Academic journal article Afro - Hispanic Review

Foucault, Genocide, Criminology, and Eugenics: Reflections on the Work of Freddy Prestol Castillo

Academic journal article Afro - Hispanic Review

Foucault, Genocide, Criminology, and Eugenics: Reflections on the Work of Freddy Prestol Castillo

Article excerpt

A Foucauldian reading of the work of dominican author, jurist, and criminologist Freddy prestol castillo has much that is unflattering to teach ius about the relationship between genocide, criminology, race, and the nation state, not only in the dominican republic, but also in Western culture writ large. such a reading contextualizes the critical consensus on prestol's work, which, based solely on his novel El Masacre se pasa a pie (1973), sees him as a self-deluding primitivist and even war criminal who at best, in the words of doris sommer, "refuses or rather neglects to falsify history, probably because he is unaware that his honesty damns him" ("Guilt and Impotence" 181). In contrast, Foucauldian discursive analysis, as refined by edward said and ann laura stoler, reveals the complex thought of a liberal intellectual who waged a long rhetorical campaign against the authoritarian anti-haitian nationalism of the trujillo dictatorship and the Balaguer presidency, in favor of a more inclusive and multi-racial, if still elitist, democracy. In the movements and tropes of this discursive battle, from the criminological essays in prestol's Distribución geográfica del crimen (1940) to the pages of El Masacre se pasa a pie, I hope to show not only the contradictory advances of a liberal thinker who failed to completely transcend the prejudices of his class and moment, but also the unbroken narrative of what Foucault termed the biopolitical state, which has re-coded racism in ways that continue to exert social control through the body and to march through adaptive means to a racially encoded eugenics.

In the dominican context, an understanding of the biopolitical state begins with the authoritarian, anti-haitian nationalism against which prestol struggled, both politically and internally. although a detailed archeology of this ideology is beyond the scope of the present analysis, it is instructive to examine two related acts of genocide-one written in ink, the other in blood-that gave birth to antihaitian nationalism as prestol received it. the first of these was the publication of Manuel de Jesús Galván's novel Enriquillo (1882), which made the already evolving neocolonial discourse of Indianism an intrinsic part of dominican national identity. I call this discourse Indianism in recognition of my substantial debt to said, who famously redefined orientalism as a discourse in the Foucaldian sense: a system of representation of the other deployed in a complex struggle for power: "[p]ower political (as with a colonial or imperial establishment), power intellectual (as with reigning sciences [. . .]), power cultural (as with orthodoxies and canons of taste, texts, values), power moral [. . .]" (12). Indianism, like orientalism, began as a colonial discourse which posited an intrinsic, binary opposition between the european and the other, the terms of which varied according to the prevailing european ideologies of the moment, but always asserting the superiority of the european element. In the dominican republic, the transformation of colonial Indianism into a neocolonial, nationalist discourse was shaped by a generalized resentment against the haitian occupation of 1822-1844, elite fears of a massive slave uprising, and a desire on the part of the afro-dominican majority to avoid the stigma of slavery. the result is a discourse that operates through erasure. Indianism taught dominicans to despise and deny their african roots, and to adopt a fictitious identification with the long-vanished indigenous population of the island, the fabled "quisqueyanos valientes" of the national anthem. as the largely mulato nation assumed the mask of the hispano-indigenous mestizo, dominicans defined themselves in opposition to haitians along old colonial binaries: White/Black, hispanic/african, christian/santero, rational/irrational, civilized/primitive (stinchcomb 1-35).

As the dominican critic pedro conde noted in one of the first critical studies of Enriquillo, for dominican elites, this system of representation was always, among other things, a system of political, social, and cultural control. …

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