Dig Deeper: Get to Know Haiti
In the past several weeks, Haiti has become a frequent news topic, the world following the twists of political intrigue and fallout sparked by the assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse in the early morning on July 7. The plot is alleged to have included a pair of retired Colombian soldiers, an intelligence officer, and a Florida-based pastor.
Many also recall Haiti from the earthquake that devastated the country in 2010 or, perhaps, the 1791 Haitian Revolution, an insurrection of self-liberated slaves against French rule.
But there is so much more to know about Haiti, including its people, its culture, and its land. Haiti is home to 9 million people and has two official languages: French and Haitian Creole. Occupying the western part of Hispaniola and sharing the island with the Dominican Republic, Haiti resides between the Atlantic Ocean to the north, and the Caribbean Sea to the south.
Bartell, Jim. Haiti. Bellwether Media, Inc, 2011.
Works from and about Haiti, curated by Jutta Seibert, Director of Research Services & Scholarly Engagement at Falvey Memorial Library.
Haitians writing about Haiti
Dubois, Laurent, Kaiama L. Glover, Nadève Ménard, Millery Polyné, and Chantalle F. Verna, eds. The Haiti Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham: Duke University Press, 2020.
Includes excerpts from the works of Haitians from all walks of life covering political tracts, novels, poems, and songs, among others. Featured writers include Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Simon Bolivar, Henri Christophe, Victor Schoelcher, François Duvalier, René Depestre, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Edwidge Danticat, Jean Casimir, Frankétienne, and Emeric Bergeaud.
- James, C.L.R. The Black Jacobins. 2nd ed., rev. New York: Vintage Books, 1989.
Groundbreaking study about the Haitian Revolution by Trinidadian historian C.L.R. James. First published in 1938, The Black Jacobins are still in print.
- Forsdick, Charles, and Christian Høgsbjerg. The Black Jacobins Reader. Durham: Duke University Press, 2017.
- Douglas, Rachel. Making The Black Jacobins: C.L.R. James and the Drama of History. Durham: Duke University Press, 2019.
- Kleist, Heinrich von. The Betrothal in Santo Domingo.
Print copy available. One of the earliest literary works about the Haitian Revolution. German writer Heinrich von Kleist explores interracial love in his 1811 novella.
- Bergeaud, Emeric. Stella: A Novel of the Haitian Revolution. New York: New York University Press, 2015.
First English translation of Stella, a novel about the Haitian Revolution by Haitian novelist Emeric Bergeaud, first published in 1859.
- Bontemps, Arna. Drums at Dusk. A Novel. New York: Macmillan, 1939.
A novel by Harlem Renaissance member Arna Bontemps.
- Frankétienne. Dezafi: A Novel. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2018.
A novel about life under the Duvalier regime written in Haitian Creole by Haitian writer Frankétienne. Now available in English translation.
- Danticat, Edwidge, ed. Haiti Noir. New York: Akashic Books, 2011.
A collection of stories from Haiti including works by Edwidge Danticat, Gary Victor, Evelyne Trouillot, Madison Smartt Bell, Patrick Sylvain, Kettly Mars, and Yanick Lahens.
Contemporary Accounts of the Haitian Revolution:
- Rainsford, Marcus. An Historical Account of the Black Empire of Hayti. Durham: Duke University Press, 2013.
A new edition of the earliest English-language account of the Haitian Revolution. Originally published in 1805.
- Geggus, David Patrick. The Haitian Revolution: A Documentary History. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2014.
Print copy available. Features a wide range of primary sources related to the Haitian Revolution including personal recollections, letters, government documents, popular songs, travel narratives, and advertisements.
- Toussaint Louverture. The Memoir of General Toussaint Louverture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
Print copy available. Edited and translated by Philippe R. Girard, this book includes a transcript of the handwritten account and an English translation.
- Beard, J. R., and Toussaint Louverture. Toussaint L’Ouverture: A Biography and Autobiography. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2001.
Combines John Relly Beard’s biography with the first English language translation of Toussaint Louverture’s memoir.
- Byrd, Brandon R. The Black Republic: African Americans and the Fate of Haiti. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020.
Print copy available. Byrd explores the ambivalent attitudes that African American leaders in the post-Civil War era held toward Haiti.
- Casimir, Jean. The Haitians: A Decolonial History. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2020.
Haitian scholar Jean Casimir decolonizes Haitian history.
- Dillon, Elizabeth Maddock, and Michael J. Drexler, eds. The Haitian Revolution and the Early United States: Histories, Textualities, Geographies. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016.
Dillon and Drexler gathered a group of experts to explore various aspects of the influence of the Haitian Revolution on the Early Republic.
- Dubois, Laurent. Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2004.
“A powerful narrative informed by the latest research, it digs beneath ready-made notions―whether of purely heroic rebels or of implacable caste hatreds―to bring to light the forging of new identities and new ideals.”―Robin Blackburn, The Nation
- Gaffield, Julia. Haitian Connections in the Atlantic World: Recognition After Revolution. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2015.
“Gaffield frames Haitian independence as both a practical and an intellectual challenge to powerful ideologies of racial hierarchy and slavery, national sovereignty, and trade practice.”
- Grüner, Eduardo. The Haitian Revolution: Capitalism, Slavery, and Counter-modernity. English ed. Cambridge: Polity, 2020.
Print copy available. Argentinian sociologist Eduardo Grüner examines the impact of slavery on the evolution of modernity in South America.
- Klooster, Wim. Revolutions in the Atlantic World: A Comparative History. New edition. New York: New York University Press, 2018.
Klooster examines the American, French, Haitian, and Latin American revolutions through a comparative lens.
- Scott, Julius S. The Common Wind: Afro-American Currents in the Age of the Haitian Revolution. London: Verso, 2018.
Print copy available. This award-winning study about “the colliding worlds of buccaneers, military deserters, and maroon communards from Venezuela to Virginia” is based on the author’s 1986 dissertation which remained unpublished for more than three decades.
Shawn Proctor is Communication and Marketing Program Manager, and Jutta Seibert is Director of Research Services & Scholarly Engagement at Falvey Memorial Library.
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