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Borders of Visibility, Borders of Visibility, 0817319670, 0-8173-1967-0, 978-0-8173-1967-0, 9780817319670, , , Borders of Visibility, 0817391584, 0-8173-9158-4, 978-0-8173-9158-4, 9780817391584, , , Borders of Visibility, 0817360573, 0-8173-6057-3, 978-0-8173-6057-3, 9780817360573,

Borders of Visibility
Haitian Migrant Women and the Dominican Nation-State
by Jennifer L. Shoaff

Trade Cloth
2017. 208 pp.
19 B&W figures / 1 map
Price:  $59.95 s
E Book
2017. 206 pp.
19 B&W figures / 1 map
Price:  $29.95 d
Quality Paper
2022. 206 pp.
19 B&W figures / 1 map
Price:  $29.95 s

An anthropological study of Haitian migrant women’s mobility in the Dominican Republic.

Borders of Visibility offers extremely timely insight into the Dominican Republic’s racist treatment of Haitian descendants within its borders. Jennifer L. Shoaff employs multisited feminist research to focus on the geographies of power that intersect to inform the opportunities and constraints that migrant women must navigate to labor and live within a context that largely denies their human rights, access to citizenship, and a sense of security and belonging.
Paradoxically, these women are both hypervisible because of the blackness that they embody and invisible because they are marginalized by intersecting power inequalities. Haitian women must contend with diffuse legal, bureaucratic and discursive state-local practices across “border” sites that situate them as a specific kind of threat that must be contained. Shoaff examines this dialectic of mobility and containment across various sites in the northwest Dominican Republic, including the official border crossing, transborder and regional used-clothing markets, migrant settlements (bateyes), and other rural-urban contexts.
Shoaff combines ethnographic interviews, participant observation, institutional analyses of state structures and nongovernmental agencies, and archival documentation to bring this human rights issue to the fore. Although primarily grounded in critical ethnographic practice, this work contributes to the larger fields of transnational feminism, black studies, migration and border studies, political economy, and cultural geography. Borders of Visibility brings much needed attention to Haitian migrant women’s economic ingenuity and entrepreneurial savvy, their ability to survive and thrive, their often impossible choices whether to move or to stay, returning them to a place of visibility, while exposing the very structures that continue to render them invisible and, thus, expendable over time.

Jennifer L. Shoaff is a sociocultural anthropologist focusing on transnational feminist topics and studies of race in the Caribbean, particularly in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

“Anthropologist Shoaff's study of Haitian migrant women working in the Dominican Republic lends a Hispaniola-based focus to what has already emerged in Europe, North America, and other parts of the world: nativist exacerbation of economic exploitation and other areas of social conflict.  . . . What should be of significant interest to both scholars and humanitarians at this juncture of history, however, is the phenomenon (in more than one part of the world) of the convergence of the utility of cheap labor and services, nativism as a facilitator of their devaluation, racism as a convenient tool for labor-force identification and, finally, sophisticated opinion-altering media tools supporting the above. Recommended.”

“A valuable anthropological gem that will have impact for years to come. It gives women on the Dominican Republic border a human face. This is much-needed nuanced ethnography that takes the marginalized out of obscurity while exposing the extent to which their invisibility is a chimera.”
—Gina Athena Ulysse, author of Why Haiti Needs New Narratives: A Post-Quake Chronicle and Downtown Ladies: Informal Commercial Importers, a Haitian Anthropologist, and Self-Making in Jamaica

Borders of Visibility is an essential contribution to scholarship on borders, mobilities, transnational migration, gender, racism and intersectionality. This monograph is rich in ethnographic data and theoretical analysis, while also providing critical historical and geopolitical reflection on the contemporary postcolonial setting of the Hispaniola Island, refreshing with new evidence the academic work on Haitian and Dominican studies.”
Journal of Latin American Studies
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