Rutgers University Department of Latino Hispanic Caribbean Studies The History of Haiti Scope and aim of the course



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Rutgers University

Department of Latino Hispanic Caribbean Studies
The History of Haiti
Scope and aim of the course:

This course will explore the history, society and politics of Haiti from the colonial period through the present day. We will begin by delving into Taino Ayiti and its early contact with and subsequent conquest by explorers and colonists commissioned by the Spanish Crown. Next, we will explore the evolution of Saint Domingue from its pirate birth in the early 17th century (as French Buccaneers laid siege to this Spanish-claimed territory) to its gradual transformation into the economic engine of France's Atlantic empire. Given the global significance of this latter transformation, we will focus a good deal of attention on the rise of the plantation state. We will then conclude the first part of the course with a detailed exploration of the Haitian Revolution and its profound impact in the Atlantic World. In the second half of the class, we will focus on issues such as the isolation of Haiti (in the aftermath of its radical gestation) and the trials of establishing nationhood throughout the long nineteenth century. Finally, we will explore ever-expanding U.S. influence, the Duvalier regimes, and antihaitianismo and sugar politics of the Dominican Republic as they weigh on the future of Haiti.

While historical in focus, we will approach the study of Haitian history and (present-day) politics and society in a decidedly metadisciplinary manner. Such an interdisciplinary practice will require of us to critically engage historical, anthropological, as well as fictional texts (in print, pictorial, and cinematic format).
Course requirements:


  • 8 1pg-analysis papers of reading (25%)

    • Short (1 page) reading response papers will be due for any nine classes of your choosing, due by noontime the day of class, posted to the course’s Sakai site. The response papers should provide reasonable summaries of the work considered (please be exceedingly careful to cite references and use your own words) as well as your own brief analysis of the authors’ arguments. In your analysis, consider:

    • What historical questions/problems do the texts address?

    • What is the author’s argument? How does it fit in with other authors we are reading on similar topics, or in the broader historiography of Haitian/Caribbean history?

    • What kinds of sources does the author use to establish his/her arguments? What is the significance of using these types of sources? What methodological strengths and weaknesses might be implicit in using them? Which other sorts of texts might have helped the authors construct their argument?

    • What new research questions arise from the existing body of literature?

  • Midterm There will be a midterm. There will be identifications – for which the student is to identify not just the basic facts of the term presented but also its broader significance to themes of the course

  • Two essays. (20%)

  • Final paper (30%)

  • Class Participation and Discussion (25%)

    • Please note attendance will be taken daily. Your class participation based on familiarity and engagement with the readings is essential to the success of the course. In addition to the response papers, students should come prepared with several questions for class discussion, which will be reviewed at the beginning of class.

Learning Goals:

  • Students will come to understand the history of Haiti since the Haitian Revolution.

  • Students will become familiar with the role of foreign powers in the formation of Haiti as a Republic during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

  • Students will learn about the formation of the Haitian peasantry and the socio-economic development of the country’s population

  • Students will learn how the development of Haitian politics and state have led to authoritarian governments and foreign interventions

Texts recommended for purchase:

Dubois, Laurent. Avengers of the New World. Cambridge: Belknap, 2005. [0674018265]

Garrigus, John. Before Haiti: Race and Citizenship in French Saint-Domingue. Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. [9780230108370]

Danticat, Edwidge. The Farming of the Bones. New York: Penguin, 1999. [9780140280494]



Week 1– Introduction and Taíno Ayiti

Week 2-Columbus, Conquest and Empires in the Atlantic World

Selection from J.H. Elliott, Empires of the Atlantic World: A History, 1400-1888.

Pauline Moffit Watts. “Prophecy and Discovery: On the Spiritual Origins of CC’s ‘Enterprise of the Indies.’” The American Historical Review 90:1 (Feb 1985), 73-102, 74.

Anthony Pagden, “Lords of All the Worlds: Ideologies of Empire in Spain, Britain and France, c. 1500-1850.” New Haven: Yale U. Press, 1995, pp. XX. (Unavailable)

Pauline Moffit Watts. “Prophecy and Discovery: On the Spiritual Origins of CC’s ‘Enterprise of the Indies.’” The American Historical Review 90:1 (Feb 1985), 73-102, 74.

James Pritchard. “The French West Indies During the Nine Years' War, 1688­-1697: A Review and Reappraisal.” French Colonial History, Volume 2 (2002), pp. 45-59



Week 3-The Birth of St. Domingue

Introduction and “Development of Creole Society.” In John Garrigus, Before Haiti: Race and Citizenship in French Saint-Domingue. Boston: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006, 1-50.


Sue Peabody, “A Dangerous Zeal: Catholic Missionaries to Slaves in the French Antillies, 1635-1800,” French Historical Studies (Winter 2002): 53-90.

