Masculinity after Trujillo: The Politics of Gender in Dominican Literature

Masculinity after Trujillo: The Politics of Gender in Dominican Literature

Masculinity after Trujillo: The Politics of Gender in Dominican Literature

Masculinity after Trujillo: The Politics of Gender in Dominican Literature


"Provides an insightful look at the persistent power of masculinism in Dominican post-dictatorship politics and literature."--Ignacio López-Calvo, author of God and Trujillo

"The ideas about masculinization of power developed by Horn are important not only to Dominican scholarship but also to Caribbean and other Latin American students of the intersection of history, political power, and gendered practices and discourses."--Emilio Bejel, author of Gay Cuban Nation

Any observer of Dominican political and literary discourse will quickly notice how certain notions of hyper-masculinity permeate the culture. Many critics will attribute this to an outgrowth of "traditional" Latin American patriarchal culture. Masculinity after Trujillo demonstrates why they are mistaken.

In this extraordinary work, Maja Horn argues that this common Dominican attitude became ingrained during the dictatorship (1930-61) of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, as well as through the U.S. military occupation that preceded it. Where previous studies have focused mainly on Spanish colonialism and the controversial sharing of the island with Haiti, Horn emphasizes the underexamined and lasting influence of U.S. imperialism and how it prepared the terrain for Trujillo's hyperbolic language of masculinity. She also demonstrates how later attempts to emasculate the image of Trujillo often reproduced the same masculinist ideology popularized by his government.

By using the lens of gender politics, Horn enables readers to reconsider the ongoing legacy of the Trujillato, including the relatively weak social movements formed around racial and ethnic identities, sexuality, and even labor. She offers exciting new interpretations of such writers as Hilma Contreras, Rita Indiana Hernández, and Junot Déaz, revealing the ways they successfully challenge dominant political and canonical literary discourses.


The Dominican presidential campaign leading up to the 2012 elections littered the national landscape with political slogans. Among these was the presidential candidate Hipólito Mejía’s ubiquitous “Llegó Papá” (Daddy’s here). This slogan largely overrode more usual political promises, evincing the power of the discourse of masculinity in Dominican politics. the important role that gender plays in constructing citizenship and state power in the Dominican Republic demands a more complex understanding of hegemonic notions of Dominican masculinity, of the conceptions of femininity that they produce, and of their historical emergence. While such evocations of masculinity are usually rationalized as instances of centuries-old “traditional” Latin American patriarchal culture, Masculinity after Trujillo argues that today’s hegemonic notions of masculinity were consolidated during the dictatorship of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo (1930–1961) and thus are in many ways a distinctly modern formation. in turn, Trujillo’s own pervasively hypervirile discourse was, at least in part, a strategic response to the imperial and racialized notions of masculinity that accompanied the U.S. presence in the country, especially during the U.S. military occupation (1916–1924). Against the tendency to equate Trujillo’s discourse of masculinity simply with that of a stereotypical Latin American “strongman,” or caudillo, I point to the importance of accounting for how transnational and imperialist . . .

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