cover of book

The Guise of Exceptionalism: Unmasking the National Narratives of Haiti and the United States
by Robert Fatton
Rutgers University Press, 2021
Cloth: 978-1-9788-2132-3 | eISBN: 978-1-9788-2134-7 | Paper: 978-1-9788-2131-6

The Guise of Exceptionalism compares the historical origins of Haitian and American exceptionalisms. It also traces how exceptionalism as a narrative of uniqueness has shaped relations between the two countries from their early days of independence through the contemporary period. Exceptionalism is at the core of every national founding narrative. It allows countries to purge history of injurious stains, and embellish it with mythical innocence and claims of distinction. Exceptionalism also builds the bonds of solidarity that forge an imagined national fellowship of the chosen, but it excludes those deemed unfit for membership because of their race, ethnicity, gender, or class. Exceptionalism, however, is not frozen. As a social invention, it changes over time, but always within the parameters of its original principles. Our capacity to reinvent it is dependent on the degree of hegemony achieved by the ruling class, and if this class has the infrastructural power to gradually co-opt and include  the groups it had once excluded.
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