-economy. Attention is given to the ways raced and gendered processes of uneven economic development, which have arguably contributed to the globalization of capital, shape the lives of Afro-Dominican working class women in particular ways. The thesis' theoretical framework--is composed of a conversation between Black and Transnational feminisms, critical race, and states theories--permits an understanding of how relations of domination, such as those related to capitalism, are sustained through mobilizations of meaning. The ideological appropriation of the myths of a racial democracy and the male breadwinner exemplifies how this mobilization of meaning devalues the labor of working class Afro-Dominican women. The thesis will further demonstrate how Euro-American states, with the assistance of the Dominican state, utilize Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) to further exploit this labor force. These SAPs facilitate the racialization and feminization of poverty, which pushes many women into the informal sectors. The over-representation of Afro-Dominican women in informal sectors of the Dominican economy, specifically their roles as sex workers, will help to illustrate the adverse affects that mobilizations of meaning via SAPs have on so-called developing countries. Lastly, and most importantly, this analysis does not remain at the level of exploitation as it explores how women sustain a heightened sense of consciousness within these conservative discourses surrounding raced and gendered processes of economic development. Women's own understanding of themselves as participants in both the formal and informal sectors of the Dominican labor market will be brought to the fore of the thesis to demonstrate how women engage in everyday practices that support claims of their agency and resistance to the larger socio-economic forces associated with the globalization of capital. I have chosen to write Afro-Latina women into history to show that they are capable of and also enact certain types of agency that are particular to their lives and histories. The overall aim of the thesis is to determine how and if women contribute to larger projects of decolonization and transformation.

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