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Duvalier's Ghosts

Race, Diaspora, and U.S. Imperialism in Haitian Literatures

Jana Evans Braziel

Publication Year: 2010

From a position of urgent political engagement, this provocative book offers novel and compelling interpretations of several well-known Haitian-born authors, particularly regarding U.S. intervention in their homeland.

Drawing on the diasporic cultural texts of several authors, such as Edwidge Danticat and Dany Laferrière, Jana Evans Braziel examines how writers participate in transnational movements for global social justice. In their fictional works they discuss the Unites States’ many interventionist methods in Haiti, including surveillance, foreign aid, and military assistance. Through their work, they reveal that the majority of Haitians do not welcome these intrusions and actively criticize U.S. treatment of Haitians in both countries.

Braziel encourages us to analyze the instability and violence of small nations like Haiti within the larger frame of international financial and military institutions and forms of imperialism. She forcefully argues that by reading these works as anti-imperialist, much can be learned about why Haitians and Haitian exiles often have negative perceptions of the U.S.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-9


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pp. ix-11

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Preface: “Haïti existe!”

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pp. xi-xxvii

Following the lackluster Bicentennial celebrations in Haiti in January 2004, February saw the small island country erupt into chimère (street gang, literally, chimerical) street violence after four years of political strife between President Aristide, the Fanmi Lavalas (Family Lavalas, FL) Party, and the so-called...

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pp. xxix-xxx

For research and pedagogical support, I am grateful to the University Research Council, the Faculty Development Council, and the Taft Research Center at the University of Cincinnati, as well as to the Five Colleges Center for the Study in the Americas (CISA), the Institute on Race and Ethnicity in the University of Wisconsin...

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Introduction: Kalfou Danjere: State Apparatus, War Machine, and Terror in a Transnational Context

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pp. 1-41

Michel-Rolph Trouillot provocatively writes in Haiti: State Against Nation that “the Duvalierist Executive can be viewed as a series of reductions in which the first term swallows the second: State = Nation; Executive = State; Chief of State = Executive” (170).1 While Trouillot acknowledges that “François Duvalier invented...

Part 1: Policed Waters, Transatlantic Military Zones

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pp. 43-113

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1. Rethinking the Black Atlantic: Trans-American Regimes of Violence, Epistemological Occlusions

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pp. 45-66

One of the largest and longest periods of out-migration from Haiti occurred during the despotic Duvalier dictatorship (from 1957 to 1971 under the rule of François “Papa Doc” Duvalier, and from 1971 to 1986 under his son and successor, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier). Some internal or return migration occurred following...

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2. Lòt Bò Dlo: Transatlantic Journeys, Haitian Refugees, and the Perils of the Black Atlantic

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pp. 67-90

Lòt bò dlo (l’autre-bord de l’eau), the other side of the water1—for Haitians escaping hunger, poverty, political persecution, and militaristic violence, the Kreyòl phrase evokes not only the other side of the water, the longed-for destination of promise and refuge, but also, more perilously, death. To be lòt bò dlo may mean that one has...

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3. Liminal Citizens: Drifting between Ginen and Guantánamo

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pp. 91-113

Haiti is navigating the black Atlantic roots and routes between Ginen, the mythical African homeland, and Guantánamo, the U.S. military base located in eastern Cuba. For those adrift in transatlantic currents, life fluctuates perilously between the Scylla of lost ancestral origins and the Charybdis of imperial military...

Part 2: Occupied Lands, Aborted States, Arrested Developments

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pp. 115-174

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4. Lapè Nan Vant: Hunger, Poverty, and Food Economies

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pp. 117-145

What is lapè nan vant, or “peace in the belly”?1 A roadside billboard advertising AT&T and the “benefits of transnational telephonic communication” in Haiti reads: “Rele Etazini Kòlèk. Tout moun, toute kote, tou pres” [Call the United States Collect. Everyone everywhere is close by].2 The sign advertises the electronic...

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5. Aborted States of Development?: Haiti’s Historical Revenants, Post-Duvalier’s Daughters

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pp. 146-174

Images of births, stillbirths, infanticide, and abortions recur in all of Edwidge Danticat’s literary texts. How, if at all, are these recurrences parallel to images of infanticide that recur in literary texts by African American women writers (as discussed in Caroline Rody’s The Daughter’s Return)? In Danticat’s first novel...

Part 3: State Violence in a Transnational Context

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pp. 175-207

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6. Le Cri des Oiseaux Fous: Duvalierism, Development, State Violence, and Duvalierism without Duvalier

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pp. 177-200

History calls out like le cri des oiseaux fous, the cry of mad birds.1 As a republic, Haiti has long been branded a country of militarism, violent coups d’état, repressive state policies, despotic dictatorships, and state terror or violence. In fact, such theoretical and rhetorical framings of the Repiblik dAyiti, the Republic...

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7. Amour Douleur Folie: State Violence and Post-Duvalierist Revenants

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pp. 201-218

Dany Laferrière’s novel Le cri des oiseaux fous revisits the emotional themes of Marie Chauvet’s trilogy Amour colère folie (1968), offering post-Duvalier perspectives on love, anger, and madness in Haiti and in the Haitian diasporic context. Love persists. Laferrière reveals...

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8. “He Came to Kill the Preacher”: Saints, Martyrs, Torturers, and Post-Duvalierist Returns

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pp. 219-252

Danticat’s The Dew Breaker, published in early March 2004 (just days after the forced resignation and departure of Pres. Jean-Bertrand Aristide from the country on an American military jet), is a novel that unfolds in short story form. It is about a former member of the Volunteers for National Security...


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pp. 253-274


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pp. 275-302


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pp. 303-308

About the Author

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pp. 309-341

E-ISBN-13: 9780813045474
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813034577
Print-ISBN-10: 0813034574

Page Count: 344
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 743256882
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Duvalier's Ghosts

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Subject Headings

  • Haitian literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
  • American literature -- Haitian American authors -- History and criticism.
  • Haiti -- In literature.
  • Race in literature -- Congresses.
  • Literature, Modern ‡x History and criticism.
  • Politics and literature -- Haiti -- History.
  • United States -- Relations -- Haiti.
  • Haiti -- Relations -- United States.
  • Haiti -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
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