Why the cocks trade: what a transnational art market can reveal about cross-border relations

In the streets of Santo Domingo, Haitian and Dominican paintings are sold side-by-side, usually by Haitian dealers attracted to their neighbour’s much larger tourist market. They are easy to tell apart, for the Haitian paintings generally conform to the naïf style, whereas the Dominican paintings feature rural scenes or Taïno designs. The cultural differences in the designs of the paintings, and their appeal to foreign tourists rather than Dominicans, lend support to decades of scholarship describing Dominican–Haitian relations as being built upon nationalism and notions of racial difference, as well as the ‘exotic’ appeal that the Caribbean holds for tourists. However, this scholarship falls short of providing a holistic account of Dominican–Haitian relations because it sidelines the crucially important role of trade – historically and contemporaneously – in structuring them. In this article, I reinterpret the history and contemporary nature of art markets in Hispaniola to argue that market relations should be considered alongside symbolic representations when assessing transnational identity politics.

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Haitian Handicraft Value Chain Analysis

Haiti is known throughout the Caribbean, Americas and Europe for the quality and creativity of its handicrafts, especially metalwork. The capacity of the handicrafts industry to turn that advantage into a larger and growing market share is constrained by a number of factors. The objective of this assessment is to better understand the constraints and opportunities of the handicrafts industry in Haiti, and to present the findings to key stakeholders in the industry in order to develop a competitiveness strategy focused on greater efficiency, increased differentiation (including quality improvements) and accessing new markets.

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