HAT 3564, Haitian Culture and Society
Monday, August 27th
Notes from Nicholls, 19 27; Arthur 17 35
1625 "marauding bands"
1697 Rijswick (French-Spanish treaty)
1791-1804 Haitian Revolution; Invention of guerrilla warfare
Slave labor and French capital
Dependence on the metropolis no free trade
Sugar and coffee
450,000 slaves = "black" (North)
40,000 colonists = "white" (North)
governor general = military leader
grands blancs = wanted some free trade
petits blancs... "blan mannan"
30,000 affranchis = "yellow, brown and black" (South)
Mulatto affranchis versus black affranchis
(In 1791 much of the South was owned by affranchis).
Causes and conditions: "the racial prejudice of the whites led to color prejudice on the part of the
Types of colonial slavery:
"Paternalistic" / small-scale slavery in Hispanic societies
"Industrial slavery" in Saint Domingue =
The prevailing philosophy was that cruelty and torture increased productivity in the
context industrial slavery.
Development of proprietorship
Haitian Culture and Society
Classroom discussion module.
Define these concepts with your partner: [2 minutes]
Caste / class / race / color / ethnicity / culture / social group
Prapare a 1 minute description (make 4 major points)
1. Describe "slaves."
2. Describe the "whites."
3. Describe the "affranchis."
4. Describe the "marrons" [mawon] and marronage.
5. Columbus' encounter with the Tainos.
6. The concept of forced conversion.
7. The buccaneers and flibustiers.
8. Describe how slavery grew in Haiti, especially between 1750-1791.
9. What was the role of poison in Saint Domingue?
Dessalines 1804 1806
State-run agriculture; plantation life and serfdom.
His egalitarianmis and land redistribution angered mulattoes.
Henri Christophe 1807 1820
The Northern Kingdom
Citadelle La Ferribre built at enormous human cost
Alexandre P6tion 1806 1819
Distributed state land for political purposes
Presided over the foundation of the Haitian peasantry
This involved the dissolution of the plantation society
Jean-Pierre Boyer 1820 1844
Unified the island or Invaded Spanish territory?
Rapid rise and fall of presidents in the 19th and 20th centuries
U.S. Occupation 1915 1935 and the death of the 19th century Haitian military tradition and the spawning
of the new military, arbiter of political control
Lescot Estim6 Magloire -
Francois Duvalier 1957 1971... Jean-Claude Duvalier 1971 1986
The Duvaliers presidential militia, the Tonton Makout, eventually exceed the military in membership,
influence and acts of violence in Haiti
+Duvalier selects the Catholic priesthood in Haiti.
The Haitian left still calls elements of the right makout and makoutis to this day
Topics for discussion:
1. Taxing the peasantry versus taxing working professionals
2. Christophe's kingdom
3. Graham Greene's impressions of Haiti (60-61)
4. Violence under Jean-Claude Duvalier
5. Blood money: selling Haitian blood and cadavers
Nichols 27 43
Og and Chavannes
Affranchis = "Freed people"
1. Anciens libres = predominantly mulatto
2. Nouveaux libres = predominantly black
Different economic and political interests (and historical experiences) undermined mulatto
and black relations
Toussaint versus Rigaud
Dessalines / Christophe versus P6tion
Leclerc arrives in 1802 with 5,000 French troops.
Vodou allowed the African past to be perpetuated and provided an instrument of solidarity
Placage versus Marriage: Examples of Peasant and Elite Practices
Haitian elites are sensitive over marriage because of inheritance: money and land
Individuals are concerned about jeopardizing family status/prestige.
Placage extramarital unions of respectable people
Requires no civil or religious formality
Place (common law wife) has complete control of farm in husband's absence. But, the
man chooses his wife, owns the land, and prepares land when he pleases...
Man and woman in Haiti are economic partners in a struggle for existence
Women outnumber men in Haiti today 6 women to 4 men...
Elites marry; peasants use plagage = an important split
5 generations of marriage in the family.
Parental consent needed for marriage.
Certificate of civil marriage required before a religious marriage.
