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Hubristic Hydraulics: Water, Dictatorship, and Modernity in the Dominican Republic

Blackmore, Lisa (2020) 'Hubristic Hydraulics: Water, Dictatorship, and Modernity in the Dominican Republic.' Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture, 2 (1). pp. 115-125. ISSN 2576-0947

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In this article, I focus on how water operated as symbolic capital during the notoriously repressive dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo (1930–61) in the Dominican Republic. Under his regime, alongside an apex of territorial control and modern aesthetics came a nadir of political freedoms. During Trujillo's tenure, water took on important symbolic and material dimensions as a conduit for authoritarianism: it served as a tool to bind together dictatorial power and spatial order through a mode of territorial and urban design rooted in hubristic hydraulics. With hubristic hydraulics I refer to the strategic ways that water flow was harnessed through infrastructure and choreographed through landscape and monumental architecture to embody and lionize the dictator's power. Channeled into reflecting pools, nationwide irrigation works, and monumental fountains, water functioned at the juncture of aesthetics and politics as an important tool in the modernization of urban space and the territory at large. Water was a strategic resource that enabled Trujillo to be cast as the “arquitecto de la patria nueva” (the architect of a new fatherland), and the ways it was made to flow through modern architecture and infrastructure offer an illuminating means to expose the entanglement of territorial control, urban modernity, and authoritarian politics.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Water; Dominican Republic; Architecture; natural disaster; dictatorship; modernity; Hydraulics; Urban Modernity; Infrastructure; Liquid Ecology
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities
Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2020 13:46
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 13:57

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