The Impact of Transculturation in the Dominican Republic

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Transculturation is the result of different culture mixing together to create one. The word transculturation was first introduced in 1947 by a Cuban anthropologist named Fernando Ortiz. The concept of transculturation is the merging of multiple cultures which results from colonialism. Especially during the post-colonial term, indigenous people find it difficult to reclaim their sense of character. Transculturation usually begins through conflict of a stronger nation taking over another country, by controlling it with its people and abusing it economically. Afterwards, the settlers and the indigenous people will come together to seek peace by acting as intermediates. This then brings out the merging of cultures which includes language, religion, music, cuisine, sports, architecture, art, fashion, festivals, and holidays. Settler insert their values and tradition to the country they invade which then intertwin with another cultural to create the phenomena of transculturation. (Kale, 2010).

Colonialism in Dominican Republic

The history of the Dominican Republic begins with The Taino people who spoke the Arawak language. Most of what is taught when learning about the history of the Dominican Republic is when Christopher Columbus first landed on the island in 1492. Christopher Columbus discovery of the Dominican Republic is only valid if you refuse to acknowledge the existence of the native Taino’s. The Taino were the indigenous people of the Dominican Republic before Europeans arrived and took over. The Dominican Republic culture is made up of a diverse mixture of influence which resulted from the colonization of Spain in 1492 by Christopher Columbus, due to his settlement the Dominican Republic has experience transculturation predominately by Europeans with both Africa and Taino influence. (Canderlario, 2007.)

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After Christopher Columbus arrival, he was welcomed to the land by the Taino people who he called Indians. He said, “They were very well-built, with very handsome bodies and very good faces…they do not carry arms or know them…they should be good servants.” (Columbus, 1492). As generous as the Taino’s were to Christopher Columbus, he’s main intentions were to find new land to extort. As Christopher Columbus colonized the Dominican Republic, his men sexually abused the Taino women which developed in the mestizo children. (Rob, 2016.) As crucial this was for the Taino women, this is how transculturation developed in the Dominican Republic. During the first travel to the Dominican Republic, Christopher Columbus after being received by Taino people who he once called “Peaceful”, the Taino population were almost extinct due to the violence by the European colonist. The Spanish colonizers also brought over diseases which the Taino people had no immunity. (Rob, 2016.) Aside from the European contribution to the Dominican culture, the slave trade had a signification contribution to the culture. The arrival of enslaved Africans plays a big role in the transculturation of Dominican Republic because they carried their culture with them which then mixed with the Taino heritage.

Transculturation in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic was a Spanish colony which was the cause of their many different dishes that are still known today. Countless African, Spanish and Taino attributes are still represented today. In Dominican Republic, one of the most famous breakfast is called “Los Tres Golpes”. It consists of mashed boiled plantains called mangu, which was originally imported from Africa, fried eggs, and fried salami. Mangu origin name is fufu which can be tracked down back to West Africa. Plantains are extremely saturated in the Dominican Republic that people tend to forget they originated from Africa. In addition to African influence, Europeans also had a major contribution in the food that is still highly eaten in the Dominican. Republic. For example, “Arroz Con Leche” or Rice Pudding, is one of the most popular deserts in DR. It consists of cooked rice, milk, sugar and eggs. Another famous Spanish desert is the Flan or Crème Carmel which is French for Carmel cream. The ingredient is sugar, cream cheese, sweetened milk and vanilla extract. As for the Taino side of the culture, Dominican are highly invested in Casabe, which is made out of Yuca.


The architecture in the Dominican Republic can easily be traced back to European colonist. The baroque design which can be seen throughout the main city, Santo Domingo. Santo Domingo is actually one of the first places where a cathedral was built which is now considered a historical place by the UNESCO. It is now a “World Heritage Site” or the “Colonial City” because it was the first Spanish colonial settlement. It currently has special landmarks like, the Catedral de Santa Maria and the Alcazer de Colon. The Alcazer de Colon was a mansion that once belonged to Diego Columbus, who was the son of Christopher Columbus. Today, Alcazer de Colon holds special work of art that was made during the Spanish colonization. It is now a popular tourist site, where people can go and experience the history of the Dominican Republic. The native Taino also had a great influence in the architecture of the country. Their style of living consists of huts made out of mud and trees which blend right in with the nature of the country. Still today, you can find a modern take of this style of home in the Dominican Republic. It is often used in luxury resorts to mimic the country style of living. (EveryCulture, 2019).

Fashion & Festivals

As Christopher Columbus stated, “the people of this island… all go naked, men and women, as their mothers bore them.” (Columbus, 1492). Before Christopher Columbus colonized the country, both men and women wore very little to no clothing. Married women were expected to wear a skirt called nagua, which covered their vaginal area. However, after Christopher Columbus and his men, raped and forced marriage upon the Taino women; the women had to part take in the Spanish culture. They had to participate in the Spanish custom which meant they were covered up in long traditional Spanish dresses. (Mcgrath, 2019.) One of the best-known designers in Dominican Republic was Oscar De la Renta. He was born in the Dominican Republic but later resided in the United States. His style of fashion is originated from Cristobal Balenciaga, who was a Spaniard fashion designer. In Oscar De La Renta designs, he incorporates both Spanish and French style.

Race & Social Class

The social class in Dominican Republic determined by the color of your skin and your economic status. The majority of the upper class have European descent. They are often fair skinned with colored eyes. By large, colored people make up the lower class which comes from the enslaved Africans or Haiti. (Mcgrath, 2019). Unfortunately, colorism and racism does exist in the Dominican Republic. This stems from European’s enslaving Africans and transporting them to the country. This then creates a sense of entitlement in which people believe that light skin people are better than colored people. This is way of thinking is strong in older generation. They strongly believe that they don’t have in black in them, they rather label themselves is Dominican. Ignorantly, they don’t accept the fact that the majority of Dominican’s are from African descent.


The Roman Catholic was taught by Christopher Columbus and Spaniard his men. Almost all of the population strongly believes in the Catholic church. Since young, the children are taught to believe in the Catholic church by enrolling them in Catholic school. They are also taught to say “Sion Tia” to an uncle, which translate to “Bless me, tia.” Afterwards, the adult replies “Que dios te bendiga”, which translates to “May God bless you.” (CountiesAndTheirCultures, 2019).


The music in Dominican Republic is known for the having an upbeat tempo that stems from the African drums. One of the country’s iconic dance is called the Merengue. It is usually danced in family gathering or festivals. It includes an accelerated tempo and various instruments like the piano, accordion, and the guira. (HistoryofDance, 2019). Another form of music is the Palo. It is an Afro-Dominican music that be found in the urban parts of the Dominican Republic. The Palo is usually played in special religious events called “Dia de lo Santos”, translation for “Day of the Saint”. The Palo consist of the sound of beating drums and human shouting. It can be traced down to Africa. Los Palos are usually practiced by the lower class because of hype beat tempo and its wild dances. (ColonialZone, 2019.)


The culture is the Dominican Republic is made up of various culture which includes the native Taino’s, European settlers and enslaved Africans. From the colonization of Spain, it resulted in the Transculturation of the Dominican Republic. The original culture that came from the Taino’s, merged in with the European and African customs. Slowly, it created what is known to be now in the Dominican Republic.

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The impact of Transculturation in the Dominican Republic. (2019, Apr 05). Retrieved from