Masculinity after Trujillo: The Politics of Gender in Dominican Literature

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Any observer of Dominican political and literary discourse will quickly notice how certain notions of hyper-masculinity permeate the culture. Many critics will attribute this to an outgrowth of traditional Latin American patriarchal culture. Masculinity after Trujillo demonstrates why they are mistaken. In this extraordinary work, Maja Horn argues that this common Dominican attitude became ingrained during the dictatorship (1930-61) of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, as well as through the U.S. military occupation that preceded it. Where previous studies have focused mainly on Spanish colonialism and the controversial sharing of the island with Haiti, Horn emphasizes the underexamined and lasting influence of U.S. imperialism and how it prepared the terrain for Trujillo's hyperbolic language of masculinity. She also demonstrates how later attempts to emasculate the image of Trujillo often reproduced the same masculinist ideology popularized by his government. By using the lens of gender politics, Horn enables readers to reconsider the ongoing legacy of the Trujillato, including the relatively weak social movements formed around racial and ethnic identities, sexuality, and even labor. She offers exciting new interpretations of such writers as Hilma Contreras, Rita Indiana Hernandez, and Junot Diaz, revealing the ways they successfully challenge dominant political and canonical literary discourses.