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Meanderings on the Making of a Diasporic Hybrid Identity

Dulce María Gray

In 1965, the United States invaded the Dominican Republic for the third time. The invasion spurred waves of emigration and brought a million and a half Dominicans and their uniquely complex ideas about ethnic cultural identity to the United States. Often, those ideas clashed with American cultural notions and caused a great deal of unrecognized emotional trauma for Dominican immigrants. This clash was particularly problematic for those who arrived in the early 1960s before “identity” was a fashionable topic of discussion.

Although scholarship is now saturated with the issue of ethnic cultural identity, there is a shortage of material about Dominican Americans’ specific experiences. This book examines one Dominican American’s developing self-knowledge about what it means to have left the Dominican Republic as a child during a time of war and to have arrived and grown up in an often hostile American society. It describes and analyzes the cycle of loss, yearning, recognition, and understanding, as framed by key cultural events and experiences that mark the process of negotiating and constructing a “Dominican American” identity in the diaspora.
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University Press of America
Pages: 120Size: 6 1/2 x 9 1/4
978-0-7618-6022-8 • Hardback • December 2012 • $58.00 • (£39.95)
978-0-7618-6594-0 • Paperback • August 2015 • $32.99 • (£22.95)
Dulce María Gray is professor of English at West Valley College where she teaches composition, women’s studies, and contemporary American and world literature. She earned a Ph.D. in language, literature, and literacy studies at Indiana University Bloomington. She is an avid traveler and is currently working on a collection of travel narratives.
Chapter 1: Pensées/Rationale
Chapter 2: Loss/Eulogy
Chapter 3: Yearning/Reminiscences and Nostalgia
Chapter 4: Recognition/On Reading Dominican-American Literature
Chapter 5: Understanding/My Mother and Grandmother’s Feminism
Chapter 6: Conclusion/Reclamation
Works Cited
Half testimonio half theoretical reflection on the construction of a hybrid cultural condition, this is a well-written and fascinating book. Contrary to cryptic academic books, Gray graciously intertwines testimonio, family, and historical recollections, and abstract concepts to identify unexpected connections and revelations in the making of Dominican-American identity. Her gendered perspective anchors discussions about race, ethnicity, socio-economic class, literacy and her Abuelita’s patio in Santo Domingo as the locus of persistent and influential memories. Clearly, for Gray, writing this book is a way of healing the open wounds of exile and of mourning and overcoming the loss inherent in being transplanted to American culture. If I were to characterize Meanderings on the Making of a Diasporic Hybrid Identity in three adjectives, I would say: deep, versatile, and clear.
Fernando Valerio-Holguín, professor of Spanish and Latin American literature at Colorado State University, author of Banalidad posmoderna: ensayos sobre identidad cultural latinoamericana, Elogio de las salamandras, Presencia de Trujillo en la narrativa contemporánea

In Meanderings on the Making of a Diasporic Hybrid Identity, the author, Dulce María Gray, describes her journey from her birth in the Dominican Republic, her immigration as a child to the United States, growing up in the Bronx, and becoming a scholar with a Ph.D. She analyzes her experiences fighting labels, categorizations, and denigrating perceptions about Latinos and the often painful process of negotiating her ethnic identity until she arrives at a more intellectual and liberated way of seeing herself. Dr. Gray’s passion and respect for “writing” is palpable. She finds that writing provides the means to understand and shape her own development; she writes: ‘when I consider my self, that self reveals itself to me and thus I change, usually for the better.’ Dr. Gray’s stories about herself, her family and friends are interwoven with her two countries’ histories, creating a beautiful personal and cultural tapestry.
Yuko Kurahashi, associate professor of theatre history, theory and criticism in the School of Theatre and Dance at Kent State University, author of Asian American Culture on Stage, Multicultural Theater

Profound in its sincerity, in its cartography of the often painful journey to arrive at a self that is realigned with the cosmic grace that sustains our everydayness, and which her palimpsest-like writing and her life experiences illuminate—in this book Gray examines the layered process of constructing a hybrid identity.
Aida L. Heredia, associate professor of Hispanic studies at Connecticut College, author of De la recta a las cajas chinas: la poesía de José Koser and La representación del haitiano en las letras dominicanas