Friction and Flow in a Dominican Tourist Town
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Drawing on archival and internet research, informational interviews, in-depth participant observation, and informant photo essays, this dissertation examines the shifts that globalization—the reshaping of borders in an expanding capitalist world market—is introducing to the diverse inhabitants, both cosmopolitans and those who lack access to the formal economy, of a Dominican tourist town. It also examines the state “from below” in analyzing the effects and processes of statecraft (the placement of people, the selective application of its laws and policing, etc.) in an environment that privileges the “flows” of finance capital. This work appropriates French sociologist Henri Lefebvre’s place-based dialectical categories of abstract (hegemonic) and differential space to highlight the importance of place-making amidst global flows. It then applies this theory to sites of conflict which include contentious and productive negotiations around informal labor economies and land ownership among a diverse set of subjects from Haitian moneylenders and Dominican sex workers to European “perpetual travelers” and cruise ship tourists. I conclude with some final thoughts about the ongoing dialectic of power relationships that constitute borderwork and sociospatial segregation. In tracking the perception of vulnerability and empowerment for various social actors in this emerging space dominated by tourism development, I demonstrate how borders around race, nation, gender, and citizenship strengthen and weaken in relation to experienced degrees of friction and flow.