Identities and Local Politics
Patricia R. Pessar and Pamela M. Graham
From the late 1960s to the present, the Dominican Republic has consistently ranked among the top ten countries sending immigrants to the United States; and by the 1980s this small Caribbean nation was the leading source of emigration into New York City (New York City Department of City Planning 1992). An estimated 412,000 foreignborn Dominicans resided in the city in 1998, 1 with the majority living in upper Manhattan (Foner 2000:12).
Most studies of Dominicans in New York have concentrated on their economic incorporation (Pessar 1987; Grasmuck and Pessar 1991; Guarnizo 1992; Gilbertson and Gurak 1993; Hernández et al. 1995). Clearly, this is an important perspective. Dominicans themselves sometime say, “No hay vida en Nuevo York, solamente trabajo” (there is no life in New York, only work). Yet the focus on economic issues detracts from the rich social, cultural, and political lives Dominicans have fashioned (Duany 1994; Pessar 1995; Graham 1996; Torres-Saillant and Hernández 1998).
To contribute to a fuller and more balanced picture, this chapter focuses on Dominican New Yorkers' political development over the course of the last few decades. 2 In doing so, we will describe Dominicans' simultaneous incorporation