In 2003 the Dominican Calendar was published. The calendar was a result of the collaboration between the Dominican American National Roundtable (DANR) and the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute (CUNY DSI). The idea then was to highlight and celebrate remarkable people of Dominican descent and to exalt the extraordinary effort of ordinary Dominicans as they have moved forward, built, and transformed spaces into areas that were distinctively identified with symbols representing the Dominican cultural and historical legacy. The calendar, financed by a donation, proved to be a successful project particularly among young students who took it as a brief history book of the achievements of their parents. Adults too took great pride, viewing the landmarks as concrete expressions of their labor and vision in their communities.
Now, ten years later, CUNY DSI inaugurates Dominican Landmarks, an online initiative that builds on the Dominican Calendar and provides information on a variety of markers that document the presence and actions of people of Dominican descent in the United Sates. The new rendition, without a doubt, provides also a point of view, a particular narrative of what exactly Dominicans perceive as worthy of their attention as well as what they value and how they value it. The events and sites included here mark trajectories and reveal actions taken with the clear intention to preserve a memory and celebrate a cultural legacy. These markers represent turning points; they have become traditions; occasions repeated from place to place and preserved physically, orally, or in the abstract; they are transmitted and passed on from parents to children, from one Dominican to another, and from Dominicans to others.
Dominican Landmarks is available to the public on the internet, via an interactive map. Each landmark is identified with a particular icon. Clicking on an icon will trigger a pop-up window, which contains brief information about the particular landmark selected. In addition to the pop-up window the map also features various search functionalities. These features allow visitors to:
(a) Utilize a drop down list to display landmarks in a particular country;
(b) Use a keyword text search, which displays landmark points where the keyword matches text found in a landmark's description;
(c) Enter an address and search for landmarks within a certain mile radius;
(d) Show or hide landmark types by checking or un-checking boxes on the search menu.
Visitors to the map/site are encouraged to review existing landmark information and contribute additional information via a web user form (a link to the form is available in the top right-hand corner of the site). The idea is that users will expand the present rendition by contributing to this project and adding information about Dominican landmarks that exist in other places, whether in the U.S. or in other parts of the world where Dominicans happen to reside.
We also encourage visitors to use this map as an educational tool, aimed at engaging students through interactive features, and fostering discussion on the Dominican cultural legacy across the globe.
The present rendition includes a total of 68 landmarks distributed across the U.S. Eight of these landmarks are found within other landmarks (i.e., a bust in a park) and one was placed arbitrarily at the center of the Manhattan, in New York City (Ay Ombe Theater) because it is itinerant and it does not have a specific location.
Methodology and Criteria:
Defining a Dominican landmark:
parks, streets, schools, memorials, statues, cultural parades, carnivals, celebrations and religious processions, among others. Though a few of the landmarks included fall in the category of community-based organization, we decided to include them because such organizations were the first to provide services targeting the Dominican people or because their names have historical or cultural meaning for Dominicans.
The Dominican Landmark initiative also emphasizes a participatory approach to the production of knowledge about the Dominican people by creating a project which provides the opportunity for others to contribute.
Following the tradition of CUNY DSI of training the young in the art of conducting pioneering research about the Dominican people, the lead researchers for this project were Melody Robert-Matos, a 3rd year International Studies student at the City College of New York and William Rodriguez, a high school senior from Commack High School that interned at CUNY DSI during the summer of 2013. Both Melody and William did detective work to find Dominican landmarks for which we had very scanty information and had learned through word-of-mouth or from a brief mentioning in some writings. They became excited as they moved forward and transmitted their fascination to the rest of the research team. The rest of the team was composed by Associate Researcher Sarah Marrara who developed the map and the icons to represent the landmarks (using Google Fusion Tables and Derek Eder's Searchable Map Template); Prof. Sarah Aponte, Chief Librarian of CUNY DSI Library, who developed the bibliography; and Dr. Ramona Hernandez, who developed the methodology that guided the research. The research team met weekly and other young researchers who were interning at CUNY DSI during the summer of 2013 also contributed with ideas and suggested areas to investigate.
Contribute to the Dominican Landmarks initiative:
If you know about a landmark that represents the Dominican people and has not yet been included in this project, please share this information with us and become an active writer of Dominican history. If you are interested in contributing, please complete the Dominican Landmark submissions form. Once received, your submission will undergo a 6 week review process by the CUNY DSI research team and if approved, the landmark will be included on the map under your authorship.
About CUNY DSI:
The City University of New York Dominican Studies Institute (CUNY DSI) was founded in 1992 and formally approved by the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York in 1994. The City College of New York is the home of CUNY DSI. CUNY DSI is the nation's first university-based research institute devoted to the study of people of Dominican descent in the United States and other parts of the world. Its mission is to produce and disseminate research and scholarly knowledge about people who trace their ancestry to the Dominican Republic. CUNY DSI is the hub for a community of mature and in the-making scholars that includes from high school students to doctoral fellows and seasoned researchers working in the field of Dominican Studies.
To learn more about the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute please contact us.