Legal Identity, Race and Belonging in the Dominican Republic

Legal Identity, Race and Belonging in the Dominican Republic

From Citizen to Foreigner

By Eve Hayes de Kalaf
Foreword by Junot Díaz

Anthem Series in Citizenship and National Identities

This book provides a cautionary tale regarding legal identity practices as promulgated by the World Bank, UN and Inter-American Development Bank. It warns that policies encouraging the en masse registration of native-born migrant-descended populations can also force the thorny question of nationality, unsettling long-established identities and entitlements. 

Hardback, 146 Pages


November 2021

£80.00, $125.00

  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents
  • Links
  • Podcasts

About This Book

Over the next decade, states will be carrying out large-scale registrations in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which aim to provide more than one billion people around the world with evidentiary proof of their legal and, increasingly, digital existence. 'Legal Identity, Race and Belonging: From Citizen to Foreigner' is an important book which identifies a connection between the role of international actors, such as the World Bank and the United Nations, in promulgating the universal provision of legal identity and links these with arbitrary measures to restrict access to citizenship paperwork from (largely) Haitian-descended people born and living in the Dominican Republic. The book provides the definitive analysis of the events leading up to the controversial 2013 Constitutional Tribunal ruling that rendered the Dominican plaintiff Juliana Deguis Pierre stateless. Hayes de Kalaf illustrates how measures that purposely blocked people of Haitian ancestry from accessing their legal identity not only affected undocumented and stateless populations – persons living at the fringes of citizenship – but also had a major impact on documented people; Dominicans already in possession of a state-issued birth certificate, national identity card and/or passport. The book illustrates the complex and contradictory ways in which digital identity systems are experienced, thus challenging the assumption within current development policy that the provision of ID to everyone, everywhere will lead to the inclusion of all citizens.


Pre-launch event; YouTube video link, UCL Institute of the Americas

How some countries are using digital ID to exclude vulnerable people around the world, The Conversation

Book launch event; YouTube video link, Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS)

Digital identity, rights and citizenship in Latin America and the Caribbean: who are we including and who is being left behind? Latin American Diaries

Jessica Pandian interviews Dr Eve Hayes de Kalaf for the Latin America Bureau

"Tracking the rise of identity systems technologies and their inevitable abuses, Dr Hayes de Kalaf unsettles the standard binary of migrant/citizen and by focusing on the case of the Dominican Republic, uncovers a growing threat to our planetary commonwealth. Brilliant and urgent, this is a book that belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in questions of national belonging - which is more or less everyone.” — Junot Díaz is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, a MacArthur Fellow and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US.

“In this important book, Eve Hayes de Kalaf explores the murky discrepancies between citizenship and legal identity in a powerful interrogation of contemporary forms of statecraft that strip minoritized citizens of their legal status and render them stateless in the only country they have ever known. Focused on the predicament of native-born citizens of the Dominican Republic who have been branded as ‘Haitians’ and ‘illegal immigrants,’ this book is a study with profound worldwide ramifications and crucial lessons for the study of citizenship, statelessness, and identity.” — Nicholas De Genova, University of Houston, US

“An innovative look at the politics of legal citizenship in the Dominican Republic. Hayes de Kalaf's deft analysis shows how ‘soft’ strategies of legal exclusion by the Dominican state have come to replace the ‘hard,’ problematic repression of the past.” — Ernesto Sagás, Colorado State University, US

“Dr. Hayes de Kalaf brilliantly exposes the exclusionary, discriminatory and racist practices taking place in the Dominican Republic, highlighting the struggles citizens born in the country are now facing as they battle with the state to acquire essential paperwork and obtain access to welfare, education and health services.” — Gibrán Cruz-Martínez, Institute of Public Goods and Policies, CSIC, Spain

Legal Identity, Race and Belonging in the Dominican Republic makes a compelling argument for considering the experiences of Haitian-descended populations within the broader context of global efforts to address under registration.[…] This book offers an analytic perspective that underscores the urgent need for international policy solutions that protect all people. - New West Indian Guide

Author Information

Eve Hayes de Kalaf is a research fellow at the Institute of Historical Research, the UK's national centre for history, based at the School of Advanced Study, University of London.


Anthem Series in Citizenship and National Identities

Table of Contents

List of Figures; Preface; Acknowledgements; List of Abbreviations; 1. ID: An Underappreciated Revolution; 2. Permanently Foreign: Haitian- Descended Populations in the Dominican Republic; 3. Including the ‘Excluded’: International Organisations and the Administrative (Re)Ordering of Dominicans; 4. Citizens Made Foreign: The Battle for a Dominican Legal Identity; 5. Dominican or Not Dominican? Citizens and Their Experiences of Legal Identity Measures; 6. Towards a Digital Era: Closing the Global Identity Gap; Glossary of Dominican Terms and Phrases; Bibliography; List of Stakeholder Interviews; Index.


Talking Legal Identity, Race and Belonging with Dr Eve Hayes de Kalaf, Women in Identity

Nèg Mawon Podcast with Patrick Jean-Baptiste

Between the Lines Podcast, Institute of Development Studies

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