10949 - Writing Against The Savage Slot: Reimagining Haitian

This paper situates itself in the developing literature of elite studies and departs from a problematization of the creation myth of the Republic of Haiti : Whose First Black Republic? It initially argues that an anthropology of Haitian socio-political and political-economic processes which does not critically engaged with the First Black Republic thesis in its articulation with the Revolutionary elite and its legacy in effect denies historicity to the peoples of Haiti : the story starts at Independence , and ends there – the legitimate Haitian is he who was present in 1804. While Trouillot detects a silencing of the Revolution in the historial record, an anthropology or historiography premised on the facticity of the Black Republic paradoxically moves Haitians toward the cohort of “people without history” that Wolf finds subsumed in the narrative of the West, and thus retains Haiti in the Savage Slot constructed with disciplinary complicity as counter-point to Western Civilization in Trouillot’s schema of a North Atlantic geography of the imagination. Drawing on recent ethnographic fieldwork in Port-au-Prince , on ontological and epistemological grounds with implications in other postcolonial situations, the paper finally argues for a national narrative imagined against the Savage Slot to incorporate as bona fide, territorialized and affective Haitians non-Black formations with post-Independence roots in Europe and the Levant caught in dialectical histories with Revolutionary legacies. An anthropology of Haiti must apprehend Haitian affect in non-Black Haitian elites, if it hopes to apprehend viably linkages between their socio-cultural practices and national political-economic outcomes.

Keywords: Elites, power, class, privilege, postcolony

Author: Marius, Philippe (City University of New York Graduate Center, Ud States of Am / USA)


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