front cover of Avengers of the New World
Avengers of the New World
Laurent Dubois
Harvard University Press, 2004

The first and only successful slave revolution in the Americas began in 1791 when thousands of brutally exploited slaves rose up against their masters on Saint-Domingue, the most profitable colony in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world. Within a few years, the slave insurgents forced the French administrators of the colony to emancipate them, a decision ratified by revolutionary Paris in 1794. This victory was a stunning challenge to the order of master/slave relations throughout the Americas, including the southern United States, reinforcing the most fervent hopes of slaves and the worst fears of masters.

But, peace eluded Saint-Domingue as British and Spanish forces attacked the colony. A charismatic ex-slave named Toussaint Louverture came to France’s aid, raising armies of others like himself and defeating the invaders. Ultimately Napoleon, fearing the enormous political power of Toussaint, sent a massive mission to crush him and subjugate the ex-slaves. After many battles, a decisive victory over the French secured the birth of Haiti and the permanent abolition of slavery from the land. The independence of Haiti reshaped the Atlantic world by leading to the French sale of Louisiana to the United States and the expansion of the Cuban sugar economy.

Laurent Dubois weaves the stories of slaves, free people of African descent, wealthy whites, and French administrators into an unforgettable tale of insurrection, war, heroism, and victory. He establishes the Haitian Revolution as a foundational moment in the history of democracy and human rights.

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The Black Jacobins Reader
Charles Forsdick and Christian Høgsbjerg, editors
Duke University Press, 2017
Containing a wealth of new scholarship and rare primary documents, The Black Jacobins Reader provides a comprehensive analysis of C. L. R. James's classic history of the Haitian Revolution. In addition to considering the book's literary qualities and its role in James's emergence as a writer and thinker, the contributors discuss its production, context, and enduring importance in relation to debates about decolonization, globalization, postcolonialism, and the emergence of neocolonial modernity. The Reader also includes the reflections of activists and novelists on the book's influence and a transcript of James's 1970 interview with Studs Terkel.
 
 
Contributors. Mumia Abu-Jamal, David Austin, Madison Smartt Bell, Anthony Bogues, John H. Bracey Jr., Rachel Douglas, Laurent Dubois, Claudius K. Fergus, Carolyn E. Fick, Charles Forsdick, Dan Georgakas, Robert A. Hill, Christian Høgsbjerg, Selma James, Pierre Naville, Nick Nesbitt, Aldon Lynn Nielsen, Matthew Quest, David M. Rudder, Bill Schwarz, David Scott, Russell Maroon Shoatz, Matthew J. Smith, Studs Terkel
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The Border of Lights Reader
Bearing Witness to Genocide in the Dominican Republic
Megan Jeanette Myers
Amherst College Press, 2021
Border of Lights, a volunteer collective, returns each October to Dominican-Haitian border towns to bear witness to the 1937 Haitian Massacre ordered by Dominican dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. This crime against humanity has never been acknowledged by the Dominican government and no memorial exists for its victims. A multimodal, multi-vocal space for activists, artists, scholars, and others connected to the BOL movement, The Border of Lights Reader provides an alternative to the dominant narrative that positions Dominicans and Haitians as eternal adversaries and ignores cross-border and collaborative histories. This innovative anthology asks large-scale, universal questions regarding historical memory and revisionism that countries around the world grapple with today.

"By bringing together in one volume poetry, visual arts, literary analysis, in-depth interviews and historical analysis this volume will provide its readers with a comprehensive view of the causes and the aftermath of the massacre." —Ramón Antonio Victoriano-Martínez, University of British Columbia

Contributions by Julia Alvarez, Amanda Alcántara, DeAndra Beard, Nancy Betances, Jésula Blanc, Matías Bosch Carcuro, Cynthia Carrión, Raj Chetty, Catherine DeLaura, Magaly Colimon, Juan Colón, Robin Maria DeLugan, Lauren Derby, Rosa Iris Diendomi Álvarez, Polibio Díaz, Rana Dotson, Rita Dove, Rhina P. Espaillat, Maria Cristina Fumagalli, Saudi García, Scherezade García, Juan Carlos González Díaz, Kiran C. Jayaram, Pierre Michel Jean, Nehanda Loiseau Julot, Jake Kheel, Carlos Alomia Kollegger, Jackson Lorrain “Jhonny Rivas”, Radio Marién, Padre Regino Martínez Bretón, Sophie Maríñez, April J. Mayes, Jasminne Mendez, Komedi Mikal PGNE, Osiris Mosquea, Megan Jeanette Myers, Rebecca Osborne, Ana Ozuna, Edward Paulino, John Presimé, Laura Ramos, Amaury Rodríguez, Doña Carmen Rodríguez de Paulino, The DREAM Project, Silvio Torres-Saillant, Ilses Toribio, Deisy Toussaint, Évelyne Trouillot, Richard Turits, William Vazquez, Chiqui Vicioso, Bridget Wooding, and Óscar Zazo.
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The Borders of Dominicanidad
Race, Nation, and Archives of Contradiction
Lorgia García Peña
Duke University Press, 2016
In The Borders of Dominicanidad Lorgia García-Peña explores the ways official narratives and histories have been projected onto racialized Dominican bodies as a means of sustaining the nation's borders. García-Peña constructs a genealogy of dominicanidad that highlights how Afro-Dominicans, ethnic Haitians, and Dominicans living abroad have contested these dominant narratives and their violent, silencing, and exclusionary effects. Centering the role of U.S. imperialism in drawing racial borders between Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the United States, she analyzes musical, visual, artistic, and literary representations of foundational moments in the history of the Dominican Republic: the murder of three girls and their father in 1822; the criminalization of Afro-religious practice during the U.S. occupation between 1916 and 1924; the massacre of more than 20,000 people on the Dominican-Haitian border in 1937; and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. García-Peña also considers the contemporary emergence of a broader Dominican consciousness among artists and intellectuals that offers alternative perspectives to questions of identity as well as the means to make audible the voices of long-silenced Dominicans.
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Borders of Visibility
Haitian Migrant Women and the Dominican Nation-State
by Jennifer L. Shoaff
University of Alabama Press, 2018
An anthropological study of Haitian migrant women’s mobility in the Dominican Republic.

Borders of Visibility offers extremely timely insight into the Dominican Republic’s racist treatment of Haitian descendants within its borders. Jennifer L. Shoaff employs multisited feminist research to focus on the geographies of power that intersect to inform the opportunities and constraints that migrant women must navigate to labor and live within a context that largely denies their human rights, access to citizenship, and a sense of security and belonging.
 
Paradoxically, these women are both hypervisible because of the blackness that they embody and invisible because they are marginalized by intersecting power inequalities. Haitian women must contend with diffuse legal, bureaucratic and discursive state-local practices across “border” sites that situate them as a specific kind of threat that must be contained. Shoaff examines this dialectic of mobility and containment across various sites in the northwest Dominican Republic, including the official border crossing, transborder and regional used-clothing markets, migrant settlements (bateyes), and other rural-urban contexts.
 
Shoaff combines ethnographic interviews, participant observation, institutional analyses of state structures and nongovernmental agencies, and archival documentation to bring this human rights issue to the fore. Although primarily grounded in critical ethnographic practice, this work contributes to the larger fields of transnational feminism, black studies, migration and border studies, political economy, and cultural geography. Borders of Visibility brings much needed attention to Haitian migrant women’s economic ingenuity and entrepreneurial savvy, their ability to survive and thrive, their often impossible choices whether to move or to stay, returning them to a place of visibility, while exposing the very structures that continue to render them invisible and, thus, expendable over time.
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Colonialism and Science
Saint Domingue and the Old Regime
James E. McClellan III
University of Chicago Press, 2010

How was the character of science shaped by the colonial experience? In turn, how might we make sense of how science contributed to colonialism? Saint Domingue (now Haiti) was the world’s richest colony in the eighteenth century and home to an active society of science—one of only three in the world, at that time. In this deeply researched and pathbreaking study of the colony, James E. McClellan III first raised his incisive questions about the relationship between science and society that historians of the colonial experience are still grappling with today. Long considered rare, the book is now back in print in an English-language edition, accompanied by a new foreword by Vertus Saint-Louis, a native of Haiti and a widely-acknowledged expert on colonialism. Frequently cited as the crucial starting point in understanding the Haitian revolution, Colonialism and Science will be welcomed by students and scholars alike.

