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Purging the past : Palma Sola, Trujillo, and the salvation of the Dominican nation Mooney, Kathrine Erin


This essay examines the rise of Palma Sola, a religious community in the south-west region of the Dominican Republic, in the wake of the assassination of the long-reigning dictator, Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. The focus of the thesis is on the divergent narratives produced within the community at Palma Sola and those produced by actors in the capital, leading up to an armed intervention by state forces at the end of December 1962. A central argument is made that, despite very different viewpoints on the significance and function of Palma Sola, both narratives evince a concern with reorganizing the meaning of the dictatorial past, and a desire to chart a path toward a more auspicious future. Throughout, this paper suggests that practice must be examined alongside discourses and symbols in historical explorations of culture. Further, it argues that relying on oversimplified definitions of “religion” and the “nation” can be misleading, for it disallows an analysis that can locate the conjoined roots of these divergent narratives.

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