Black Skin, White Tourists Race, Queerness, and Sex Tourism in Dominican Film "Sand Dollars"

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Anastasia Valecce


Sand Dollars (Dólares de Arena) is a 2014 coproduction by Dominican film director Laura Amelia Guzmán and her husband, Mexican film director Israel Cárdenas. This film portrays two main characters: an older French woman, Anne, who is visiting the island as a tourist, and a young black Dominican woman, Noeli. The plot centers on the sexual and emotional relationship that arises between the two women. In this article, I explore the race and class relationship between the black bodies and the white bodies—taking as a point of departure the lesbian relationship—and the ways in which they are represented on screen. To do so, I enter into dialogue with Franz Fanon’s text, Black Skin, White Masks, offering a queer interpretation of this work, in which female bodies are a largely ancillary focus, and female homosexuality is ignored entirely. As such, this article will use Fanonian theory in order to highlight the intersectional nature of cultural taboos in contemporary Dominican Republic, such as sex tourism, blackness, lesbianism (and queerness
in general), and to explore the way in which the film navigates these topics. 


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Author Biography

Anastasia Valecce, Spelman College

Anastasia Valecce, PhD, is an associate professor of Hispanic studies in the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Spelman College. Her research centers on contemporary Caribbean studies with a special focus on Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. Her work includes film studies, queer and gender studies, visual art, visual culture, literature, performance studies, and pop culture. Her book titled Neorrealismo y cine en Cuba: historia y discurso entorno a la primera polémica de la revolución (1951–1962) [Neorealism and Cinema in Cuba: History and Discourse on the First Polemic of the Revolution (1951–1962)] (Purdue University Press, Forthcoming 2020) retraces the dynamics behind the formation of the revolutionary ideology in Cuban film production. Her latest works include articles on contemporary culture, visual film, and queer productions in Puerto Rico; Dominican cinema; and on film, visual and cultural production, and media and digital studies in contemporary Cuba.