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...
Hubristic Hydraulics: Water, Dictatorship, and Modernity in the Dominican Republic
Lisa Blackmore is a senior lecturer in art history and interdisciplinary studies at the University of Essex. She is the author of Spectacular Modernity: Dictatorship, Space and Visuality in Venezuela, 1948–1958 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017); co-editor of Downward Spiral: El Helicoide's Descent from Mall to Prison (Terreform, 2018) and
Natura: Environmental Aesthetics After Landscape (Diaphanes, 2018); and co-director of Después de Trujillo (2016).
- Views Icon Views
- Share Icon Share
- Search Site
Lisa Blackmore; Hubristic Hydraulics: Water, Dictatorship, and Modernity in the Dominican Republic. Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture 1 January 2020; 2 (1): 115–125. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/lavc.2020.210010
Download citation file: