My work focuses on the extreme shifts that globalization - the reshaping of borders in an expanding capitalist world market - is introducing to the diverse inhabitants of a Dominican tourist town, particularly those who lack access to the formal economy such as market vendors, sex workers, taxi drivers, and Haitian construction workers.

 


      Deirdre Guthrie, PhD   Cultural Anthropologist

       

For my CV see here

       

            Between 2006-2009 I spent 24 months living in the Dominican Republic, conducting "participant observation" (aka "deeply hanging out") by working on a humpback whale-watching tour boat and volunteering in a local library, as part of my training as an anthropologist. I had heard of a place poised for development along the northeastern peninsula where Columbus allegedly first shed blood with the native Taino and today bohemian artists and mafia outlaws had settled amongst the local fishermen. While I was on the island the rate of development of the area was indeed fast and furious- a highway and two airports were constructed which placed this formerly "off the grid" Shangri-la decidedly on the global map as a tourist destination.

          I came to understand Las Ballenas (a pseudonym) as a town of imagined transgression in which many of its residents were drawn by a dream of crossing class, racial, and national boundaries in order to socially advance. But behind the tourist scrim designed to mystify exploitive power relations and class struggle there was a dense network of competitive, "tigueraje" (tiger-like hustler) strategies and negotiations involving police, gossip, and magic over claims to land, bodies, and identities. Desires entwine with political economic conditions in complex and often confusing ways to produce the imagined and material space known as Las Ballenas.

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