“Black behind the Ears,
and Up Front, Too”
Ideological Code Switching
and Ambiguity in Dominican Identities
If people can be close or remote from one another in many
ways, it is the compresence of characteristics of closeness and
remoteness along any of those dimensions—the very dissonance
embodied in the dualism—that makes the position of strangers
socially problematic in all times and places. When those who
should be close, in any sense of the term, are actually close, and
those who should be distant are distant, everyone is “in his place.”
When those who should be distant are close, however, the
table result is a degree of tension and anxiety which necessitates
some special kind of response.—Donald Nathan
As group markers the difference between citizenship and iden-
tity is that, while the former carries legal weight, the latter carries
social and cultural weight.—Engin F. Isin and Patricia K.
The sociological aspects unique to Dominican techniques of the body
are signaled precisely in the remainder of the Dominican poet Juan
Antonio Alix’s famous nineteenth-century décima “El negro tras de la
oreja,” whose opening stanza was quoted in the introduction and from
which this book draws its title. Alix began his exegesis by claiming that
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