Further reading:


Kadish, Doris and Massardier-Kennedy, François. Translating Slavery: Gender and Race in French Women’s Writing, 1783-1823. Kent State University Press, 1994.

P.J. Laborie The Coffee Planter of St. Domingo (1798; Available on Google Books)

Peabody, Sue. There Are No Slaves in France. New York: Oxford, 2002.
Week 4-Slavery and Development
“Freedom, Slavery, and the French Colonial State” and “Citizenship and Racism in the New Public Sphere.” In Garrigus, Before Haiti, 2006, 83-108 and 141-170.
“Slavery, Forced Labor and the Plantation System: Introduction” and “Slavery in the Afro-American World,” in Sidney Mintz Caribbean Transformations. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989 (1974), 43-81.
Further reading:

Bernard Moitt. Women and Slavery in the French Antilles, 1635-1848. Bloomington: Indiana U. Press, 2001.

Richard Dunn, Sugar and Slaves (17th century sugar revolution)

Richard Price, Maroon Societies (fugitive slave settlements)

Douglas Hall, In Miserable Slavery (plantation manager’s diary)
Week 5-Diaspora Culture
Martin Munro. “Music, Vodou, and Rhythm in Nineteenth-Century Haiti.” JOHS 14:2 (Spring 2009), pp. XX.

Guerin C. Montilus. “Guinea versus Congo Lands: Aspects of the Collective Memory of Haiti.” In Joseph E. Harris, ed. Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora. Washington: Howard University Press, 1993, 159-166.

“The Clustering of African Ethnicities in the Americas,” and “Conclusion,” in Gwendolyn Midlo-Hall, Slavery and African Ethnicities in the Americas: Restoring the Links. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2005, pp. 55-79 and 165-172.

In class: Divine Horsemen (1985), “Angels in the Mirror” (recording, 1997)

Further reading:
Weaver, Karol K. Medical Revolutionaries: The Enslaved Healers of Eighteenth-Century Saint Domingue. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2006.

Philip Curtin, Africa Remembered: Narratives by West Africans from the Era of the Slave Trade.

Thornton, John. Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400­1800. 2 ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Dubois, Laurent. “Vodou and History.” CUT?


Week 6-The Haitian Revolution (I)
Selections from: Dubois, Laurent. Avengers of the New World. Cambridge: Belknap, 2005.
“Free People of Color in the Southern Peninsula” and “Revolution and Republicanism in the Aquin Parish.” In Garrigus, Before Haiti, 227-302.
Further reading:
Dubois, Laurent. Avengers of the New World. Cambridge: Belknap, 2005.

Fick, Carolyn E. The Making of Haiti: The Saint Domingue Revolution From Below. Knoxville: U. of Tennessee Press, 1990.

Geggus, David. Haitian Revolutionary Studies. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002.

Abbé Raynal “A philosophical and political history of the settlements and trade of the Europeans in the East and West Indies” (1770; Google books)


Week 7-The Haitian Revolution (II)
“Interrogation of the Negress Assam” in Fick, Making of Haiti, 251-9.
“A colonist among the Spanish and the British” and “A Woman’s View of the Last Days of Cap Français.” In Jeremy Popkin, ed. Facing Racial Revolution: Eyewitness Accounts of the Haitian Revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007, 252-269 and 317-328.
“The Three Faces of Sans Souci.” Michel-Ralph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and Production in History. Boston: Beacon Press, 1995, 31-69.
Laurent Dubois, “An Enslaved Enlightenment: Rethinking the Intellectual History of the French Atlantic.” Social History 31:1 (2006), 1-14.

In class: Égalité for All (2008)

Further reading:
Laurent Dubois and John Garrigus, Slave Revolution in the Caribbean: A Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2006.

Dayan, Joan. Haiti, History, and the Gods. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Geggus, David. The World of the Haitian Revolution. Bloomington: Indiana U Press, 2008.
Week 8-Haiti and the Atlantic World
“An Unthinkable History,” Michel-Ralph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and Production in History. Boston: Beacon Press, 1995, 70-107.
Childs, Matt. “A Black French General Arrived to Conquer the Island’: Images of the Haitian Revolution in Cuba’s 1812 Aponte Rebellion.” The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World. Ed. David Geggus. Columbia: USC Press, 2001. 135-56.
Ada Ferrer. “Talk About Haiti: The Archive and the Atlantic’s Haitian Revolution.” In Doris Garraway, ed., Tree of Liberty: Cultural Legacies of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World. Charlottesville: UVA Press, 2008, pp. 21-40.
Further reading:
Sublette, Ned. The World That Made New Orleans. 2008.

Childs, Matt. The 1812 Aponte Rebellion in Cuba and the Struggle Against Atlantic Slavery. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2006.



The Trial Record of Denmark Vesey. Boston: Beacon Press, 1970.

Dubois, Laurent. Colony of Citizens. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2006.


