Haiti and the Americas

Haiti and the Americas

Carla Calargé
Raphael Dalleo
Luis Duno-Gottberg
Clevis Headley
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Haiti and the Americas
    Book Description:

    Haiti has long played an important role in global perception of the western hemisphere, but ideas about Haiti often appear paradoxical. Is it a land of tyranny and oppression or a beacon of freedom as site of the world's only successful slave revolution? A bastion of devilish practices or a devoutly religious island? Does its status as the second independent nation in the hemisphere give it special lessons to teach about postcolonialism, or is its main lesson one of failure?

    Haiti and the Americasbrings together an interdisciplinary group of essays to examine the influence of Haiti throughout the hemisphere, to contextualize the ways that Haiti has been represented over time, and to look at Haiti's own cultural expressions in order to think about alternative ways of imagining its culture and history.Thinking about Haiti requires breaking through a thick layer of stereotypes. Haiti is often represented as the region's nadir of poverty, of political dysfunction, and of savagery. Contemporary media coverage fits very easily into the narrative of Haiti as a dependent nation, unable to govern or even fend for itself, a site of lawlessness that is in need of more powerful neighbors to take control. Essayists inHaiti and the Americaspresent a fuller picture developing approaches that can account for the complexity of Haitian history and culture.

    eISBN: 978-1-62103-933-4
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-22)
    Raphael Dalleo

    Ever since Columbus established his first settlement in the New World in the area near present-day Cap Haitien in 1492, Haiti has been a crossroads of the Americas. A crossroads is not only a geographic location but a place where past, present, and future intersect.Haiti and the Americasopens up the colonial and postcolonial archive to explore the implications of Haiti’s status as crossroads while advancing a new archive of the counterdiscourses that Haiti’s positioning has enabled. Recent scholarship has begun to reconstruct the centrality of Haiti to the New World experience, showing how Haiti has existed and been...


    • 1 Bolívar in Haiti: Republicanism in the Revolutionary Atlantic
      (pp. 25-53)
      Sibylle Fischer

      1816, Republic of Haiti.After the collapse of the First Republic in Venezuela in 1812 and the brutal reprisals that followed, Spanish American patriots had been arriving daily, by the boatload, in Haiti. Many had first sought refuge on the nearby islands of Curaçao, Trinidad, and St. Thomas, but eventually most of the refugees ended up in the coastal towns of Jacmel, Jérémie, and Les Cayes in southern Haiti. In 1815 the fall of Cartagena set off another wave of refugees, with over six hundred Granadans taking to the sea. Under attack from royalist forces and ill equipped for the...

    • 2 Between Anti-Haitianism and Anti-Imperialism: Haitian and Cuban Political Collaborations in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
      (pp. 54-74)
      Matthew Casey

      On June 23, 1930, the Port-au-Prince newspaperLe Paysbegan publishing a serial about the life of Antonio Maceo (1845–96), the slave-turned-military-hero who led Cuban separatists in battle against Spain during the second half of the nineteenth century.¹ The Cuban general was one of “the great figures” not only in the “history . . . of the peoples of Latin America” but also in the history of Haiti. AsLe Paysnoted, he had “interested himself much in our fate” and deserved “to be a little less ignored by us” (“Antonio Maceo”). A few years later, Enselmo Diaz del...


    • 3 Haiti, Pan-Africanism, and Black Atlantic Resistance Writing
      (pp. 77-95)
      Jeff Karem

      Following the Spanish-American War, many Caribbean writers developed intensive plans for resisting U.S. hegemony and preserving cultural and political autonomy, with Haitian authors leading the vanguard. Anténor Firmin and Benito Sylvain, in particular, established a critical discourse that examined both the local threat of U.S. dominion and the global implications of expanding Euro-American power. Firmin’s and Sylvain’s responses to expanding U.S. power advanced the development of both Pan-American and Pan-African ideologies and established a foundation for the intellectual work of subsequent generations of Caribbean and U.S. authors alike. The history of Haitian contributions to anti-imperialist resistance discourse during this period...

    • 4 “Being a Member of the Colored Race”: The Mission of Charles Young, Military Attaché to Haiti, 1904–1907
      (pp. 96-108)
      David P. Kilroy

      Rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel by the time of his forced retirement from the U.S. Army in 1917, Charles Young served much of his career in uniform as the only black commissioned officer in the American military. As such he posed a persistent dilemma for both the military command structure and the political authorities in Washington, who shared a commitment to preserving segregation in the army. There were occasions, however, when Young’s race was seen as an asset by senior officers and politicians alike. Young spent a combined total of nine years serving as U.S. military attaché in...