“By deftly weaving together imperialism and science in the story of French colonialism, [McClellan] . . . brings to light the history of an almost forgotten colony.”—Journal of Modern History

“McClellan has produced an impressive case study offering excellent surveys of Saint Domingue’s colonial history and its history of science.”—Isis

 

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front cover of The Company of Heaven
The Company of Heaven
Stories from Haiti
Marilène Phipps-Kettlewell
University of Iowa Press, 2010

Marilène Phipps-Kettlewell’s award-winning stories transport you to Haiti—to a lush, lyrical, flamboyant, and spirit-filled Haiti where palm trees shine wet with moonlight and the sky paints a yellow screen over your head and the ocean sparkles with thousands of golden eyes—and keep you there forever. Her singular characters mysteriously address the deeper meanings of human existence. They also dream of escape, whether from themselves, from family, from Vodou, from financial and cultural difficulties and the politicians that create them, or from the country itself, but Haiti will forever remain part of their souls and part of the thoughts of her readers.

 Some characters do achieve escape through the mind or through sea voyage—escape found by surrendering to spectacular fantasies and madness and love, bargaining with God, joining the boat people. Marie-Ange Saint-Jacques’s mother sacrifices everything to ensure her daughter’s survival on a perilous boat trip, Angelina waits to fly away to Nou Yòk, Vivi creates her own circus with dozens of rescued dogs, Gustave dies a martyr to his faith. Throughout, the “I” who moves in and out of these dream-filled stories embraces the heavenly mysteries found in “the room where all things lost are stored with grace.”

We begin our journey to Haiti with images of a little girl in a pink bedroom reading by candlelight a book about the life of Saint Bernadette, surrounded by the bewitching scents, sounds, and textures of a Caribbean night. Each story stands by itself, but some characters can be followed from one story to another through the transformations they undergo as a result of their life experiences. In this way, the collection can be read as one story, the story of a family trapped in a personal and cultural drama and the story of the people with whom the family interacts, themselves burdened by the need to survive within Haiti’s rigorously class-determined society and blessed by their relationship to the company of heaven in which they live and for which they are destined.

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front cover of Cruel Destiny and The White Negress
Cruel Destiny and The White Negress
Two Novels by Cléante Desgraves Valcin
Adam Nemmers
Rutgers University Press, 2024
Cléante Desgraves Valcin (1891-1956) was a poet, writer, and feminist—most prominently Haiti’s first published female novelist, who employed her sentimental fiction to explore matters of race, gender, nationalism, and sovereignty. A contemporary of Harlem Renaissance writers such as Nella Larsen and Zora Neale Hurston, Valcin emerged as an influential writer and political figure among the Black Atlantic diaspora.  Now, for the first time, her two acclaimed novels are available in English translation. 
 
Cruel Destiny (1929) tells the tragic love story of Armand and Adeline, drawn together by a magnetic attraction, yet kept apart by a dark family secret. Depicting the heavy expectations placed upon women in Haiti’s elite society, it also explores the troubled and twisted relationships between the Haitians and their former colonial masters, the French. 
 
In The White Negress (1934), a Frenchwoman moves to Haiti and is torn between two very different men, a Black Haitian lawyer, and a white American carpetbagger. Putting a fresh spin on the tired tragic mulatta trope, Valcin reveals the racial prejudices, class tensions, and anti-colonial resentments of an island under American occupation. 
 
Together, these two novels expand our understanding of Caribbean literature, as well as the political struggles and artistic triumphs of Black women in the Americas. 

 
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Cul de Sac
Patrimony, Capitalism, and Slavery in French Saint-Domingue
Paul Cheney
University of Chicago Press, 2017
In the eighteenth century, the Cul de Sac plain in Saint-Domingue, now Haiti, was a vast open-air workhouse of sugar plantations. This microhistory of one plantation owned by the Ferron de la Ferronnayses, a family of Breton nobles, draws on remarkable archival finds to show that despite the wealth such plantations produced, they operated in a context of social, political, and environmental fragility that left them weak and crisis prone.

Focusing on correspondence between the Ferronnayses and their plantation managers, Cul de Sac proposes that the Caribbean plantation system, with its reliance on factory-like production processes and highly integrated markets, was a particularly modern expression of eighteenth-century capitalism. But it rested on a foundation of economic and political traditionalism that stymied growth and adaptation. The result was a system heading toward collapse as planters, facing a series of larger crises in the French empire, vainly attempted to rein in the inherent violence and instability of the slave society they had built. In recovering the lost world of the French Antillean plantation, Cul de Sac ultimately reveals how the capitalism of the plantation complex persisted not as a dynamic source of progress, but from the inertia of a degenerate system headed down an economic and ideological dead end.
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front cover of A Day for the Hunter, a Day for the Prey
A Day for the Hunter, a Day for the Prey
Popular Music and Power in Haiti
Gage Averill
University of Chicago Press, 1997
The history of Haiti throughout the twentieth century has been marked by oppression at the hands of colonial and dictatorial overlords. But set against this "day for the hunter" has been a "day for the prey," a history of resistance, and sometimes of triumph. With keen cultural and historical awareness, Gage Averill shows that Haiti's vibrant and expressive music has been one of the most highly charged instruments in this struggle—one in which power, politics, and resistance are inextricably fused.

Averill explores such diverse genres as Haitian jazz, troubadour traditions, Vodou-jazz, konpa, mini-djaz, new generation, and roots music. He examines the complex interaction of music with power in contexts such as honorific rituals, sponsored street celebrations, Carnival, and social movements that span the political spectrum.

With firsthand accounts by musicians, photos, song texts, and ethnographic descriptions, this book explores the profound manifestations of power and song in the day-to-day efforts of ordinary Haitians to rise above political repression.
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front cover of Dividing Hispaniola
Dividing Hispaniola
The Dominican Republic's Border Campaign against Haiti, 1930-1961
Edward Paulino
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015
The island of Hispaniola is split by a border that divides the Dominican Republic and Haiti. This border has been historically contested and largely porous. Dividing Hispaniola is a study of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo’s scheme, during the mid-twentieth century, to create and reinforce a buffer zone on this border through the establishment of state institutions and an ideological campaign against what was considered an encroaching black, inferior, and bellicose Haitian state. The success of this program relied on convincing Dominicans that regardless of their actual color, whiteness was synonymous with Dominican cultural identity.
Paulino examines the campaign against Haiti as the construct of a fractured urban intellectual minority, bolstered by international politics and U.S. imperialism. This minority included a diverse set of individuals and institutions that employed anti-Haitian rhetoric for their own benefit (i.e., sugar manufacturers and border officials.) Yet, in reality, these same actors had no interest in establishing an impermeable border.
Paulino further demonstrates that Dominican attitudes of admiration and solidarity toward Haitians as well as extensive intermixture around the border region were commonplace. In sum his study argues against the notion that anti-Haitianism was part of a persistent and innate Dominican ethos.
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front cover of Ezili's Mirrors
Ezili's Mirrors
Imagining Black Queer Genders
Omise'eke Natasha Tinsley
Duke University Press, 2018
From the dagger mistress Ezili Je Wouj and the gender-bending mermaid Lasiren to the beautiful femme queen Ezili Freda, the Ezili pantheon of Vodoun spirits represents the divine forces of love, sexuality, prosperity, pleasure, maternity, creativity, and fertility. And just as Ezili appears in different guises and characters, so too does Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley in her voice- and genre-shifting, exploratory book Ezili's Mirrors. Drawing on her background as a literary critic as well as her quest to learn the lessons of her spiritual ancestors, Tinsley theorizes black Atlantic sexuality by tracing how contemporary queer Caribbean and African American writers and performers evoke Ezili. Tinsley shows how Ezili is manifest in the work and personal lives of singers Whitney Houston and Azealia Banks, novelists Nalo Hopkinson and Ana Lara, performers MilDred Gerestant and Sharon Bridgforth, and filmmakers Anne Lescot and Laurence Magloire—none of whom identify as Vodou practitioners. In so doing, Tinsley offers a model of queer black feminist theory that creates new possibilities for decolonizing queer studies.
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front cover of Facing Racial Revolution
Facing Racial Revolution
Eyewitness Accounts of the Haitian Insurrection
Jeremy D. Popkin
University of Chicago Press, 2008
The only truly successful slave uprising in the Atlantic world, the Haitian Revolution gave birth to the first independent black republic of the modern era. Inspired by the revolution that had recently roiled their French rulers, black slaves and people of mixed race alike rose up against their oppressors in a bloody insurrection that led to the burning of the colony’s largest city, a bitter struggle against Napoleon’s troops, and in 1804, the founding of a free nation.

