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Werewolves and Other Bêtes Noires: Sorcery as History in the Haitian-Dominican Borderlands

March 1, 2021 @ 6:00 pm

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As part of the Distinguished Scholar Speaker Series, join us for a talk with UCLA’s Associate History Professor Robin Derby. Robin Derby’s area of research includes the French and Spanish Caribbean, especially the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Derby’s work has focused on everyday life under regimes of state terror, the long durée social history of the Haitian and Dominican borderlands, and how notions of race, national identity and witchcraft have been articulated in popular media such as rumor, food and animals. Her book, The Dictator’s Seduction: Politics and the Popular Imagination in the Era of Trujillo (Duke, 2009; published in Spanish by the Academy of History of the Dominican Republic, 2016), treated public culture and daily life during one of the longest dictatorships in Latin America, the regime of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic (1930-61). It considered how the regime extended the state into civil society through incorporating quotidian practices such as gossip, gift exchange, and witchcraft into the repertoire of domination.

Her other work includes (co-editor) Activating the Past: History and Memory in the Black Atlantic World; (co-editor) The Dominican Republic Reader and articles on the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Puerto Rico. Her current book project, which considers werewolf narratives in light of the ‘animal turn’ is based on oral testimony of demonic animal apparitions in Haiti and the Dominican Republic and is entitled Werewolves and other Bêtes Noires: Sorcery as History in the Haitian-Dominican Borderlands.


March 1, 2021
6:00 pm