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Contrapunteo Dominicano : Pedro F. Bonó and Nineteenth- Century Santo Domingo


This dissertation explores the understudied Dominican intellectual Pedro Francisco Bonó (1828-1906). I argue that his texts are critical for studying the moment of capitalist transformation in the Dominican Republic between 1870 and 1930 and also for examining key questions in nineteenth-century Dominican historiography. Examining the historical roots of his works, the dissertation explores the ways his essays relate capitalism, race and Dominican history in his defense of the peasantry and the "democratic" effects of tobacco production. It argues that his essays draw from the anti-colonial legacy of mid- nineteenth century revolutionary movements in the wider Caribbean and the resilient counter-plantation legacy of the Dominican peasantry. His texts are read as an elite adaptation of popular sentiment during Santo Domingo's labored independence from the 1820s through the 1870s. In addition, his essays are read as part of an intellectual tradition of Dominican anti-imperialism and anti-slavery, challenging approaches that see him as standing completely apart from other nineteenth-century Dominican writers. Chapter 1, "El Montero : Popular History and Memory in Santo Domingo" sets up the historical context for understanding Bonó's writings and the historical roots of his political critique. Primary documents that deal with black popular struggle in Santo Domingo and figures like Antonio Sánchez Valverde and Moreau de Saint-Méry are studied to narrate Santo Domingo's remarkable agrarian history. Chapter 2, "Pedro Francisco Bonó and Dominican Independence" is an exploration of Bonó's earliest writings within the frame of the Haitian period and the first republic (1822-1865). It argues that his later radicalization is informed by the anti-imperial legacy of this mid-century period. Chapter 3, "Bonó and Capitalist Transformation, 1880-1895", focuses on close readings of his texts during the development of the sugar industry. Chapter 4, "Contrapunteo del Tabaco y el Cacao : Bonó and Antillanismo, 1895-1906", reads his proto-ortizian contrapunteo of "democratic" Dominican tobacco and "oligarchic" cacao. The dissertation concludes with a discussion of the relevance of Bonó for the current neoliberal moment in the Caribbean

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