Status of women in the Haiti of the 1940s
Women had to receive consent from husbands to buy and sell land.
Could not vote or hold public office.
It is tabou for elite women to do manual labor.
Husband freer in sexual life
Law specifies that adultery is a cause for divorce for men; but only for women if"he shall
bring his concubine into the common dwelling" (192)
* The state allows NO DOMINANT RELIGION
* ALL CHILDREN ARE LEGITIMATE
* (in or outside of wedlock) Real fan
* Freedom of DIVORCE established
Recognizes the Catholic Church in his CONSTITUTION of
Article 37: "If in the course of time other religions are introduced, no person
shall be hindered, so long as he conforms to the laws, in following the cult
[religion] he [or she] has chosen."
These are ENLIGHTENED and TOLERANT LAWS... but:
He repealed Dessalines' laws protecting 'illegitimate' children and divorce on
Provides Vodou with room to grow...
70 (non-Roman) Haitian Catholic priests in 1840
Assured the independence of Haitian Catholicism till this day
Methodists and Baptists earliest Protestants
Boyer (and the entire political class) strive to bridge the gap:
Recognition by Rome = LEGITIMACY
President Soulouque the Vodouist president 1847 1859
President Geffrard overcomes the schism in 1860
In 1930, 70 years after the CONCORDAT, Haiti has 206 priests (8 Haitian),
105 Brothers and 366 Sisters for 2,652,290 Haitians...
Questions for discussion from Arthur 69 85.
1. How does the excerpt portray smugglers?
2. Describe the modem elite; how did it view Aristide?
3. What factor has changed the traditional power struggle
between landowners and the merchant capitalists? How did
this new group damage landowners?
4. What kind of relationship did the "monopolist faction" have
with the Duvalier dictatorship?
5. What did the Aristide government demand from the business
6. Describe the coup d'6tat of Septermber 29th, 1991.
7. What was a major setback for Haitian peasants in the early
3 = The assembly industrialists
7 = African swine fever
Quiz: Rural Haiti (Arthur 80-100)
1. Madan Sara is a woman who:
a. heals b. re-sells c. sells wholesale
2. A 'konbit / coumbite' is:
a. voluntary collective labor b. compelled / required collective labor c. labor union
3. Successful peasants own:
a. tiny and widely-dispersed plots. b. large and concentrated plots.
4. Haiti was stripped of this valuable tree in the 19th century:
a. Live Oak b. Teak c. Mahogany
5. A major set-back for farmers in the 1980s was
a. a drought b. African swine fever
6. The singing leader of a konbit / coumbite is the
a. lambi/lanbi b. corv6e/k6ve c. simidor/simid6
7. Women do not carry out day to day maintenance of the fields:
a. True b. False
8. Girls are forbidden from going to the market place:
a. True b. False
9. Who does not want road improvements in Haiti's coffee business?
a. Growers b. Speculators
Chose the animal that best reflects the livestock and size of land holdings of the given period:
a. Goat b. Chicken c. Pig
a. Goat b. Chicken c. Pig
a. Goat b. Chicken c. Pig
Nichols, 57 66
1. Match the concepts of "military oligarchy" and "military
autocracy" with the North (Christophe) or the South (P6tion).
Explain the terms.
2. What kind of arguments did the respective (North vs. South)
3. Describe the balance of power in the respective governments.
4. How does Nicholls characterize the struggle between the North
and the South?
5. What are some highlights and low-points of Boyer's long rule
6. What were the consequences of the indemnity? What would
you have done if you were in Boyer's shoes?
7. The U.S. occupied Haiti. Talk about Haiti's occupation of...
and why is Mackenzie's comment included on p. 64?
- Oligarchy is a form of government through a few wealthy/noble families (adellike
families); family rule
- Autocracy, autocraat is een "heerser die alle staatsmacht in zich verenigt"
Authoritarian, Haitian influence Aristocratic, French influence...
