UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"Tragedy and glory" in the "unfortunate era" : understanding the creolization of Santo Domingo through the Boca Nigua revolt Hopkins, Jonathan


This thesis examines a slave revolt that occurred at the Boca Nigua sugar plantation in Santo Domingo (today the Dominican Republic) during the fall of 1796. The Spanish colony’s population at the time were coming to terms with revolution in St. Domingue (the French territory it shared an island with) and Santo Domingo’s cession to France in 1795. I argue the slave rebels who initiated the revolt at Boca Nigua and the colonial officials responsible for subduing it were influenced by creolization. Conceptually, the process involves people from divergent geographic origins arriving to the Caribbean through mass migration, and forging local cultures through the economic and political arrangements found in the colonial world. To illustrate how the peoples of Santo Domingo creolized in the tumultuous 1790s, I utilize microhistory—a theoretical framework that stresses the benefits of a micro scale, human agency, and analysis of big historical developments from a micro perspective. I show rebel slave leaders’ decision to revolt stemmed from their creole designation and identity in the plantation’s social hierarchy. The colonial authorities responsible for quelling the conflict and bringing the offenders to justice approached the situation with the intention of assuring local creole elites order would be maintained. These findings are situated within Dominican historiography as an effort to rethink the origins of the nation and its historic link to creolization.

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