Numerous firsthand narratives of these events survived, but their invaluable insights into the period have long languished in obscurity—until now. In Facing Racial Revolution, Jeremy D. Popkin unearths these documents and presents excerpts from more than a dozen accounts written by white colonists trying to come to grips with a world that had suddenly disintegrated. These dramatic writings give us our most direct portrayal of the actions of the revolutionaries, vividly depicting encounters with the uprising’s leaders—Toussaint Louverture, Boukman, and Jean-Jacques Dessalines—as well as putting faces on many of the anonymous participants in this epochal moment. Popkin’s expert commentary on each selection provides the necessary background about the authors and the incidents they describe, while also addressing the complex question of the witnesses’ reliability and urging the reader to consider the implications of the narrators’ perspectives.

Along with the American and French revolutions, the birth of Haiti helped shape the modern world. The powerful, moving, and sometimes troubling testimonies collected in Facing Racial Revolution significantly expand our understanding of this momentous event.
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Fear of a Black Republic
Haiti and the Birth of Black Internationalism in the United States
Leslie M. Alexander
University of Illinois Press, 2023
The emergence of Haiti as a sovereign Black nation lit a beacon of hope for Black people throughout the African diaspora. Leslie M. Alexander’s study reveals the untold story of how free and enslaved Black people in the United States defended the young Caribbean nation from forces intent on maintaining slavery and white supremacy. Concentrating on Haiti’s place in the history of Black internationalism, Alexander illuminates the ways Haitian independence influenced Black thought and action in the United States. As she shows, Haiti embodied what whites feared most: Black revolution and Black victory. Thus inspired, Black activists in the United States embraced a common identity with Haiti’s people, forging the idea of a united struggle that merged the destinies of Haiti with their own striving for freedom.

A bold exploration of Black internationalism’s origins, Fear of a Black Republic links the Haitian revolution to the global Black pursuit of liberation, justice, and social equality.

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front cover of Framing Silence
Framing Silence
Revolutionary Novels by Haitian Women
Chancy, Myriam J
Rutgers University Press, 1992

Raped and colonized, coerced and silenced--this has been the position of Haitian women within their own society, as well as how they have been seen by foreign occupiers. Romanticized symbols of nationhood, they have served, however unwillingly, as a politicized site of contestation between opposing forces.

In this first book-length study in English devoted exclusively to Haitian women's literature, Myriam Chancy finds that Haitian women have their own history, traditions, and stories to tell, tales that they are unwilling to suppress or subordinate to narratives of national autonomy. Issues of race, class, color, caste, nationality, and sexuality are all central to their fiction--as is an urgent sense of the historical place of women between the two U.S. occupations of the country. Their novels interrogate women's social and political stance in Haiti from an explicitly female point of view, forcefully responding to overt sexual and political violence within the nation's ambivalent political climate. Through daring and sensitive readings, simultaneously historical, fictional and autobiographical, Chancy explores this literature, seeking to uncover answers to the current crisis facing these women today, both within their country and in exile.The writers surveyed include Anne-christine d'Adesky, Ghislaine Rey Charlier, Marie Chauvet, Jan J. Dominique, Nadine Magloire, and Edwidge Danticat, whose work has recently achieved such high acclaim.

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front cover of From Dessalines to Duvalier
From Dessalines to Duvalier
Race, Colour and National Independence in Haiti
Nicholls, David
Rutgers University Press, 1996
In this lively, provocative, and well-documented history, David Nicholls discusses the impact of "color" on the political relationship between the black majority and the mulatto elite during almost two hundred years of Haitian history. The divisive factor impeding harmony in Haitian culture, argues Nicholls, has not been race, but color. Identifying themselves as non-white, blacks and mulattos acknowledge racial unity. But color divisions, reinforced by religious, regional, and class differences, have nonetheless prevented the two groups from achieving poltitical and ideological unity. Nicholls grounds this sophisticated analysis in great historical detail and engaging, witty prose. Students and general readers alike will delight in this insightful and informative history of Haiti.
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front cover of From Dessalines to Duvalier
From Dessalines to Duvalier
Race, Colour and National Independence in Haiti
Nicholls, David
Rutgers University Press, 1996
In this lively, provocative, and well-documented history, David Nicholls discusses the impact of "color" on the political relationship between the black majority and the mulatto elite during almost two hundred years of Haitian history. The divisive factor impeding harmony in Haitian culture, argues Nicholls, has not been race, but color. Identifying themselves as non-white, blacks and mulattos acknowledge racial unity. But color divisions, reinforced by religious, regional, and class differences, have nonetheless prevented the two groups from achieving poltitical and ideological unity. Nicholls grounds this sophisticated analysis in great historical detail and engaging, witty prose. Students and general readers alike will delight in this insightful and informative history of Haiti.
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From Spaniard to Creole
The Archaeology of Cultural Formation at Puerto Real, Haiti
Charles Robin Ewen
University of Alabama Press, 1991

While most studies of intercultural contact focus on the impact of the intrusive power on the native culture, this book examines the effects of the colonization process on the Spaniards in the New World during the 16th century. The site of Puerto Real on the north coast of Haiti serves as a case study. Based on the results of excavations at both Puerto Real and St. Augustine, Florida, this study suggests that the introduction of New World and African cultural elements into Spanish colonial culture began almost at contact. The model of acculturative processes, developed in St. Augustine and tested at Puerto Real, can serve to guide future Spanish colonial research. It can also be applied to non-Hispanic colonial sites in the New World. Did the French and British adapt to their new environments in a manner similar to the Spanish? Work done at Puerto Real demonstrates the utility of archaeology in the study of the effects of culture contact.

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Gender and Violence in Haiti
Women’s Path from Victims to Agents
Benedetta Faedi Duramy
Rutgers University Press, 2014
Women in Haiti are frequent victims of sexual violence and armed assault. Yet an astonishing proportion of these victims also act as perpetrators of violent crime, often as part of armed groups. Award-winning legal scholar Benedetta Faedi Duramy visited Haiti to discover what causes these women to act in such destructive ways and what might be done to stop this tragic cycle of violence.

Gender and Violence in Haiti is the product of more than a year of extensive firsthand observations and interviews with the women who have been caught up in the widespread violence plaguing Haiti. Drawing from the experiences of a diverse group of Haitian women, Faedi Duramy finds that both the victims and perpetrators of violence share a common sense of anger and desperation. Untangling the many factors that cause these women to commit violence, from self-defense to revenge, she identifies concrete measures that can lead them to feel vindicated and protected by their communities.

Faedi Duramy vividly conveys the horrifying conditions pervading Haiti, even before the 2010 earthquake. But Gender and Violence in Haiti also carries a message of hope—and shows what local authorities and international relief agencies can do to help the women of Haiti.
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Georges Woke Up Laughing
Long-Distance Nationalism and the Search for Home
Nina Glick Schiller and Georges Eugene Fouron
Duke University Press, 2001
Combining history, autobiography, and ethnography, Georges Woke Up Laughing provides a portrait of the Haitian experience of migration to the United States that illuminates the phenomenon of long-distance nationalism, the voicelessness of certain citizens, and the impotency of government in an increasingly globalized world. By presenting lively ruminations on his life as a Haitian immigrant, Georges Eugene Fouron—along with Nina Glick Schiller, whose own family history stems from Poland and Russia—captures the daily struggles for survival that bind together those who emigrate and those who stay behind.
According to a long-standing myth, once emigrants leave their homelands—particularly if they emigrate to the United States—they sever old nationalistic ties, assimilate, and happily live the American dream. In fact, many migrants remain intimately and integrally tied to their ancestral homeland, sometimes even after they become legal citizens of another country. In Georges Woke Up Laughing the authors reveal the realities and dilemmas that underlie the efforts of long-distance nationalists to redefine citizenship, race, nationality, and political loyalty. Through discussions of the history and economics that link the United States with countries around the world, Glick Schiller and Fouron highlight the forces that shape emigrants’ experiences of government and citizenship and create a transborder citizenry. Arguing that governments of many countries today have almost no power to implement policies that will assist their citizens, the authors provide insights into the ongoing sociological, anthropological, and political effects of globalization.
Georges Woke up Laughing will entertain and inform those who are concerned about the rights of people and the power of their governments within the globalizing economy.

