Professor Nelson Santana launches a new exhibition documenting Transnational Dominican Activism in the 21st Century

Prof. Nelson Santana blog post
Professor Nelson Santana standing in front of the exhibition “Transnational Dominican Activism” at Bronx Community College Library.

A new exhibit in Bronx Community College (BCC) showcases the transnational activism by the Dominican population in the cities of New York, Santo Domingo, and Santiago between 2009 and 2020. Titled “Transnational Dominican Activism: Documenting Grassroots Social Movements through ESENDOM,” the exhibit opened on October 27th, 2022 at Bronx Community College Library second floor.

The exhibition opening featured a panel discussion with BCC Dean of Academic Affairs Luis Montenegro, Professor Emma Antobam-Ntekudzi, Professor Nelson Santana, Chief Librarian Michael Miller, and ESENDOM’s personnel Emmanuel Espinal and John Carrero.

A recording of the panel can be viewed by clicking here.

“Transnational Dominican Activism” features the work of ESENDOM’s team of collaborators, including Amaury Rodríguez, John Carrero, Lorena Espinoza Peña, Emmanuel Espinal, and Nelson Santana. ESENDOM is a digital cultural platform founded by Emmanuel Espinal and Nelson Santana “that interweaves what we love about Dominican culture with current and past social issues that affect the Dominican community today.” This bilingual platform has documented many aspects of Dominicans and their communities through articles, interviews, oral histories, photographs, and videos. In addition, the team provides commentary on the political landscape and popular culture as it relates to the Dominican transnational community.

Transnational Dominican Activism is curated by Professor Nelson Santana, a former assistant librarian and archivist at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute (2007-2014). He is now Deputy Chief, Assistant Professor and collection development librarian at Bronx Community College of The City University of New York (CUNY) where he leads the library’s efforts in all aspects of acquisitions and collection development.

Learn more by exploring the accompanying digital exhibition.

We invite you to check out this exhibition and recommend it to students, researchers, professors, and the public concerned about government corruption, police brutality, violence toward women, anti-abortion legislation, and many other social causes as it manifests in resistance over time.

The exhibition is currently on display through 2023* at Bronx Community College Library.

For more information, connect with Professor Santana at or on Twitter at @elprofe_santana

Jhensen Ortiz, Librarian

Thank you to Dr. Alsace for her recent book donation

Book Donation with Dr. Tamara Alsace Oct 21st
Dr. Tamara Alsace with the three publications she donated to the library.

Dr. Tamara Alsace generously donated the following rare and out of print publications to our CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Library when visiting City College this Fall semester:

Patín Maceo, Manuel A. Dominicanismos. Ciudad Trujillo, R.D.: Librería Dominicana, 1947.

Valera Benítez, Rafael. ¡Complot Develado! Ciudad Trujillo, R.D.: Editora Hándicap, 1960.

Alsace Pacheco, Juan Arturo. Arturo Logroño un orador de América: selección de anécdotas personales, discursos conferencias y páginas selecta. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, s.n. 1987.


We want to thank Dr. Alsace for her thoughtful donation and we look forward to sharing these sources with our library users.

Jhensen Ortiz, Librarian

Digitizing and Documenting the African American Presence in Samaná, Dominican Republic

‘We Choose Freedom’: Documenting African American Presence in the Dominican Republic is a digital archives that recovers, preserves and makes available treasured records of the past. It contains a collection of rare and delicate archival documents pertaining to African Americans that arrived in 1824 from different ports along the Eastern United States to Samaná, Dominican Republic. The documents include books of baptisms, marriage certificates, as well as notes of church meetings, collective decisions and other random papers from Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal and St. Peter's Evangelical Churches in Samaná that document the lives of this Afro diasporic community ranging from 1909-1970.

For decades, it was believed that the majority of these materials had been permanently lost after a fire in 1946 that devastated the town of Samaná destroying all of the buildings in the community except for the former African Methodist Episcopal Church. Fortunately, many of the documents were found in a suitcase in the home of the pastor many years after.

