Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Anthropology

First Advisor

Robert L. Schuyler

Abstract

By the end of 1825, 6,000 African Americans had left the United States to settle in the free black Republic of Haiti. After arriving on the island, 200 immigrants formed an enclave in what is now Samaná, Dominican Republic. The Americans in Samaná continued to speak English, remained Protestant (in a country of devout Catholics), and retained American cultural practices for over 150 years. Relying on historical archaeological methods, this dissertation explores the processes of community formation, maintenance, and dissolution, while paying particular attention to intersections of race and nation. Fieldwork took place in the Spring and Summer of 2010 and involved local archival research, oral history interviews, and an aboveground survey of the cemetery in Samaná. Oral histories stemming from linguistic research conducted in the 1980s were also incorporated into this study. Analyses show that the geopolitical isolation of the Samaná Peninsula, in addition to the immigrants' status as a large minority within a small but diverse population, allowed for the relatively unhindered formation of the American community. The immigrants and their descendants defined themselves in relation to the broader Samanesa population through their use of English, emphasis on a formal, English-language education for their children, their honesty and Protestant work ethic, and their devotion to God and their Methodist churches. Yet the 1930s, which saw the rise and adverse impact of the Trujillo regime, brought a series of changes to the town which led to the Americans' diminished social status and eventual loss of community cohesion. Finally, the American enclave in Samaná is placed into a broader context; the impact on the community of the various racialized national projects with which it has contended is examined. In addition, the Americans in Samaná are then looked at as a case study in processes of transnationalism and globalization.

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