Chapter 8: Cimmarronas, Ciguapas and Senoras: Hair, Beauty and National Identity in the Dominican Republic

This chapter addresses the social-historical factors leading to the development of concepts of race, ethnicity, and nationality in the Dominican Republic, and the ramiļ¬cations of these concepts on the economic realities of women in the country. Using the much contested subject of hair as a primary site of identity, this paper illustrates how the overarching concept of national identity, founded on white supremacist notions of race and ethnicity, affects women’s ability to participate in the Dominican economy. Simultaneously, this paper will present examples of women and communities and the forms in which they have resisted the social, political, and economic limitations imposed on them by colonial notions of beauty and “presentability.”