“In my dream I was young and in Haiti with my friends, laughing, joking, and having a wonderful time. I was walking down the main street of my hometown of Aux Cayes. The sun was shining, the streets were clean, and the port was bustling with ships. At first I was laughing because of the feeling of happiness that stayed with me, even after I woke up. I tried to explain my wonderful dream to my wife, Rolande. Then I laughed again but this time not from joy. I had been dreaming of a Haiti that never was.”—from Georges Woke Up Laughing

[more]

front cover of The Guise of Exceptionalism
The Guise of Exceptionalism
Unmasking the National Narratives of Haiti and the United States
Robert Fatton
Rutgers University Press, 2021
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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Haiti and the Uses of America
Post-U.S. Occupation Promises
Verna, Chantalle F.
Rutgers University Press, 2017
Contrary to popular notions, Haiti-U.S. relations have not only been about Haitian resistance to U.S. domination. In Haiti and the Uses of America, Chantalle F. Verna makes evident that there have been key moments of cooperation that contributed to nation-building in both countries.
 
In the years following the U.S. occupation of Haiti (1915-1934), Haitian politicians and professionals with a cosmopolitan outlook shaped a new era in Haiti-U.S. diplomacy. Their efforts, Verna shows, helped favorable ideas about the United States, once held by a small segment of Haitian society, circulate more widely. In this way, Haitians contributed to and capitalized upon the spread of internationalism in the Americas and the larger world.
 
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Haiti Fights Back
The Life and Legacy of Charlemagne Péralte
Yveline Alexis
Rutgers University Press, 2021
Winner of the 2021 Haitian Studies Association Book Prize​

Haiti Fights Back: The Life and Legacy of Charlemagne Péralte is the first US scholarly examination of the politician and caco leader (guerrilla fighter) who fought against the US military occupation of Haiti. The occupation lasted close to two decades, from 1915-1934. Alexis argues for the importance of documenting resistance while exploring the occupation’s mechanics and its imperialism. She takes us to Haiti, exploring the sites of what she labels as resistance zones, including Péralte’s hometown of Hinche and the nation’s large port areas--Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haïtien. Alexis offers a new reading of U.S. military archival sources that record Haitian protests as banditry. Haiti Fights Back illuminates how Péralte launched a political movement, and meticulously captures how Haitian women and men resisted occupation through silence, military battles, and writings. She locates and assembles rare, multilingual primary sources from traditional repositories, living archives (oral stories), and artistic representations in Haiti and the United States. The interdisciplinary work draws on legislation, cacos’ letters, newspapers, and murals, offering a unique examination of Péralte’s life (1885-1919) and the significance of his legacy through the twenty-first century. Haiti Fights Back offers a new approach to the study of the U.S. invasion of the Americas by chronicling how Caribbean people fought back.
 
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The Haiti Reader
History, Culture, Politics
Laurent Dubois, Kaiama L. Glover, Nadève Ménard, Millery Polyné, and Chantalle F. Verna, editors
Duke University Press, 2020
While Haiti established the second independent nation in the Western Hemisphere and was the first black country to gain independence from European colonizers, its history is not well known in the Anglophone world. The Haiti Reader introduces readers to Haiti's dynamic history and culture from the viewpoint of Haitians from all walks of life. Its dozens of selections—most of which appear here in English for the first time—are representative of Haiti's scholarly, literary, religious, visual, musical, and political cultures, and range from poems, novels, and political tracts to essays, legislation, songs, and folk tales. Spanning the centuries between precontact indigenous Haiti and the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, the Reader covers widely known episodes in Haiti's history, such as the U.S. military occupation and the Duvalier dictatorship, as well as overlooked periods such as the decades immediately following Haiti's “second independence” in 1934. Whether examining issues of political upheaval, the environment, or modernization, The Haiti Reader provides an unparalleled look at Haiti's history, culture, and politics.
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Haitian Revolution 1789-1804
Thomas O. Ott
University of Tennessee Press, 1973
Reviewed in the United States on June 5, 2000
 
As an avid fan of Caribbean history, I claim this book to be one of the best I have ever read. It is a must for anyone interested in the Haitian Revolution on Saint Domingue. Mr. Ott thoroughly covers the revolution from start to finish. His writing style is efficient and to the point. The book analyzes the causes and effects of each stage of the revolution from every possible view point and deals in depth with the leading figures of this event. I highly recommend this book.
[more]

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Harvesting Haiti
Reflections on Unnatural Disasters
Myriam J.A. Chancy
University of Texas Press, 2023

This collection ponders the personal and political implications for Haitians at home and abroad resulting from the devastating 2010 earthquake.

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010 was a debilitating event that followed decades of political, social, and financial issues. Leaving over 250,000 people dead, 300,000 injured, and 1.5 million people homeless, the earthquake has had lasting repercussions on a struggling nation. As the post-earthquake political situation unfolded, Myriam Chancy worked to illuminate on-the-ground concerns, from the vulnerable position of Haitian women to the failures of international aid. Originally presented at invited campus talks, published as columns for a newspaper in Trinidad and Tobago, and circulated in other ways, her essays and creative responses preserve the reactions and urgencies of the years following the disaster.

In Harvesting Haiti, Chancy examines the structures that have resulted in Haiti's post-earthquake conditions and reflects at key points after the earthquake on its effects on vulnerable communities. Her essays make clear the importance of sustaining and supporting the dignity of Haitian lives and of creating a better, contextualized understanding of the issues that mark Haitians’ historical and present realities, from gender parity to the vexed relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

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Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History
Susan Buck-Morss
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009
In this path-breaking work, Susan Buck-Morss draws new connections between history, inequality, social conflict, and human emancipation.  Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History offers a fundamental reinterpretation of Hegel's master-slave dialectic and points to a way forward to free critical theoretical practice from the prison-house of its own debates. 

Historicizing the thought of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and the actions taken in the Haitian Revolution, Buck-Morss examines the startling connections between the two and challenges us to widen the boundaries of our historical imagination. She finds that it is in the discontinuities of historical flow, the edges of human experience, and the unexpected linkages between cultures that the possibility to transcend limits is discovered. It is these flashes of clarity that open the potential for understanding in spite of cultural differences.  What Buck-Morss proposes amounts to a “new humanism,” one that goes beyond the usual ideological implications of such a phrase to embrace a radical neutrality that insists on the permeability of the space between opposing sides and as it reaches for a common humanity. 
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An Historical Account of the Black Empire of Hayti
Marcus Rainsford
Duke University Press, 2013
As the first complete narrative in English of the Haitian Revolution, Marcus Rainsford's An Historical Account of the Black Empire of Hayti was highly influential in establishing nineteenth-century world opinion of this momentous event. This new edition is the first to appear since the original publication in 1805. Rainsford, a career officer in the British army, went to Haiti to recruit black soldiers for the British. By publishing his observations of the prowess of black troops, and recounting his meetings with Toussaint Louverture, Rainsford offered eyewitness testimonial that acknowledged the intelligence and effectiveness of the Haitian rebels. Although not an abolitionist, Rainsford nonetheless was supportive of the independent state of Haiti, which he argued posed no threat to British colonial interests in the West Indies, an extremely unusual stance at the time. Rainsford's account made an immediate impact upon publication; it was widely reviewed, and translated twice in its first year. Paul Youngquist's and Grégory Pierrot's critical introduction to this new edition provides contextual and historical details, as well as new biographical information about Rainsford. Of particular interest is a newly discovered miniature painting of Louverture attributed to Rainsford, which is reproduced along with the twelve engravings that accompanied his original account.
[more]

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Humanitarian Aftershocks in Haiti
Schuller, Mark
Rutgers University Press, 2016
Winner of the 2016 Anthropology in Media Award from the American Anthropological Association 

The 2010 earthquake in Haiti was one of the deadliest disasters in modern history, sparking an international aid response—with pledges and donations of $16 billion—that was exceedingly generous. But now, five years later, that generous aid has clearly failed. In Humanitarian Aftershocks in Haiti, anthropologist Mark Schuller captures the voices of those involved in the earthquake aid response, and they paint a sharp, unflattering view of the humanitarian enterprise.  
 