Original Documents from St. Peter’s Evangelical Church. July 20, 2019.

The CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Library and ISER Caribe received a Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM) Award for Institutional Collaborative Initiatives that provided initial funding for digitization of the documents that were in precarious conditions for the lack of care. After digitizing the documents, the originals were rehoused in archival boxes using archival sleeve covers and acid free file folders for preservation purposes. Additional financial support was provided by the CUNY Center for the Humanities.

After the digitization of the documents, the City College Digital Scholarship Services staff created a JSTOR Forum collection enhancing the metadata in order for the materials to be widely discoverable and accessible to scholars, researchers and community members. This collection provides families with a glimpse into the lives of their close ancestors to learn and understand the history and life of residents in Samaná. It is also part of a larger virtual repository that will allow these stories to be shared in observance and celebration of the upcoming 200-year anniversary in 2024 of the community’s migration to freedom.

A screenshot of JSTOR Forum digital project

This collaborative digitization project brought together the following team: CUNY Dominican Studies Institute: Chief Librarian and Professor Sarah Aponte, Librarian Jhensen Ortiz, Research Associate Sophia Monegro; ISER Caribe and LaGuardia Community College: Associate Professor of Anthropology Dr. Ryan Mann-Hamilton and CUNY Research Scholars Program Edyel Alarcon and Akiana Smith; City College Digital Scholarship Services: Associate Professor and Digital Scholarship Librarian Dr. Ching-Jung Chen, Digital Collections Librarian Hiroko Suda, and Digital Scholarship Manager Dr. Scott Koski.

By Prof. Sarah Aponte and Librarian Jhensen Ortiz

Dr. Wilfredo Alvarez donates latest publication to CUNY DSI Library

We would like to thank Wilfredo Alvarez, Associate Professor of Communication Arts at Utica University for donating his recent publication to the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Library. Prof. Alvarez gladly signed and dedicated this copy to the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute and we are grateful for the support!

Wilfredo Alvarez_part 2
Note from Prof. Wilfredo Alvarez

Alvarez, Wilfredo. Everyday Dirty Work: Invisibility, Communication, and Immigrant Labor. Durham, Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2022.

Wilfredo Alvarez_part 1

According to the publisher, this book traces the forms of communication of Latin American immigrant janitors from their marginalized perspective within a predominantly White academic institution. Furthermore, the book analyzes how custodial workers perceive, interpret, and thematize periodic messages regarding race, ethnicity, social class, immigrant status, and occupation, and how those messages and overall communicative experiences affect their work and personal lives.

To read more about this publication please click here.

Everyday Dirty Work is an essential resource for scholars, students and readers who are interested in immigrant lived experiences as well as intercultural and organizational communications, migration workers, and social structures. 

Jhensen Ortiz, Librarian

Nuevo reportaje sobre las manifestaciones contra la Junta Central Electoral y elecciones municipales del 2020 en la República Dominicana.

Nuestro agradecimiento al periodista Julio Pérez por donar la segunda edición de su reportaje a nuestra biblioteca.

Periodista Julio Pérez en las instalaciones del Instituto de Estudios Dominicanos de CUNY (CUNY-DSI), 2 de agosto de 2022

Pérez, Julio. ¿Hasta dónde se extendieron las protestas? Santo Domingo: Revoltiao, 2022.

¿Hasta dónde se extendieron las protestas? es un reportaje sobre la movilización de la juventud dominicana en contra del arrebato a la democracia producto de la suspensión de las elecciones municipales dominicanas, en febrero de 2020, con una recopilación de las localidades en las que la manifestación fue replicada por los civiles y la diáspora.
Este reportaje resalta la organización y conexiones que se generaron a través de las redes sociales y de la gran participación de dominicanos en las protestas desde sus inicios al nivel local y internacional.

