Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, Anténor Firmin and Haiti’s contribution to anthropology (1850-1911) — Anténor Firmin was an anthropologist who pioneered a critical study of race and physical anthropology and developed in his major work, De L’égalité des races humaines…, a vision of anthropology as an integrated study of humanity. The publication date of 1885 of De L’égalité des races humaines marks it as a pioneering text in anthropology and it is perhaps the first major work of anthropology written by a person of African descent. Although Firmin’s tome was lost to Francophone anthropology, it was recognized not only in Haiti but also among Pan-Africanist scholars as an early work of négritude. Anténor Firmin also had a seminal impact on Jean Price-Mars, the 20th century founder of Haitian ethnology, and these ties extend further to the American founder of African and Afro-American anthropology, Melville Herskovits.
In this article, the authors examine the ways Haiti was depicted in anthropological writings during the twentieth century, using the concept of the «anthropological imagination», which they define as an assemblage of representations and practices in the conceptual system of anthropology and the discipline’s communicative interaction.