Schuller led an independent study of eight displaced-persons camps in Haiti, compiling more than 150 interviews ranging from Haitian front-line workers and camp directors to foreign humanitarians and many displaced Haitian people. The result is an insightful account of why the multi-billion-dollar aid response not only did little to help but also did much harm, triggering a range of unintended consequences, rupturing Haitian social and cultural institutions, and actually increasing violence, especially against women. The book shows how Haitian people were removed from any real decision-making, replaced by a top-down, NGO-dominated system of humanitarian aid, led by an army of often young, inexperienced foreign workers. Ignorant of Haitian culture, these aid workers unwittingly enacted policies that triggered a range of negative results. Haitian interviewees also note that the NGOs “planted the flag,” and often tended to “just do something,” always with an eye to the “photo op” (in no small part due to the competition over funding). Worse yet, they blindly supported the eviction of displaced people from the camps, forcing earthquake victims to relocate in vast shantytowns that were hotbeds of violence.
 
Humanitarian Aftershocks in Haiti concludes with suggestions to help improve humanitarian aid in the future, perhaps most notably, that aid workers listen to—and respect the culture of—the victims of catastrophe.
[more]

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The Insistent Call
Rhetorical Moments in Black Anticolonialism, 1929-1937
Aric Putnam
University of Massachusetts Press, 2012
Throughout the nineteenth century, African heritage played an important role in black America, as personal memories and cultural practices continued to shape the everyday experience of people of African descent living under the shadow of slavery. Resisting efforts to de-Africanize their values, customs, and beliefs, black Americans invoked their African roots in public arguments about their identity and place in the "new" world. At the outset of the twentieth century many still saw Africa primarily as the source of a common cultural and spiritual past. But after the 1920s, the meaning of African heritage changed as people of African descent expressed new relationships between themselves, the United States, and the African Diaspora.

In The Insistent Call, Aric Putnam studies the rhetoric of newspapers, literature, and political pamphlets that expressed this shift. He demonstrates that as people of African descent debated the United States' occupation of Haiti, the Liberian labor crisis, and the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, they formed a new collective identity, one that understood the African Diaspora in primarily political rather than cultural terms. In addition to uncovering a neglected period in the history of black rhetoric, Putnam shows how rhetoric that articulates the interests of a population not defined by the boundaries of a state can still motivate collective action and influence policies.
[more]

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Island Possessed
Katherine Dunham
University of Chicago Press, 1994
Just as surely as Haiti is "possessed" by the gods and spirits of vaudun (voodoo), the island "possessed" Katherine Dunham when she first went there in 1936 to study dance and ritual. In this book, Dunham reveals how her anthropological research, her work in dance, and her fascination for the people and cults of Haiti worked their spell, catapulting her into experiences that she was often lucky to survive. Here Dunham tells how the island came to be possessed by the demons of voodoo and other cults imported from various parts of Africa, as well as by the deep class divisions, particularly between blacks and mulattos, and the political hatred still very much in evidence today. Full of the flare and suspense of immersion in a strange and enchanting culture, Island Possessed is also a pioneering work in the anthropology of dance and a fascinating document on Haitian politics and voodoo.
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Islands of Sovereignty
Haitian Migration and the Borders of Empire
Jeffrey S. Kahn
University of Chicago Press, 2018
In Islands of Sovereignty, anthropologist and legal scholar Jeffrey S. Kahn offers a new interpretation of the transformation of US borders during the late twentieth century and its implications for our understanding of the nation-state as a legal and political form. Kahn takes us on a voyage into the immigration tribunals of South Florida, the Coast Guard vessels patrolling the northern Caribbean, and the camps of Guantánamo Bay—once the world’s largest US-operated migrant detention facility—to explore how litigation concerning the fate of Haitian asylum seekers gave birth to a novel paradigm of offshore oceanic migration policing. Combining ethnography—in Haiti, at Guantánamo, and alongside US migration patrols in the Caribbean—with in-depth archival research, Kahn expounds a nuanced theory of liberal empire’s dynamic tensions and its racialized geographies of securitization. An innovative historical anthropology of the modern legal imagination, Islands of Sovereignty forces us to reconsider the significance of the rise of the current US immigration border and its relation to broader shifts in the legal infrastructure of contemporary nation-states across the globe.
 
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Killing with Kindness
Haiti, International Aid, and NGOs
Schuller, Mark
Rutgers University Press, 2012

Winner of the 2015 Margaret Mead Award from the American Anthropological Association and the Society for Applied Anthropology

After Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, over half of U.S. households donated to thousands of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in that country. Yet we continue to hear stories of misery from Haiti. Why have NGOs failed at their mission?

Set in Haiti during the 2004 coup and aftermath and enhanced by research conducted after the 2010 earthquake, Killing with Kindness analyzes the impact of official development aid on recipient NGOs and their relationships with local communities. Written like a detective story, the book offers rich ethnographic comparisons of two Haitian women’s NGOs working in HIV/AIDS prevention, one with public funding (including USAID), the other with private European NGO partners. Mark Schuller looks at participation and autonomy, analyzing donor policies that inhibit these goals. He focuses on NGOs’ roles as intermediaries in “gluing” the contemporary world system together and shows how power works within the aid system as these intermediaries impose interpretations of unclear mandates down the chain—a process Schuller calls “trickle-down imperialism.”

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Making Haiti
Saint Domingue Revolution From Below
Carolyn E. Fick
University of Tennessee Press, 1991

In 1789 the French colony of Saint Domingue was the wealthiest and most flourishing of the Caribbean slave colonies, its economy based on the forced labor of more than half a million black slaves raided from their African homelands.  The revolt of this underclass in 1791—the only successful slave rebellion in history—gained the slaves their freedom and set in motion the colony's struggle for independence as the black republic of Haiti.

In this pioneering study, Carolyn E. Fick argues that the repressed and uneducated slaves were the principal architects both of their own freedom and of the successful movement toward national independence.  Fick identifies "marronage," the act of being a fugitive slave,  as a basic unit of slave resistance from which the revolution grew and shows how autonomous forms of popular slave participation were as important to the success of the rebellion as the leadership of men like Toussaint Louverture, Henri Christophe, and Dessalines. Using contemporary manuscripts and previously untapped archival sources, the author depicts the slaves, their aspirations, and their popular leaders and explains how they organized their rebellion.

Fick places the Saint Domingue rebellion in relation to the larger revolutionary movements of the era, provides background on class and caste prior to the revolution, the workings of the plantation system, the rigors of slave life, and the profound influence of voodoo.  By examining the rebellion and the conditions that led to it from the perspective of the slaves it liberated, she revises the history of Haiti.

Carolyn Fick is currently a Canada Research Fellow at Concordia University in Montreal.

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Making The Black Jacobins
C. L. R. James and the Drama of History
Rachel Douglas
Duke University Press, 2019
C. L. R. James's The Black Jacobins remains one of the great works of the twentieth century and the cornerstone of Haitian revolutionary studies. In Making The Black Jacobins, Rachel Douglas traces the genesis, transformation, and afterlives of James's landmark work across the decades from the 1930s on. Examining the 1938 and 1963 editions of The Black Jacobins, the 1967 play of the same name, and James's 1936 play, Toussaint Louverture—as well as manuscripts, notes, interviews, and other texts—Douglas shows how James continuously rewrote and revised his history of the Haitian Revolution as his politics and engagement with Marxism evolved. She also points to the vital significance theater played in James's work and how it influenced his views of history. Douglas shows The Black Jacobins to be a palimpsest, its successive layers of rewriting renewing its call to new generations.
[more]

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Maroon
Danielle Legros Georges
Northwestern University Press, 2001

Maroon is the debut collection of Haitian-American poet Danielle Legros Georges, who writes of the pain of exile, the beauty of nature, and the delights of love in highly rhythmic, highly original language. The range of her voice is remarkable— from the comic to the tragic to the lyric. Her poetry is electric with an overpowering zest for life and vitality of language, as she examines the traumatic experiences that brought her parents to America and searches for a more complete understanding of self. 

