As the first African American novel to feature both African characters and take place in Africa, Pauline Hopkins’s Of One Blood (serialized in The Colored American 1902–03) has been celebrated as one of the earliest articulations of black internationalism. This paper expands the coordinates of Hopkins’s global commitments, charting an alternative geography beneath the Africa-oriented Of One Blood. Rather than look east, I turn to the Caribbean to reveal how Haiti emerges at key moments of female resistance. Focusing on the spiritual practices of the matrilineage of Hannah-Mira-Dianthe, I argue that women in the novel carry specifically Haitian rather than Ethiopian valences: from colonial Saint-Dominguan mesmerism, the prophecy of Bwa Kayiman, the poison of Makandal to – leaping across national and temporal borders – the Haitian-inspired insurrection of John Brown. Situated in the precarious period between the U.S.’s attempted annexation of the Môle-Saint-Nicolas and the 1915 Occupation, Of One Blood stages a feminized Haitian history, which runs beneath the masculinist “back to Africa” romance of Reuel. If, in her editorials for The Colored American, Hopkins wrote of Toussaint Louverture as “Napoleon’s black shadow,” I propose we also think of Haiti as the novel’s quiet but potent shadow to Africa. This muted Caribbean geography re-centers women at the heart of the narrative, adumbrates Hopkins’s anti-imperialist commitments, and questions the U.S. politics of bourgeois respectability. Subverting the reproductive drive of racial-sexual violence, Hopkins’s Haitian-inflected ghosts, prophets, and possessions offer an anti-genealogical model, which ultimately redress historical violence and forge new structures of relation.


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pp. 227-248
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