Nationalist Parliamentary / 'Liberals'
Soulouque (1847-59) Geffrard (1859-67)
Duvalier, Papa & Baby
Nichols, 67-87. Pride and prejudice
1. Boyer presided over a peaceful 2 decades
2. The colour issue is used by mulatto and black to seek and justify power
3. Military government
4. Mid-1820s Haiti's population is 800,000 with an army of 32,000 soldiers
5. Boyer's "Rural Code" attempts to attach workers to the land and end vagrancy.
6. Vodou has always has always inspired passion, positive and negative.
7. Several Haitian leaders played Voodoo into their plea to have Vatican return.
8. Black or mulatto leader executed opponents
9. Boyer's downfall was blamed on "corruption," "nepotism," and racism.
10. The piquet leader Acaau denounced Boyer as an Black oppressor. Acaau wanted to
confiscate land and distribute it among the poor.
11. La politique de doublure.
12. La politique de doublure and the rise of Soulouque. Black ruler, open to Voodoo.
13. The paramilitary zenglen [zinglins] as the roots of the tonton makout.
14. Geffrard and the Concordat of 1860.
15. Geffrard invested in a Medical School, a Law School and a few lycdes.
16. By the late 19th century, the leaders of 1804 became politicized and symbolic on racial
Arthur 111 131
Identification Quiz: Please identify in one, short sentence [2 pts each].
1. Define restavek?
2. What is Cite Soleil?
3. An example of a micro-enterprise?
4. Who said: "the deadly contagion called capitalism" ?
5. Where do "figurines of one's enemies" come from?
6. Why is "zinc" referenced in the reading?
7. What is fritay?
8. What is the excerpt: "beast of burden" about?
9. What does Pocahontas refer to?
Report to the class what the most striking aspects of the reading are
Questions for group discussion:
1. Describe the life of a street child in urban Haiti.
2. What are some of the problems that beset Haitian hospitals?
3. What are key issues in family planning in Haiti? What are male and
female attitudes toward birth control?
4. How has Haiti suffered misinformation regarding AIDS? Who is
responsible and what were the consequences?
5. Describe public and private education in Haiti. What kind of schools are
there and how can they be classified?
6. What are neighborhood committees? How are they organized, how do
they function? What is their advantage?
Questions for discussion from Arthur 209 27
1. Give several examples of foreign interventions in Haiti.
2. How did Haiti inaugurate the phenomenon of "Third
3. What immigrant group became important in the late 19th
century? How did they pose a threat? How did they
4. Who was FRAPH?
5. What was the corvee? How did Americans obtain labor?
6. What are the lessons on U.S. occupation that Haiti
7. What are the contradictions that P6ralte points out in his
8. How did Bauxite mining impact the Miragoane region
from 1957 1993?
Nicholls 109 164
1. "Liberals" versus "Nationals" in Haitian politics.
2. Anti-clericalism 1880s 1960s.
3. German involvement in Haiti.
4. The meaning of the McDonald contract in 1910.
5. The Masonic movement in Haiti.
6. The Latin versus Anglo-Saxon debate: Banque Nationale.
U.S. Occupation 1915-1934
167 victims of President Vilbrun Guillaume
'Voici ma pipe, m'ap fumin' / 'Men pip mwen, m ap fimen'
Misguided altruism: 'a unique laboratory' (148)
Protection of foreign assets
Land-leasing/land expropriations (150)
U.S. war crimes (151)
Haitian reactions to occupation
Resistance Peralte and the Cacos
Intellectual resistance: Ethnological movement / Noiriste movement of the
1930s and 1940s
Attitudes toward Voodoo
Leon Audin (1904) transformation of Voodoo
Dorsainvil Vodou et nevrose (1913)
Dr. Arthur Holly "Haitians must direct prayers to Legba and Damballah"
Jean Price Mars: Vodou is 'animism' or 'dynamism' not 'fetishism'
i.e. 'spiritual power manifests itself through material forms.' (157)
1. What did the U.S. want to do under the application of 'neo-
2. Describe the activities of Christian mission groups in Haiti. How
would these groups feel about Vodouist or Islamic mission
organizations working in the U.S. saying: "Americans Christians
are caught in Satan's grip"?