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front cover of MEDICAL REVOLUTIONARIES
MEDICAL REVOLUTIONARIES
The Enslaved Healers of Eighteenth-Century Saint Domingue
Karol K. Weaver
University of Illinois Press, 2006

front cover of Modernity Disavowed
Modernity Disavowed
Haiti and the Cultures of Slavery in the Age of Revolution
Sibylle Fischer
Duke University Press, 2004
Modernity Disavowed is a pathbreaking study of the cultural, political, and philosophical significance of the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804). Revealing how the radical antislavery politics of this seminal event have been suppressed and ignored in historical and cultural records over the past two hundred years, Sibylle Fischer contends that revolutionary antislavery and its subsequent disavowal are central to the formation and understanding of Western modernity. She develops a powerful argument that the denial of revolutionary antislavery eventually became a crucial ingredient in a range of hegemonic thought, including Creole nationalism in the Caribbean and G. W. F. Hegel’s master-slave dialectic.

Fischer draws on history, literary scholarship, political theory, philosophy, and psychoanalytic theory to examine a range of material, including Haitian political and legal documents and nineteenth-century Cuban and Dominican literature and art. She demonstrates that at a time when racial taxonomies were beginning to mutate into scientific racism and racist biology, the Haitian revolutionaries recognized the question of race as political. Yet, as the cultural records of neighboring Cuba and the Dominican Republic show, the story of the Haitian Revolution has been told as one outside politics and beyond human language, as a tale of barbarism and unspeakable violence. From the time of the revolution onward, the story has been confined to the margins of history: to rumors, oral histories, and confidential letters. Fischer maintains that without accounting for revolutionary antislavery and its subsequent disavowal, Western modernity—including its hierarchy of values, depoliticization of social goals having to do with racial differences, and privileging of claims of national sovereignty—cannot be fully understood.

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My Stone of Hope
From Haitian Slave Child to Abolitionist
By Jean-Robert Cadet
University of Texas Press, 2011

There are 27 million slaves living in the world today—more than at any time in history. Three hundred thousand of them are impoverished children in Haiti, who "stay with" families as unpaid and uneducated domestic workers, subject to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. This practice, known locally as restavek ("staying with"), is so widespread that one in ten Haitian children is caught up in this form of slavery.

Jean-Robert Cadet was a restavek in Haiti from the late 1950s until the early 1970s. He told the harrowing story of his youth in Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle-Class American—a landmark book that exposed ongoing child slavery in Haiti. Now in My Stone of Hope, Cadet continues his story from his early attempts to adjust to freedom in American society to his current life mission of eliminating child slavery through advocacy and education. As he recounts his own struggles to surmount the psychological wounds of slavery, Cadet puts a human face on the suffering that hundreds of thousands of Haitians still endure daily. He also builds a convincing case that child slavery is not just one among many problems that Haiti faces as the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation. Rather, he argues that the systematic abuse of so many of its children is Haiti's fundamental problem, because it creates damaged adults who seem incapable of governing the country justly or managing its economy productively.

For everyone concerned about the fate of Haiti, the welfare of children, and the freedom of people around the globe, My Stone of Hope sounds an irresistible call to action.

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Open Gate
An Anthology of Haitian Creole Poetry
Edited by Paul Laraque and Jack Hirschman
Northwestern University Press, 2001
Open Gate is the first bilingual volume of Haitian Creole poetry published in English. Seven years in the making, this anthology is the result of the dedication of its editors and translators, Paul Laraque, Jack Hirschman and the Haitian poet Boadiba, as well as Max Manigat, one of the first teachers of Creole on the university level who was an invaluable advisor.

The editors focus on contemporary Creole poetry that reflects the struggle for human rights in Haiti. The book is divided into three sections: Pioneers of Modern Haitian Creole poetry, beginning with the founder of modern Haitian Creole literature, Felix Morisseu-Leroy (19131998); the flowering of Haitian poetry as represented by the literary movement, "Society of Butterflies," some of whose members were jailed or exiled by the bloody Duvalier dictatorship; and the New Generation featuring primarily those poets in the Diaspora whose work has been published in the last 15 years.

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Prophetic Visions of the Past
Pan-Caribbean Representations of the Haitian Revolution
Víctor Figueroa
The Ohio State University Press, 2015
In Prophetic Visions of the Past: Pan-Caribbean Representations of the Haitian Revolution, Víctor Figueroa examines how the Haitian Revolution has been represented in twentieth-century literary works from across the Caribbean. Building on the scholarship of key thinkers of the Latin American “decolonial turn” such as Enrique Dussel, Aníbal Quijano, Walter Mignolo, and Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Figueroa argues that examining how Haiti’s neighbors tell the story of the Revolution illuminates its role as a fundamental turning point in both the development and radical questioning of the modern/colonial world system.
 
Prophetic Visions of the Past includes chapters on literary texts from a wide array of languages, histories, and perspectives. Figueroa addresses work by Alejo Carpentier (Cuba), C. L. R. James (Trinidad), Luis Palés Matos (Puerto Rico), Aimé Césaire (Martinique), Derek Walcott (Saint Lucia), Edouard Glissant (Martinique), and Manuel Zapata Olivella (Colombia). While underscoring each writer’s unique position, Figueroa also addresses their shared geographical, historical, and sociopolitical preoccupations, which are closely linked to the region’s prolonged experience of colonial interventions. Ultimately, these analyses probe how, for the larger Caribbean region, the Haitian Revolution continues to reflect the tension between inspiring revolutionary hopes and an awareness of ongoing colonial objectification and exploitation.
 
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Queering Black Atlantic Religions
Transcorporeality in Candomblé, Santería, and Vodou
Roberto Strongman
Duke University Press, 2019
In Queering Black Atlantic Religions Roberto Strongman examines Haitian Vodou, Cuban Lucumí/Santería, and Brazilian Candomblé to demonstrate how religious rituals of trance possession allow humans to understand themselves as embodiments of the divine. In these rituals, the commingling of humans and the divine produces gender identities that are independent of biological sex. As opposed to the Cartesian view of the spirit as locked within the body, the body in Afro-diasporic religions is an open receptacle. Showing how trance possession is a primary aspect of almost all Afro-diasporic cultural production, Strongman articulates transcorporeality as a black, trans-Atlantic understanding of the human psyche, soul, and gender as multiple, removable, and external to the body.
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Reproducing Inequities
Poverty and the Politics of Population in Haiti
Maternowska, M. Catherine
Rutgers University Press, 2006

Residents of Haiti-one of the poorest and most unstable countries in the world-face a grim reality of starvation, violence, lack of economic opportunity, and minimal health care. For years, aid organizations have sought to alleviate the problems by creating health and family planning clinics, including one modern (and, by local standards, luxurious) center in the heart of Cit Soleil. During its height of service in the 1980s and 1990s, the clinic boasted nineteen staff members, an array of modern contraceptives, an accessible location, and convenient hours-but very few clients.

Why did this initiative fail so spectacularly despite surveys finding that residents would like to have fewer children? Why don't poor women heed the message of family planning, when smaller families seem to be in their best interest? In Reproducing Inequities, M. Catherine Maternowska argues that we too easily overlook the political dynamics that shape choices about family planning. Through a detailed study of the attempt to provide modern contraception in the community of Cit Soleil, Maternowska demonstrates the complex interplay between local and global politics that so often thwarts well-intended policy initiatives.

Medical anthropologists, she argues, have an important role to play in developing new action plans for better policy implementation. Ethnographic studies in desperate, dangerous locations provide essential data that can point the way to solutions for the dilemmas of contraception in poor communities worldwide.

 

[more]

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Restavec
From Haitian Slave Child to Middle-Class American
An Autobiography by Jean-Robert Cadet
University of Texas Press, 1998

African slaves in Haiti emancipated themselves from French rule in 1804 and created the first independent black republic in the Western Hemisphere. But they reinstituted slavery for the most vulnerable members of Haitian society—the children of the poor—by using them as unpaid servants to the wealthy. These children were—and still are—restavecs, a French term whose literal meaning of "staying with" disguises the unremitting labor, abuse, and denial of education that characterizes the children's lives.