    • 5 Haiti’s Revisionary Haunting of Charles Chesnutt’s “Careful” History in Paul Marchand, F.M.C
      (pp. 111-132)
      Bethany Aery Clerico

      In 1921, African American writer Charles Chesnutt was concerned about the U.S. occupation of Haiti. The press was reporting an increase in violence between Haitian Caco insurgents and U.S. Marines; the soldiers, ostensibly on a stabilizing mission, were accused of massacring the resistance fighters daily. Chesnutt had kept a close watch on the events since 1920, and he eventually began drafting letters to lawmakers that called for the removal of troops.¹ He argued that the U.S. administration’s “possession” of Haiti was “without right” and urged the administration, if it was in fact interested in “orderly government,” to turn its attention...

    • 6 The Black Magic Island: The Artistic Journeys of Alexander King and Aaron Douglas from and to Haiti
      (pp. 133-160)
      Lindsay Twa

      “Blood-maddened, sex-maddened, god-maddened . . . danced their dark saturnalia” (fig. 1). Readers familiar with Haiti and its representation in U.S. culture will recognize this drawing by Alexander King from William Seabrook’s 1929 best-selling pseudo-anthropological travelogue on Haiti,The Magic Island. We scholars of Haiti love to hate Seabrook’s book and King’s accompanying drawings, decrying how they are emblematic of European- and American-centric representations of Haiti at their most exoticizing, titillating, and racist extreme. Beyond the requisite excoriating remarks, however, few scholars have actually attempted a contextual artistic analysis of King’s images.¹ This is perhaps because to engage with them...

    • 7 Foreign Impulses in Annie Desroy’s Le Joug
      (pp. 161-176)
      Nadève Ménard

      The Caribbean has long been recognized as a point of contact between several peoples. Over the years, this contact has taken various forms, ranging from violent conquest to peaceful cohabitation. The American occupation of Haiti, from 1915 to 1934, brought about brutal contact between two groups who had little previous experience with each other, Haitians and Americans. Many Haitian novels of the period reflect the societal turmoil caused by the occupation. The six novels that most directly represent the culture shocks of the time—Fernand Hibbert’sLes Simulacres(1923), Léon Laleau’sLe Choc(1932), Stéphen Alexis’sLe Nègre Masqué(1933),...


    • 8 The Rhetoric of Crisis and Foreclosing the Future of Haiti in Ghosts of Cité Soleil
      (pp. 179-198)
      Christopher Garland

      Asger Leth’s documentary filmGhosts of Cité Soleil(2006) follows the lives of two gang leaders in the largest slum in Haiti during the months leading up to the fall of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s government in 2004.¹ Two centuries after the revolutionary leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared independence for the former French slave colony—creating what Hardt and Negri call a “specter [that] circulated throughout the Americas in the early nineteenth century just as the specter of the October Revolution haunted European Capitalism over a century later” (123)—Aristide, a former Catholic priest who became the country’s first democratically elected leader...

    • 9 A Marshall Plan for a Haiti at Peace: To Continue or End the Legacy of the Revolution
      (pp. 199-218)
      Myriam J. A. Chancy

      In the weeks following the grand earthquake of January 12, 2010, what some Haitians have termed “goudou, goudou” to describe the shattering seismic shifts taking place beneath the earth’s surface that resulted in the devastation of Haiti’s capital and neighboring cities and villages in its southwest from Léogane to Jacmel, calls to reconstruct Haiti through an equally massive “Marshall Plan” were invoked by a variety of voices including political commentators and economists such as William Blum and Paul Collier, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, large NGOs such as World Vision, and the activist physician Paul Farmer. Of...

  9. AFTERWORD: Neither France nor Senegal: Bovarysme and Haiti’s Hemispheric Identity
    (pp. 219-230)
    J. Michael Dash

    If the Haitian writer, diplomat, and politician Léon Laleau is remembered today, it is for his short poem “Betrayal,” which first appeared in 1931. The poem too might well have been forgotten had Léopold Senghor not included it in hisAnthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre et malgache(1948), almost certainly because of the poem’s last lines, which explicitly evoke the agony of cultural alienation in rhyming couplets.

    Do you feel this suffering

    And this unequalled despair

    In taming with words from France

    This heart that has come to me from Senegal?

    The poem captures perhaps a little too neatly...

  10. Contributors
    (pp. 231-234)
  11. Index
    (pp. 235-242)