3. What is the republic of NGOs?
4. Describe the CIA's involvement in Haiti VS. the Clinton
5. Who was Emmanuel Constant.
6. According to Haitian grassroots organizations, who really holds
the power in Haiti?
7. What were the mixed feelings Haitians held when the U.S.
returned President Aristide in 1994?
8. Describe the disarmament the U.S. military was charged with in
Haiti post-1994. How did it go?
9. How do foreign goods impact an economy? Do Haiti and the
U.S. share anything in common?
Nicholls, 165 181
'mulatrification' Elie Lescot (1941)
50,000 Haitians in D.R. Sugar cane plantations
Noiriste centrality of Voodoo in the life of Haiti
Noiriste view of Catholicism self-imposing alien European culture
Noiriste politics Authoritarian
1. Debate: "the biology of a racial group determines its psychology; its
2. Explain: "Voodoo perpetuates the African past."
3. Explain this anti-liberal view: "...liberty of the press, free elections and
democracy as sordid tinsel designed to mislead the masses."
4. Describe the social class background of Haitian socialists.
5. Describe how blacks and mulattoes in Haiti viewed Mussolini's invasion of
Haile Selassie's Ethiopia.
African culture in religion, music, art and literature
Restructuring education; diminishing Catholicism
Sympathy for European fascism found among some noiristes
Catholic right saw fascism as alternative to communism
Jacques Roumain's Masters of the Dew 1944
Mulatto reaction to noirisme
Agricultural self-sufficiency necessary
"Despotism of Soulouque," Delencour
Rejected Voodoo as superstition (Delencour)
Noirists substitute 'black racism for white racism' (178)
Of Men and Gods
Lecture on the reading
Questions from OfMen and Gods
1. What formal elements of the Vodou religion were present?
2. In what ways does the film illustrate the interpenetration of Vodou and
Catholicism in Haiti?
3. Why do members of the gay community practice Vodou?
4. Where does sexual-orientation come from?
5. What do these men get from Vodou?
6. What is universal about their religious experience?
Arthur, pp. 300-315: Haitian literature
Folk literature (Price Mars, So Spoke the Uncle 1938)
Tales, legends, riddles, songs, proverbs and beliefs
Bouki ak Malis, Bouki ak Lapen
Literature and ideology (Carl Brouard, 1938)
"The most ignorant peasant feels which vaudou temple is more
artistic than another... he will obey a dictatorship that works for
order... people only gradually attain, step by step, liberalism...
P6tion's liberalism sank into despotism..."
Echos of the "Black legend."
The peasant novel (Jacques Roumain 1944)
Land conflict, conflict between families
Shortages of water and resources
"Then we'll call a general assembly of the Masters of the Dew, a
great big coumbite of farmers, and we'll clear out poverty and plant
a new life"
Spiralism and experimental writing (Frank6tienne's Dezafi, 1975)
One of the first high quality Haitian Creole novels: spiralism
Siltana his daughter
Zof6 second in charge
Klod6nis / Mako
The revolution of the zombies against the evil oungan Sentil
Violence in Haitian writing:
1. Murder and torture in Chauvet 1968
2. Killing President Duvalier in Phelps 1976
3. The culture of the Tonton Makout in Depestre 1979
4. The Tonton Makout/torturer in Danticat 1994
5. Haiti as more difficult than Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnai,
MARXIST (COMMUNIST) HAITI
1. Etienne Charlier, 1950s ("Mulatto marxist")
Haiti in 1950s is a semi-colonial society in which class
distinctions are associated with color (201).
2. Emmanuel C. Paul criticized him, arguing that
Economic status, not color determines class structure (202).
Accused Charlier of under-emphasizing the neg mawon and
overemphasizing the afranchi
...The Black and the Mulatto Legends are re-written every generation...
...Haitian authors have the propensity to spin the competing historical racial
legends in their interpretation of the present...