In this memoir, Jean-Robert Cadet recounts the harrowing story of his youth as a restavec, as well as his inspiring climb to middle-class American life. He vividly describes what it was like to be an unwanted illegitimate child "staying with" a well-to-do family whose physical and emotional abuse was sanctioned by Haitian society. He also details his subsequent life in the United States, where, despite American racism, he put himself through college and found success in the Army, in business, and finally in teaching.

[more]

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A Secret among the Blacks
Slave Resistance before the Haitian Revolution
John D. Garrigus
Harvard University Press, 2023

A bold rethinking of the Haitian Revolution reveals the roots of the only successful slave uprising in the modern world.

Unearthing the progenitors of the Haitian Revolution has been a historical project of two hundred years. In A Secret among the Blacks, John D. Garrigus introduces two dozen Black men and women and their communities whose decades of resistance to deadly environmental and political threats preceded and shaped the 1791 revolt.

In the twenty-five miles surrounding the revolt’s first fires, enslaved people of diverse origins lived in a crucible of forces that arose from the French colonial project. When a combination of drought, trade blockade, and deadly anthrax bacteria caused waves of death among the enslaved in the 1750s, poison investigations spiraled across plantations. Planters accused, tortured, and killed enslaved healers, survivors, and community leaders for deaths the French regime had caused. Facing inquisition, exploitation, starvation, and disease, enslaved people devised resistance strategies that they practiced for decades. Enslaved men and women organized labor stoppages and allied with free Blacks to force the French into negotiations. They sought enforcement of freedom promises and legal protection from abuse. Some killed their abusers.

Through remarkable archival discoveries and creative interpretations of the worlds endured by the enslaved, A Secret among the Blacks reveals the range of complex, long-term political visions pursued by enslaved people who organized across plantations located in the seedbed of the Haitian Revolution. When the call to rebellion came, these men and women were prepared to answer.

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The Sexual Politics of Empire
Postcolonial Homophobia in Haiti
Erin L. Durban
University of Illinois Press, 2023
Evangelical Christians and members of the global LGBTQI human rights movement have vied for influence in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake. Each side accuses the other of serving foreign interests. Yet each proposes future foreign interventions on behalf of their respective causes despite the country’s traumatic past with European colonialism and American imperialism. As Erin L. Durban shows, two discourses dominate discussions of intervention. One maintains imperialist notions of a backward Haiti so riddled with cultural deficiencies that foreign supervision is necessary to overcome Haitians’ resistance to progress. The other sees Haiti as a modern but failed state that exists only through its capacity for violence, including homophobia. In the context of these competing claims, Durban explores the creative ways that same-sex desiring and gender creative Haitians contend with anti-LGBTQI violence and ongoing foreign intervention.

Compelling and thought-provoking, The Sexual Politics of Empire examines LGBTQI life in contemporary Haiti against the backdrop of American imperialism and intervention.

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Siblings of Soil
Dominicans and Haitians in the Age of Revolutions
Charlton W. Yingling
University of Texas Press, 2022

2023 Honorable Mention, Isis Duarte Book Prize, Haiti/ Dominican Republic section (LASA)

After revolutionary cooperation between Dominican and Haitian majorities produced independence across Hispaniola, Dominican elites crafted negative myths about this era that contributed to anti-Haitianism.


Despite the island’s long-simmering tensions, Dominicans and Haitians once unified Hispaniola. Based on research from over two dozen archives in multiple countries, Siblings of Soil presents the overlooked history of their shared imperial endings and national beginnings from the 1780s to 1822. Haitian revolutionaries both inspired and aided Dominican antislavery and anti-imperial movements. Ultimately, Santo Domingo's independence from Spain came in 1822 through unification with Haiti, as Dominicans embraced citizenship and emancipation. Their collaboration resulted in one of the most unique and inclusive forms of independence in the Americas.

Elite reactions to this era formed anti-Haitian narratives. Racial ideas permeated the revolution, Vodou, Catholicism, secularism, and even Deism. Some Dominicans reinforced Hispanic and Catholic traditions and cast Haitians as violent heretics who had invaded Dominican society, undermining the innovative, multicultural state. Two centuries later, distortions of their shared past of kinship have enabled generations of anti-Haitian policies, assumptions of irreconcilable differences, and human rights abuses.

[more]

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Silencing the Guns in Haiti
The Promise of Deliberative Democracy
Irwin P. Stotzky
University of Chicago Press, 1997
Silencing the Guns in Haiti traces Haiti's halting and uncertain quest for democracy from the perspective of someone who played a leading part in every stage of that process.

"A provocative study of the prospects for the rule of law in Haiti."—Marilyn Bowden, Miami Today

"[Stotzky] deepens insights into the contradictory obstacles to democratic governance in Haiti."—Library Journal

"Controversial and stimulating."—Choice

"Lucid and informative. . . . Stotzky gives readers a good foundation for understanding the pressures facing the impoverished but determined Caribbean island."—Islands

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The Slaves Who Defeated Napoleon
Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian War of Independence, 1801-1804
Philippe R. Girard
University of Alabama Press, 2011
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To a contemporary audience, Haiti brings to mind Voodoo spells, Tontons Macoutes, and boat people--nothing worth fighting over. Two centuries ago, however, Haiti, then known as Saint-Domingue, was the “Pearl of the Antilles,” France's most valuable overseas colony, the largest exporter of tropical products in the world, and the United States' second most important trading partner after England.
 
Haiti was also the place where in 1801-1802 Napoléon Bonaparte sent the largest colonial venture of his reign: the Leclerc expedition. His goal was to remove the famous revolutionary Toussaint Louverture from office and, possibly, restore slavery. But within two years, the remnants of Bonaparte’s once-proud army were evacuated in defeated, and Haiti declared its independence. This forgotten yet momentous conflict, in which lives were consumed by the thousands, is this book’s main focus.

In this ambitious monograph, Philippe Girard employs the latest tools of the historian’s craft, multi-archival research in particular, and applies them to the climactic yet poorly understood last years of the Haitian Revolution. Haiti lost most of its archives to neglect and theft, but a substantial number of documents survive in French, U.S., British, and Spanish collections, both public and private. In all, The Slaves Who Defeated Napoleon relies on contemporary military, commercial, and administrative sources drawn from nineteen archives and research libraries on both sides of the Atlantic.
 
Due to its extensive archival basis, the book corrects the many factual inaccuracies that have plagued previous accounts. It also offers a more rounded view of the Haitian Revolution, going beyond mere military minutia to include the activities of U.S. merchants; the in-fighting within the French government; the diplomacy between both the French and revolutionaries with the United States, England, and Spain; and the lives of the maroons, women, and children caught up in the revolutionary struggle. This multidimensional work tells not only of barefoot black soldiers ambushing Bonaparte’s columns, but also of Rochambeau’s mixed-race mistresses, French child drummers, Jewish bankers in Kingston, weapon smugglers from Quaker Philadelphia, Polish artillerists, and African-born maroons struggling to preserve their freedom against both white and black opponents.
 
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Equally groundbreaking is the book’s willingness to move beyond tidy ideological and racial categories to depict an Atlantic society at the crossroads of African and European influences, where Haitian rebels fought France while embracing its ideals. In the process, the reader is introduced to the extraordinary lives of multifaceted characters such as Wladyslaw Jablonowski, the son of a Polish woman and a black father who died fighting for France and white supremacy.

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The Spirits and the Law
Vodou and Power in Haiti
Kate Ramsey
University of Chicago Press, 2011

Vodou has often served as a scapegoat for Haiti’s problems, from political upheavals to natural disasters. This tradition of scapegoating stretches back to the nation’s founding and forms part of a contest over the legitimacy of the religion, both beyond and within Haiti’s borders. The Spirits and the Law examines that vexed history, asking why, from 1835 to 1987, Haiti banned many popular ritual practices.

