Building Bridges Through Visual Manifestations of Statelessness : Decolonial feminism and coalitional engagement against denial of genocide in the Dominican Republic
Abstract: The work presented aims to show the complexity, causes, and challenges of being stateless in the Dominican Republic through the medium of documentaries. This thesis will also uncoverpossibilities of resistance and coalitional engagement. To do so, I align myself with a decolonial feminist approach, which is a way of searching for alternative ways of being, doing, sensing, knowing, and loving for resistance, change, and a different future. This approach opens the possibility to understand statelessness within the triad of modernity/coloniality/decoloniality and to move beyond the Eurocentric inventions of human rights, the concept of citizenship, and the figure of the 'citizen'. Decolonial feminism also grapples with the problem of victimization and gives us a possibility to see stateless Dominicans of Haitian descent both as an oppressed and resistant community. In a phenomenological sense, the documentaries Stateless by Michèle Stephenson (2020) and Our Lives in Transit by Sofia Olins (2015), are used in this thesis to explain and explore the lived conditions of being stateless Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic. I am conscious that film studies and particularly documentary filmmaking are colonized spaces and tools of modernity to spread the white / Anglo male gaze through the films' very impact on our senses and perception. For this reason, the work presented delinks from traditional methodologies which are often taken for granted in social sciences and migration studies. I aim to achieve this goal by practicing decolonial feminism as a theory and methodological guide for this thesis. Consequently, this thesis is a bridge-making process and an exploration of methodologies to grasp the complex reality in the Dominican Republic by practicing this work as a researcher, an audience, and a resister. Through the inspiring work of black feminists, decolonial and Caribbean scholars, but most importantly the lived experiences and voices of stateless Dominicans of Haitian descent, I intend to argue statelessness as amodern form of genocide to explain its root causes and persistence. Then, I will support this argument by bridging the links between statelessness and the coloniality of gender. Lastly, the different "world"-traveling experiences of directors Michèle Stephenson and Sofia Olins will deepen the discussion around possibilities of resistance to ongoing modes of subjugation through decolonial feminism.
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