1. Jacques Stephen Alexis (in the tradition of Roumain)
Vodou as an opium... "it paralyzed men, alienated their
courage..." houngan trap people in despair and resignation
Dejan's (2006) critique of the representation of learning, how
could an illiterate student learn to read and write French in such a
"We see in, in the ideas of the people who are at the head of the
Haitian communist movement, French retains its place in
discussions about schools and education" (Dejan 2006: 79)
DUVALIER'S PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
Magloire departs into exile in 1956
Toned down anti-clericalism and noirisme (pro-African, pro-
Praised the Church for its zeal in evangelization
Paid tribute to the anti-Vodou campaigns of the south
Argued for a Haiti without the distinction of color
Praised the army for liberating the country from 'a system of
slavery' instituted by Magloire
Landslide victory (209)
CULTURE & TYRANNY: Duvalier 1957-1971
1. What were Duvalier's first moves upon taking power in 1957?
2. How was Duvalier absorbed once in power? (213)
3. Was Duvalier totalitarian or fascist? (213)
4. What were some of the roles of the tonton makout? (215)
5. How healthy were worker's unions during Duvalier's reign?
6. What action did Duvalier take with regards to the University of Haiti?
1. Reduce the power of the opposition and effect an accommodation.
2. With staying alive and retaining office
3. No. Focused violence on the opposition but did not exterminate ethnic
minorities or build work-camps (death-camps) on a large scale.
4. Repress opposition and build support for Duvalier; effect changes in
the leadership of the armed forces
5. Lowest membership in Latin America.
6. He shut it down and reopened it with a new name and under his
QUIZ ON ARTHUR & DASH, 1999
1. According the Arthur & Dash, Graham Greene's book The Comedians gives a fair
portait of Duval
a. True b. False
2. Wade Davis
a. The Serpent and the Rainbow b. The Magic Island c. Black Baghdad
3. Langston Hughs
a. The Rainy Season b. White Shadows in a Black Land c. Cannibal Cousins
4. Langston Hughs saw a Haiti controlled by blacks
a. True b. False
5. Discussion about the terms "Juida" and "Ardra" is associated with who?
a. Moreau de Saint-M6ry b. John Houston Craige c. William Seabrook
6. What is the missing word from Seabrook's sentence: "a mysterious something super-
added... the magnificently descended"
a. demons b. ancestors c. gods
7. Seabrook compares Vodou dances with
a. Cannibalistic rituals b. fashionable nightclubs of Europe c. subversive activities
8. Amy Wilentz's journalistic work that examines the rise of Aristide's Lavalas party is:
a. The Rainy Season b. Hayti or the Black Republic c. The Dry Season
9. What will Pierre Mabille who wrote The Haitian Panorama never forget?
a. farmers working the soil b. women with loads on their heads c. Vodou drums
10. For Langston Hughs, Haiti was "a sort of military dictatorship back by the guns of
a. Germany b. France c. U.S.A. d. Dominican Republic
The view from abroad, Arthur 315-30
How foreigners (mis)perceive Haiti
"Haiti challenges the prevailing view that blacks were incapable of revolutionary
insurrection" (Arthur & Dash)
Moreau de Saint-M6ry (c. 1789)
"Affect Vodou in public" (321)
Vodou is "a school where those easily influenced give themselves up to a
domination which a thousand circumstances renders tragic"
"Nothing is more dangerous, according to all the accounts..."
Spencer St. John, Hayti or the Black Republic (1886)
John Houston Craige, Black Baghdad (U.S. occupation)
Faustin Wirkus, Cannibal Cousins (U.S. occupation)
William Seabrook, The Magic Island (1929)
Haiti as given over to Vodou and ritual sacrifice
"Blood maddened, sex-maddened, god-maddened..."
"It seemed to me magnificent and not devoid of a certain beauty"
Collective ecstasy VS. soulless robots
Vodou dances VS. our fashionable nightclubs
"a mysterious something super-added... the gods magnificently descended" (324)
Langston Hughes, White Shadows in a Black Land (1932)
Cracker English in little cafes owned by blacks...
Black tellers, white comptroller
Larger stores owned by French, Germans and Syrians ("Assyrian Jews")
Military dictatorship backed by American guns
Graham Greene, The Comedians (1967)
"demonic head of state and malevolent Tontons Macoutes"
Bernard Diederich, Papa Doc and the Tonton Macoutes
"Duvalier's reign of terror..."