To find out, Kate Ramsey begins with the Haitian Revolution and its aftermath. Fearful of an independent black nation inspiring similar revolts, the United States, France, and the rest of Europe ostracized Haiti. Successive Haitian governments, seeking to counter the image of Haiti as primitive as well as contain popular organization and leadership, outlawed “spells” and, later, “superstitious practices.” While not often strictly enforced, these laws were at times the basis for attacks on Vodou by the Haitian state, the Catholic Church, and occupying U.S. forces. Beyond such offensives, Ramsey argues that in prohibiting practices considered essential for maintaining relations with the spirits, anti-Vodou laws reinforced the political marginalization, social stigmatization, and economic exploitation of the Haitian majority. At the same time, she examines the ways communities across Haiti evaded, subverted, redirected, and shaped enforcement of the laws. Analyzing the long genealogy of anti-Vodou rhetoric, Ramsey thoroughly dissects claims that the religion has impeded Haiti’s development.

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Three Ancient Colonies
Caribbean Themes and Variations
Sidney W. Mintz
Harvard University Press, 2010

As a young anthropologist, Sidney Mintz undertook fieldwork in Jamaica, Haiti, and Puerto Rico. Fifty years later, the eminent scholar of the Caribbean returns to those experiences to meditate on the societies and on the island people who befriended him. These reflections illuminate continuities and differences between these cultures, but even more they exemplify the power of people to reveal their own history.

Mintz seeks to conjoin his knowledge of the history of Jamaica, Haiti, and Puerto Rico—a dynamic past born of a confluence of peoples of a sort that has happened only a few times in human history—with the ways that he heard people speak about themselves and their lives. Mintz argues that in Jamaica and Haiti, creolization represented a tremendous creative act by enslaved peoples: that creolization was not a passive mixing of cultures, but an effort to create new hybrid institutions and cultural meanings to replace those that had been demolished by enslavement. Globalization is not the new phenomenon we take it to be.

This book is both a summation of Mintz's groundbreaking work in the region and a reminder of how anthropology allows people to explore the deep truths that history may leave unexamined.

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Toussaint Louverture
The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History; A Play in Three Acts
C. L. R. James Edited and Introduced by Christian Høgsbjerg
Duke University Press, 2013
In 1934 C. L. R. James, the widely known Trinidadian intellectual, writer, and political activist, wrote the play Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History, which was presumed lost until the rediscovery of a draft copy in 2005. The play's production, performed in 1936 at London's Westminster Theatre with a cast including the American star Paul Robeson, marked the first time black professional actors starred on the British stage in a play written by a black playwright. This edition includes the program, photographs, and reviews from that production, a contextual introduction and editorial notes on the play by Christian Høgsbjerg, and selected essays and letters by James and others. In Toussaint Louverture, James demonstrates the full tragedy and heroism of Louverture by showing how the Haitian revolutionary leader is caught in a dramatic conflict arising from the contradiction between the barbaric realities of New World slavery and the modern ideals of the Enlightenment. In his portrayal of the Haitian Revolution, James aspired to vindicate black accomplishments in the face of racism and to support the struggle for self-government in his native Caribbean. Toussaint Louverture is an indispensable companion work to The Black Jacobins (1938), James's classic account of Haiti's revolutionary struggle for liberation.
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The United States Occupation of Haiti, 1915-1934
Schmidt, Hans
Rutgers University Press, 1995
"A good history of a sordid intervention that submitted a people to autocratic rule and did little for economic development." —The New York Times
"From Schmidt we get the full details . . . of the brutal racist practices inflicted on the Haitians for nearly all of the nineteen-year American presence in the country." —American Historical Review
"The only thoroughgoing study of one of the more discreditable American interventions overseas." —Journal of Interdisciplinary History
"Should become the standard work on the subject. . . .required reading for specialists in Caribbean studies and U.S.-Latin American relations." —Choice
"A valuable addition to Latin American and U.S. historiography." —Library Journal
"Schmidt sees American racism, bondholders cultures, the technocratic side of Progressivism, and the National City Bank looting of Haiti as the factors motivating Wilson's 1915 invasion....As a detailed case study in an exceptional manifestation of U. S. imperial control the book will attract a readership beyond students of Caribbean history." —Kirkus
"An important and well-documented account....an interesting case study in twentieth-century imperialism. Schmidt sees the occupation of Haiti as part of a general tendency in American foreign policy...Schmidt analyses in detail the mechanics of the invasion, and discusses the actions, attitudes, and policies of the  U.S. administration....A model of academic elegance." —Caribbean Studies
"All the more convincing because the author has used previously inaccessible archive materials." —Journal of American History
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Urban Dwellings, Haitian Citizenships
Housing, Memory, and Daily Life in Haiti
Vincent Joos
Rutgers University Press, 2022
Urban Dwellings, Haitian Citizenships explores the failed international reconstruction of Port-au-Prince after the devastating 2010 earthquake. It describes the failures of international aid in Haiti while it analyzes examples of Haitian-based reconstruction and economic practices. By interrogating the relationship between indigenous uses of the cityscape and the urbanization of the countryside within a framework that centers on the violence of urban planning, the book shows that the forms of economic development promoted by international agencies institutionalize impermanence and instability. Conversely, it shows how everyday Haitians use and transform the city to create spaces of belonging and forms of citizenship anchored in a long history of resistance to extractive economies. Taking readers into the remnants of failed industrial projects in Haitian provinces and into the streets, rubble, and homes of Port-au-Prince, this book reflects on the possibilities and meanings of dwelling in post-disaster urban landscapes.
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Vodou Nation
Haitian Art Music and Cultural Nationalism
Michael Largey
University of Chicago Press, 2006
While the Haitian musical tradition is probably best known for the Vodou-inspired roots music that helped topple the two-generation Duvalier dictatorship, the nation’s troubled history of civil unrest and its tangled relationship with the United States is more intensely experienced through its art music, which combines French and German elements of classical music with Haiti's indigenous folk music. Vodou Nation examines art music by Haitian and African American composers who were inspired by Haiti’s history as a nation created by slave revolt. 

Around the time of the United States’s occupation of Haiti in 1915, African American composers began to incorporate Vodou-inspired musical idioms to showcase black artistry and protest white oppression. Together with Haitian musicians, these composers helped create what Michael Largey calls the “Vodou Nation,” an ideal vision of Haiti that championed its African-based culture as a bulwark against America’s imperialism. Highlighting the contributions of many Haitian and African American composers who wrote music that brought rhythms and melodies of the Vodou ceremony to local and international audiences, Vodou Nation sheds light on a black cosmopolitan musical tradition that was deeply rooted in Haitian culture and politics.
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We Dream Together
Dominican Independence, Haiti, and the Fight for Caribbean Freedom
Anne Eller
Duke University Press, 2016
In We Dream Together Anne Eller breaks with dominant narratives of conflict between the Dominican Republic and Haiti by tracing the complicated history of Dominican emancipation and independence between 1822 and 1865. Eller moves beyond the small body of writing by Dominican elites that often narrates Dominican nationhood to craft inclusive, popular histories of identity, community, and freedom, summoning sources that range from trial records and consul reports to poetry and song. Rethinking Dominican relationships with their communities, the national project, and the greater Caribbean, Eller shows how popular anticolonial resistance was anchored in a rich and complex political culture. Haitians and Dominicans fostered a common commitment to Caribbean freedom, the abolition of slavery, and popular democracy, often well beyond the reach of the state. By showing how the island's political roots are deeply entwined, and by contextualizing this history within the wider Atlantic world, Eller demonstrates the centrality of Dominican anticolonial struggles for understanding independence and emancipation throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. 
 
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Zora Neale Hurston, Haiti, and Their Eyes Were Watching God
La Vinia Delois Jennings
Northwestern University Press, 2013

Zora Neale Hurston wrote her most famous novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, while in Haiti on a trip funded by a Guggenheim fellowship to research the region’s transatlantic folk and religious culture; this work grounded what would become her ethnography Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica. The essays in Zora Neale Hurston, Haiti, and “Their Eyes Were Watching God” persuasively demonstrate that Hurston’s study of Haitian Voudoun informed the characterization, plotting, symbolism, and theme of her novel. Much in the way that Voudoun and its North American derivative Voodoo are syncretic religions, Hurston’s fiction enacts a syncretic, performative practice of reference, freely drawing upon Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian, and Haitian Voudoun mythologies for its political, aesthetic, and philosophical underpinnings. Zora Neale Hurston, Haiti, and “Their Eyes Were Watching God” connects Hurston’s work more firmly to the cultural and religious flows of the African diaspora and to the literary practice by twentieth-century American writers of subscripting in their fictional texts symbols and beliefs drawn from West and Central African religions.

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