Este nuevo reportaje está disponible para descargar gratis para investigadores y el público interesado en leer sobre el tema. Favor pulsar aquí.

Jhensen Ortiz, Bibliotecario

Renowned Ethnomusicologist and Jazz Musician Dr. Paul Austerlitz generously donates to our library!

Professor and Chief Librarian Sarah Aponte, Dr. Paul Austerlitz, and Librarian Jhensen Ortiz receiving the donation on June 13, 2022.

The CUNY Dominican Studies Institute (CUNY DSI) Library is always happy to announce donations from patrons, professors, institutions, and colleagues who have supported our work over the years. To kick off the Fall semester, we are excited to share and thank our colleague Dr. Paul Austerlitz for donating part of his extensive collection of Dominican popular and folkloric music recordings of CDs, vinyl records, and audiocassettes to our library over the summer. Additionally, Dr. Austerlitz donated many rare and out-of-print books from his library that will help expand our collection in Dominican music literature and scholarship.

Moreover, in the last several weeks, we have begun sorting and organizing many items from this incredible donation. As a result, we’ve come across all sorts of unique materials in the collection, including a dedicated note and signature from legendary Dominican musician Félix del Rosario to Dr. Paul Austerlitz dated February 2, 1985:

Dr. Paul Austerlitz holding Félix Del Rosario’s first self-titled LP released in 1964.


Dedicated and signed by Félix Del Rosario to Dr. Paul Austerlitz.

This record will be a great addition to the library’s vinyl collection, as this is something we’ve been working on building over the last few years.

Dr. Paul Austerlitz Dominican Musicians Fieldwork Recordings, 1985-1996*

His donation also contains over 40 audiocassettes interviews conducted by Austerlitz while writing his dissertation/book: Merengue: Dominican Music and Dominican Identity. The collection is significant because among those interviewed are prominent musicians and artists, such as Joseíto Mateo, Tavito Vásquez, and Milly Quezada, and Dominican record executives, such as José Luis Santos, founder and owner of José Luis Records in the Dominican Republic. They recorded many popular recording artists like Fefita la Grande, Luis Segura, El Cieguito de Nagua, and Teodoro Reyes, to name a few.

A snapshot of the many audiocassette interviews with renowned Dominican artists donated to the library.

Lastly, Dr. Austerlitz served as a humanities advisor from 2017-2020 for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) sponsored interactive website A History of Dominican Music in the United States and contributed significant work to the Institute as a visiting research scholar at CUNY DSI.

We are grateful to Dr. Austerlitz for such a sizable donation, as this will benefit researchers, scholars, students, and the public for years to come.

Jhensen Ortiz, Librarian

Visual artist Sofia Torres Prida donates her book “Sueños y Gloria: los Titanes del Béisbol en la República Dominicana” to the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Library

Sofia Torres Prida signing the book for the library on May 23, 2022

The CUNY Dominican Studies Institute (CUNY DSI) Library is pleased to acknowledge the donation of the book Sueños y Gloria by Sofia Torres Prida.

Cover of Sueños y gloria: los titanes del béisbol de la República Dominicana. Santo Domingo, República Dominicana: Grupo Sociedad Industrial Dominicana, 2021.

This coffee table book portrays the soul and personality of some of the most accomplished Dominican baseball players who have left a mark on the sport's history. The book is a photographic compilation of anecdotes featuring players such as Osvaldo Virgil, Felipe Alou, Juan Marichal, Pedro Martínez, and David Ortiz.

Sofia focuses on these great Dominican ball players' intimate lives and family values, allowing us to see an aspect of their personal lives we rarely get to appreciate in the world of professional baseball. Furthermore, the book provides many breathtaking shots of these athletes in unexplored spaces and moments that shape the meaning of this project. Torres Prida shares in this visual story the realities of baseball fame, strong work ethic, challenges overcoming poverty, and love for the game of her protagonists.