Wade Davis, The Serpent and the Rainbow (1986)
Amy Wilentz, The Rainy Season (1994)
Nicholls 1979, pp. 221-237: Duvalier and the Catholic Church, 1957 1971
Griots: The church is an ideological instrument for a small francophone
elite and the church enables its hegemony.
Janvier: The church is a body within the state owing allegiance to a foreign
Duvalier Expected the clergy to pray for him and the Haitian State (222)
Priests expelled (Mgr Robert because of his involvement in
the anti-superstition campaigns of 1941)
"Communist" educators, school teachers fired
Newspapers closed, raided
House arrest of Anglican priest who asked for mercy for
political prisoners (225)
-- Duvalier broke the foreign control of the Roman Catholic Church
-- Insisted on an indigenous hierarchy (226); Pope Paul VI agrees in 1966
-- The Church is seen as a "vassal to the Haitian state"
Big plans to combat illiteracy fails.
Hurbon 1972 + Vodou as the preservation of African identity.
+ Christians should respect Vodou as they respect the other
+ Vodou in Haiti; Islam in Algeria = resistance to cultural
domination (Frantz Fanon 1963)
Noiriste theme and legend under Duvalier
The marron inconnu, neg mawon, 'the unknown runaway' 1968
Goman and Acaau
The challenge from Price Mars (230)
You cannot reduce the social question in Haiti to the color question.
There have always been poor mulattoes and rich blacks.
The challenge from Depestre (231) exiled to Cuba in 1960
Human nature does not differ significantly between races (231)
Duvalier's propaganda mixes Catholicism, Haitian historical legend, Vodou
and military imagery (233)
Rhetoric of populism, empowered peasantry.
National scale of the VSN.
Maintained good relations with the peasantry and black middle class.
Welcomed Vodou leaders into the presidential palace.
Haitianized the church.
Political violence, political prisoners, torture and murder
Failure to enact lasting educational reform and literacy.
The linguistic complexity of Haitian Creole in Haiti (Dejean 1993: 81-2)
South (regional HC)
Central (regional HC, Standard HC)
(n.b. many migrants to P-au-P end up knowing 2 varieties).
Northern (regional HC)
1. HC basilect (varieties spoken by monolinguals)
2. HC mesolect (variety spoken by bilinguals, i.e. there is French influence)
NON-TRADITIONAL BILINGUALS FROM THE DIASPORA
HC + Que6bcois French
HC + Dominican Spanish
The traditional French of Haiti (bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie)
French full of Creolismes (not spoken at home and used for meetings,
television, radio, etc.)
This group also speaks the HC mesolect in # 2.
HAT 3564 Benjamin Hebblethwaite
1. The church is an ideological instrument for a small francophone elite and the church enables its
a) Griots b) Goman c) Antoine Simon
2. Duvalier did not want the clergy to pray for him and the Haitian State.
a) True b) False
3. Duvalier ordered the house arrest of the priest who asked for mercy for political
a) Vodou b) Catholic c) Anglican
4. Pope Paul VI did this in 1966:
a) Stopped persecuting Vodou.
b) Let Haitians chose their Catholic leaders.
c) Excommunicated Duvalier.
5. Vodou in Haiti (1791) and Islam in Algeria (1950-60s) share:
a) Fundamentalist ideology.
b) Resistance to cultural domination.
c) The use of drums to announce war.
6. Hurbon (1972) said that Christians
a) should respect Vodou.
b) are incapable of respecting Vodou.
c) are incapable or respecting any religion.
7. "You cannot reduce the social question in Haiti to the color question. There have always been poor
mulattoes and rich blacks."
a) Price Mars b) Janvier c) Depestre
8. "Human nature does not differ significantly between races."
a) Price Mars b) Janvier c) Depestre
9. Who was Goman?
a) Marron (mawon) ruler of South.
b) Marron (mawon) ruler of North.
c) Marron (mawon) ruler of Port-au-Prince.
10. What is the most prestigious variety of Haitian Creole?
a) Northern b) Central c) Southern