Academic journal article Afro - Hispanic Review

Haitian Entanglements: ÉMile Nau's Histoire Des Caciques d'Haïti in Manuel De Jesús Galván's Enriquillo

Academic journal article Afro - Hispanic Review

Haitian Entanglements: ÉMile Nau's Histoire Des Caciques d'Haïti in Manuel De Jesús Galván's Enriquillo

Article excerpt

This article deconstructs the racially exclusive national narrative presented in the Dominican Manuel de Jesús Galván's 1882 novel, Enriquillo: leyenda histórica dominicana, by putting the novel in dialogue with Haitian Émile Nau's 1854 Histoire des caciques d'Haiti (History of the Indigenous Chiefs of Haiti), considering how the former work simultaneously resists and inscribes itself within the metanarrative of sixteenth-century New World antislavery that the latter presents.1 Although both texts draw on the colonial crónicas to tell the story of an Amerindian uprising led by the cacique Enrique on the island of Hispaniola during the early sixteenth-century, they deploy that history to different ends: Nau situates the rebellion at the beginning of an anticolonial, antislavery teleology that culminates in the Rebellion of Saint-Domingue of 1791 while Galván eschews references to African chattel slavery and uses Enrique's story to stress the indigenous and (particularly) Hispanic aspects of Dominican national history at the expense of the Afro-New World heritage that Nau exalts.

Both authors construct their narratives in response to the nineteenthcentury political realities of their respective countries. As Francophone Caribbean scholar Amy Reinsel explains, Hispaniola's indigenous past was a common theme in Haitian literature of the 1830s. In their effort to produce a national culture, Haitian writers turned to themes that would resonate in both halves of the island, which, at the time, were united under the government in Port-au-Prince. A typical member of the Haitian Generation of 1836, Nau located the country's identity in "a fusion with its own New World origins," such as the subaltern rebellions that had given rise to the nation (Dash, "Before and Beyond" 532). Meanwhile, writing in the aftermath of the Dominican Republic's many attempts to declare independence from the world's first black republic-efforts that would involve temporary reannexation to Spain from 1861 to 1865-Galván, like many of his compatriots, distances himself from the Haitian reading of Enrique's revolt in the context of radical antislavery in order to emphasize the Indo-Hispanic elements of his country's cultural history. While this canonical interpretation of Galván's work importantly draws attention to the rampant anti-Haitian sentiment of nineteenth-century Dominican lettered culture, by examining Enriquillo in the context of the Histoire, this article will show that antislavery has not been effaced from the Dominican novel, but, rather, displaced to the work's paratexts.2 In this way, Enriquillo, despite its ostensible Indo-Hispanic focus, inscribes itself within the same antislavery metanarrative as does Nau's Histoire-a fact that complicates traditional nationalist views of Dominican culture, which consider the Spanishspeaking country as racially and culturally distinct from the neighboring Haiti.3

In order to explain how readings of Haitian antislavery are central to Hispaniola's history-and how they haunt Galván's Enriquillo-this study makes use of Sybille Fischer's notion of "disavowal." According to Fischer, "disavowal" of the Rebellion of Saint Domingue is not totally silenced, as historian MichelRolphe Trouillot has suggested, but rather manifests itself indirectly through literary slippage. Drawing on concepts elaborated by Sigmund Freud in essays such as "Fetishism" (1928) and "The Splitting of the Ego in the Process of Self Defense" (1938), Fischer explains that "disavowal" functions as "una medida defensiva" employed by the Ego to protect itself from unprocessed trauma (Fischer, "Respuesta" 226). Existing "alongside recognition," the concept of disavowal "requires us to identify what is being disavowed, by whom, and for what reason" (Fischer, Modernity 38). Thus, "it is more a strategy (although not necessarily one voluntarily chosen) than a state of mind, and it is productive in that it brings forth further stories, screens, and fantasies that hide from view what must not be seen" (38). …

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