Sueños y Gloria is a highly recommended resource for researchers, students, scholars, and the general public interested in Dominican baseball players.

We are grateful to Sofia, who generously donated a copy of her publication to be included in CUNY DSI Library's collection.

Jhensen Ortiz, Librarian

Through the lens: groana melendez’s West 176 street

Groana Melendez pt. 1
melendez, groana. West 176 Street. Brooklyn, NY: Matarile Ediciones, 2021.

The CUNY Dominican Studies Institute (CUNY DSI) Library is pleased to acknowledge the donation of the photo book West 176 Street by groana melendez. The book was donated by Martha Naranjo Sandoval who manages the small press Matarile Ediciones based in Brooklyn, N.Y. and Mexico City.

West 176 Street is the first title in a series that shows artists who are immigrants or children of immigrants in the diaspora. groana explores the space she and her relatives inhabit through a range of photographs in a three-bedroom apartment in Washington Heights that capture their everyday lives and memorable moments in time. More importantly, the pictures permit the viewer to see the pages as part of a family photo album and herself as the subject, which presents the construction and negotiation of memory in many ways. The personal photographs function as a repository of memory that allows for the unraveling and examination of sequences of links between the individual contents, contexts, and meanings of the photographs themselves and broader aspects of shared, social, political, and national identity.

Groana Melendez pt. 2
melendez, groana. West 176 Street. Brooklyn, NY: Matarile Ediciones, 2021.

groana’s own words provide meaningful context about the publication by Matarile Ediciones:

“My parents emigrated from the Dominican Republic to the United States in the 70s. In the 90s they moved to Washington Heights, a neighborhood in upper Manhattan also known as “Little DR.” They created a home in a three-bedroom apartment in a fifth-floor walk-up on West 176th Street in 1995. It was an upgrade from their previous one-bedroom two blocks away. Now as they try to move into a home with an elevator, dishwasher, and seemingly better amenities for older adults, they are facing the challenges of letting go of belongings that do not fit into a smaller space and saying goodbye to their apartment on West 176th St. This is a look back at a family staple—the first stop for relatives emigrating from the Dominican Republic—and how it’s changed over time.”

The CUNY DSI Library is delighted to add this photo book to its artist book collection and is grateful for the generosity of the donor. The photo book will now be available to users for viewing and study for generations to come. We have additional work from her 2016 solo thesis exhibition, El Nombre Mío, Ajeno, which can be found in our online library catalog.

About the artist:

groana melendez is a Dominican lens-based artist whose work explores hybrid identities through self-representation. She was raised between New York City and Santo Domingo. She holds an MFA in Advanced Photographic Studies from the International Center of Photography-Bard Program. groana has participated in group exhibitions in Guadalupe, the Leslie Lohman Museum for Gay and Lesbian Art, and currently at El Museo del Barrio. She had solo shows at the New York Public Library, CUNY, and ICP-Bard’s studio in Queens. She works and lives in the Bronx in New York City. In 2015, she was a summer intern at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute contributing to various research projects during her time with us.

For more on groana and her lens-based works. You can visit her website here and follow her on Instagram @groana.

Jhensen Ortiz, Librarian


Rare Dominican Stamp Collection donated to the CUNY DSI Library

DSA member Ethan Srebnick with the stamp collection he donated to the CUNY DSI Library.

On March 2022, the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute Library received a unique stamp collection from Ethan Srebnick, a City College student and the Public Relations & Marketing Chair of the Dominican Students Association (DSA) on campus. Ethan participated in an educational workshop conducted by CUNY DSI’ Chief Librarian Prof. Sarah Aponte, and Librarian Jhensen Ortiz for the Dominican Students Association. He presented the rich stamp collection after the seminar concluded.

Prof. Sarah Aponte viewing the stamp collection along with Ethan and other DSA members.

