June 13, 2018
In an effort to keep alive stereotypes about Dominicans, a secretive group of US-based scholars known as The Only Ones recently launched Tigueraje Studies, a new—in their view— field of academic inquiry that seeks to understand Dominican society in both the island and abroad.
Critics of Tigueraje Studies argue that this is just a bad ploy to get funds from academia. Others, however, see no harm in delving into Dominican society by using themes that perpetuate myths about Dominicans that end up equating the people of this Caribbean republic with animal-like behavior. The moolah ain’t bad.
Prior to the emergence of Tigueraje Studies, a number of scholars working on Dominican, Haitian and Caribbean topics contributed to some degree to the reproduction of stereotypes—with animals in mind—so badly drawn they became caricatures, a reflection of the author’s views on race, gender and class.
A case in point: Michelle Wucker, a hero of Tigueraje Studies, scholar and author of Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola. Published in 1999, the (sloppy) thesis of this mainstream book pitted Dominicans and Haitians in perpetual conflict as though they were two enraged, irrational, violent birds or cocks—less than human or non-human, etc.
Excitement about Tigueraje Studies is in the air. Let’s see if Tigueraje Studies specialists are able to top Wucker’s book (a sort of eyesore) otherwise they are set to fail as scholars, writers, thinkers and the irony of it all, they are set to fail as practitioners of the tigueraje they want to conceptualize, study, problematize, deconstruct and ultimately, sell.