Review Of The Devil Behind The Mirror

2355 words - 9 pages

Steven Gregory’s book entitled The Devil Behind The Mirror is an ethnographical study of the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is in the Caribbean, it occupies the Western half of an island, while Haiti makes up the Eastern portion. Gregory attempts to study and analyze the political, social and cultural aspects of this nation by interviewing and observing both the tourists and locals of two towns Boca Chica and Andres. Gregory’s research centers on globalization and the transnational processes which affect the political and socio-economics of the Dominican Republic. He focuses on the social culture, gender roles, economy, individual and nation identity, also authority and power relations. Several of the major relevant issues facing Dominican society include racism, sexism, and discrimination, economy of resort tourism, sex tourism and the informal economy. The objective of Gregory’s ethnographic research is to decipher exclusionary practices incorporated by resort tourism, how it has affected locals by division of class, gender, and race, increasing poverty and reliance on an informal economy.

During Gregory’s ethnographic research in the Dominican Republic, he encounters many individuals, some tourists, others expatriates, as well as citizens native to the island. One individual by the name of Minaya, discusses changes in the sugar cane industry. In 1988 he became a worker at a sugar mill that his uncle owned, but claimed that the industry became “Capitalized” (Gregory 2007: 15). He explains this capitalization as the industry being leased out to private corporations, which incurred poor working conditions and minimal wages upon the laborers. Minaya also expresses the fact he has no formal education, a big factor in an island community where economic opportunities are already slim. Gregory examines the production and policing of the labor division, he tries to interpret structural adjustments, informal economy and exclusionary practices (Gregory 2007: 19). Other key historical issues are the sugar crisis and boom, and the United States’ occupation (Gregory 2007: 21-22). The intervention by the United States in 1965 played a major role in changing social structures of the Dominican Republic. Another individual Gregory encounters by the name of Gabriel Zapata tells of how he left the country for fear of political persecution by President Joaquin Balagar, whom had overthrown the previous regime of Juan Bosch. Zapata fled to the United States, only to be faced with racial prejudice and discrimination. After returning to the Dominican Republic some years later, he opened a resort hotel on the beach of Boca Chica. Zapata discusses the spatial insulation of resorts and exclusion of the native populations. International tourism led to a cultural hybridity (Gregory 2007: 55), this resulted in the construction of a racialized and genderized atmosphere, separating the tourists from the citizens. The formation of “Zona Turistica”, a...

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