Ethan’s father shared a Fort Independence Neighborhood Association listing placed by an old couple giving away a stamp collection that had postages from around the world. Ethan was compelled to take this collection because a while ago, his great grandmother had shared with him her collection of stamps. Ethan generously donated the section with the stamps from the Dominican Republic to the Dominican Library helping us to continue our vital work to preserve and educate visitors on Dominican history and culture.

The New Word Wide Postage Stamp Album originally published by Minkus Publications in 1953.

About the Dominican Stamp Collection

The impressive stamp collection is representative of the Trujillo Dictatorship (1930-1961) in the Dominican Republic, including symbols and images of Dominican cultural history such as flags, famous monuments, coats of arms, key national figures, natural landmarks, and government institutions, to name a few. The collection is characterized by significant elements of Dominican state iconography and Trujillo’s cult personality that demonstrates the propaganda value of postage stamps. In addition, these stamps can serve as an excellent primary source for the symbolic messages that overtly or subtly promote nationalism that governments seek to convey to their citizens and the world.

A handful of the postage stamps donated from the Dominican Republic during the Trujillo Dictatorship. (Double click on the image to get a closer look)

The CUNY DSI Library is very fortunate to have our first stamp collection highlighting the historical and cultural value of the Dominican Republic during the oppressive Trujillo regime. Thanks again to Ethan Srebnick for donating this series of stamps to us. We look forward to sharing them with our patrons.

Jhensen Ortiz, Librarian

Alum/Author spotlight: Alejandro Heredia’s You’re The Only Friend I Need

Alejandros Book
Heredia, Alejandro. You’re The Only Friend I Need. Los Angeles, C.A.: Gold Line Press, 2021

We wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate and share our thoughts on queer Afro-Dominican writer and community organizer Alejandro Heredia’s debut collection of short stories You’re The Only Friend I Need, as well as briefly acknowledge his time with us at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute. Alejandro worked as a research associate for three years helping us advance and develop several long-term projects at the Institute. One of those projects involved the forgotten early twentieth century Dominican writer Mercedes Mota and her experiences in the United States denouncing U.S. imperialism. Moreover, he was featured in a Manhattan Times article when CUNY launched the first “Dominican Studies Master’s Program” in 2017 where he expressed the importance of the program for a new generation of students.

Alejandro at CUNY DSI 2015
Alejandro Heredia pictured here at Institute amongst CUNY DSI junior scholars and research fellows in the summer of 2015.

At the end of 2021, Alejandro participated in CUNY DSI’s two-day international virtual conference The Struggle for Freedom in La Español: Commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the First Slave Revolt in the Americas on the panel titled “Crafting Resistance: Artistic Renderings of the Dominican Imaginary” where he discussed revising Dominican origins and literary imagination.

Heredia’s debut short story collection You’re The Only Friend I Need illustrates how the complexity and nuance of friendship shapes the transnational lives of the Dominican diaspora by centering Blackness and Queerness. Throughout the four stories, Heredia explores Dominican migration and identity through an intimate, authentic, fierce, and compassionate lens that reveals the joy and unapologetic nature of his characters in a decidedly cruel world.

This story short collection was published in May of 2021, but we couldn’t help sharing this amazing read with our visitors. We highly recommend this book for professors, librarians, students, and the general public looking to read and uplift Afro-Dominican diasporic voices and Black LGBTQIA experiences.

Personal thoughts:

Librarian Ortiz: I was absolutely floored by the flow of beautiful words and use of Dominican dialect in this collection, and the incredible Black Queer characters that refused to be limited by their circumstances and never gave up searching for themselves through their friendships. The final story “1999” left me wanting more and needing to know what was going to happen next and whether everything would work out for the main character. 

Prof. Aponte: Alejandro has a way of describing intimacies with respect and grace… by reading his work; we get a glimpse into a world that exists in a very palpable way.

If you’d like to read and follow Alejandro’s work you can find him on Twitter and Instagram.

Jhensen Ortiz, Librarian

Prof. Sarah Aponte, Chief Librarian and Associate Professor