Week 9-Midterm

No readings


Week 10-Agricultural Reform & the Peasantry of Hispaniola in the 19th Century
Fraginals et al. Between Slavery and Free Labor. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1985, pp. 181-214.

Mimi Sheller. "You Signed My Name, but Not My Feet": Paradoxes of Peasant Resistance and State Control in Post-Revolutionary Haiti. JOHS 10:1 (Spring 2004)

Sara Johnson-La O, “The Integration of Hispaniola: A Reappraisal of Haitian-Dominican Relations in the 19th and 20th Centuries.” Journal of Haitian Studies 8:2 (2002): 4-29.
Further reading:
Hidalgo, Dennis. Searching for an American Dream: The 1820s Free Black Emigration to Haiti. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press forthcoming.

Sheller, Mimi. Democracy After Slavery: Black Publics and Peasant Radicalism in Haiti and Jamaica. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000.

Carpentier, Alejo. The Kingdom of this World. Harriet de Onís, trans. 1967.
Week 11-The U.S. Occupation; Haiti in American Imaginations

Mary Renda. Taking Haiti. pp. 10-88.

“The View from Abroad,” in Michael Dash, Liberte: A Haiti Anthology. Princeton: Markus Weiner: 1999, 315-339.

Further reading:

Roumain, Jacques. Masters of the Dew. Portsmouth: Heinemann, 1978 (1944).

John H. Craige. Black Bagdad: The Arabian Nights Adventures of a Marine Captain in Haiti. (1933)

Hurston, Zora Neale. Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica. 1937.

Pettinger, Alasdair. Always Elsewhere: Travels of the Black Atlantic. New York: Continuum International, 1998.

Dunham, Katherine. Island Possessed. (1969)

Schmidt, Hans. The United States Occupation of Haiti, 1915-1934. Piscataway: Rutgers U, 1995.


Week 12-Modernity and Fascism in the Caribbean
Edwidge Danticat, The Farming of the Bones. New York: Penguin, 1999. (Lauren Derby. “Haitians, Magic, and Money: Raza and Society in the Haitian-Dominican Borderlands, 1900-1937,” Society for Comparative Study of Society and History 36:3 : 488-526.

Magloire-Danton, Gerarde.D “Antenor Firmin and Jean Price-Mars: Revolution, Memory, HumanismD.” Small Axe 18 (Volume 9, Number 2), September 2005, pp. 150­170

Matthew J. Smith. “Race, Color and the Marxist Left in Pre-Duvalier Haiti.” In Dwayne Curry et al., eds. Extending the Diaspora: New Histories of Black People. Urbana: University of Chicago Press, 2009, 245-269.

Graham Greene. The Comedians. (1966) (Excerpts)

“The Status Quo: Elites, Soldiers, and Dictators” in Dash, Libete, 45-79.

In-class: “The Agronomist” (Dir. Jonathan Demme, 2002)

Further reading:

Paul Laraque, Jack Hirschman, Boadiba, eds. Open Gate: An Anthology of Creole Poetry. Willimantic, CT: Curbstone Press, 2001.

Smith, Mathew J. “From Dessalines to Duvalier Revisited: A Quarter-Century Retrospective.” JOHS 31:1 (Spring 207).

Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. Haiti: State Against Nation. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1989.


Week 14-Literature and Art in Haiti and the Diaspora
Haiti: Writing Under Siege (2004) (Excerpts)

“(Rara) Rap Haiti! Wyclef Jean’ Chante pwen, Embattled Black Masculinity, and Diasporic Remix as Political Protest.” In Jana Evans Braziel, Artists, Performers, and Black Masculinity in the Haitian Diaspora. Bloomington: Indiana U Press, 2008, 143-173.

Edwidge Danticant, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010. -Krik? Krak!
Further reading:

Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory (1994)

McCarthy Brown, Karen. Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

McAlister, Elizabeth. Rara! Vodou, Power, Performance in Haiti and Its Diaspora. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

Gage Averill. A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey: Popular Music and Power in Haiti. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.

Richman, Karen E. Migration and Vodou. 2005.

Kaussen, Valerie, ed. Migrant Revolutions: Haitian Literature, Globalization, and U.S. Imperialism. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2007.
In-class: “The Other Side of the Water: Rara in Brooklyn” / “Fet Gede in Little Haiti” (excerpts)

Week 15-Aristede, neoliberalism, and contemporary Haitian politics
Peter Hallward. Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristede and the Politics of Containment. Brooklyn: Verso, 2008. (Excerpts)

Jean-Betrand Aristede. In the Parish of the Poor: Writings from Haiti. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1990. (Excerpts.)


In-class: “The Road to Fondwa” (Dirs. Schnorr and Brandon 2009)
Further reading/viewing:

“Vers le sud” (Heading South), 2005.



“Ghosts of Cité Soleil,” 2006.

Final Paper Due
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