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Oct 8

Nos Cambió La Vida/Our Lives Transformed: Stories of Statelessness in DR

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Livestreamed on YouTube
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Event poster

An event to launch the English digital translation of Nos Cambió La Vida, an anthology of memoirs written by Dominicans of Haitian Descent.

Barnard College Library and the Barnard Digital Humanities Center are pleased to host Nos Cambió la Vida / Our Lives Transformed: Stories of Statelessness in Dominican Republic (Digital Book Launch and Reflection), on Friday, October 8, 2021, at 3:00pm. Join us via live-stream on YouTube. 

About the event

In 2013, in the Dominican Republic, Tribunal Constitutional ruling 168/13 retroactively revoked birthright citizenship, which led to the denationalization of thousands of Dominican nationals of Haitian descent. In the aftermath of a ruling, in October 2013, We Are All Dominican (WAAD) formed in New York City as a collective of students, educators, scholars, artists, activists, and community members of Dominican and Haitian descent residing in the U.S. WAAD organizes panel discussions, community art workshops, protests, vigils, and street outreach to raise awareness on human rights violations in solidarity with movements led by Dominicans of Haitian descent fighting for inclusion and citizenship rights, such as Reconoci.do. Reconoci.do is an independent national organization comprised of Dominicans of Haitian descent impacted by denationalization. The first and only organization of its kind in the Dominican Republic, it functions throughout various districts in the Dominican Republic where its members reside. One of Reconoci.do's goals is to secure the rights of Dominicans of Haitian descent and to move towards greater equality in Dominican society. Some of the group’s work includes organizing educational activities about race and citizenship, providing advocacy and legal direction, and representing stateless Dominicans of Haitian descent in various global platforms.

WAAD and Reconoci.do have been in collaboration since 2013, but the seeds of this Digital Book Launch and Reflection were planted in 2017 when one of WAAD’s core members, Amarilys, participated in a writing workshop held in Santo Domingo over several weekends, facilitated for members of Reconoci.do and the communities they serve to have the space to tell their stories out loud. Those facilitated workshops would ultimately lead to the publication of their stories in book form as Nos Cambió La Vida. The workshops were intended to offer community building and affirmation through storytelling as a means to make connections between their experiences and the broader societal forces impacting them. They also served to establish an archive of these important lived experiences and a record of the impact of rulings like TC 168/13 has had on everyday life in a historically marginalized segment of Dominican society.

In 2018, at the request of Ana Maria Belique - a core member of Reconoci.do, WAAD agreed to translate Nos Cambió into English as a means to extend the reach of these important stories in order to build more solidarity with the movement and make connections to other related struggles in the larger African Diaspora. What was initially believed to be a quick task, developed into an almost two year process with about a dozen volunteers initially meeting at the Barnard Digital Humanities Center (DHC) in person in Fall of 2019. By the Spring of 2020 it shifted to regular virtual meetings with a smaller group of volunteers for nearly a year. These virtual translation sessions as workshops explored the purpose of transnational solidarity in a time when COVID-19 was devastating Black communities throughout the Americas, and having particular impact on our collaborators in DR. In addition to convening volunteers, WAAD worked closely with a professional translator and editor, and artist Yaneris Gonzalez who created the aesthetically powerful cover and graphics. Over several months, the Barnard Digital Humanities Center staff planned, designed, and coded a digital edition of the book which is now available for use as an open access educational resource: noscamb.io.

This event will celebrate the release of noscamb.io with readings by the authors and translators, as well as a conversation with Ana Belique and other panelists about the ongoing struggle against statelessness, 8 years after the infamous 168/13 ruling.

We hope that participants at the event and readers of the stories will be moved past the page and screen to take action in demanding that Dominicans of Haitian descent are given the basic human rights they have been stripped of. Our collective intention is to end anti-Black and anti-Haitian violence in the Dominican Republic and across the Americas. Please join us.

Co-sponsors include: Barnard Digital Humanities Center, Reconoci.do and We Are All Dominican (WAAD). Funding provided by the Barnard Digital Humanities Center and WAAD - with support from American Jewish World Service.