From Haiti to Cuba and Back: Haitians’ Experiences of Migration, Labor, and Return, 1900-1940

This dissertation is a social history of the approximately 200,000 individuals who migrated seasonally between their homes in rural Haiti and the eastern regions of Cuba during the height of the United States’ military and economic presence in both countries. Existing scholarship explains Haitians’ movements in terms of the United States’ military presence in Haiti (1915- 1934), the country’s rural poverty, and the massive growth of U.S.- and Cuban-owned sugar plantations in Cuba. However, the migrants themselves have not been studied. Instead, previous scholarship puts forth an image of Haitian migrants that is heavily influenced by false, long-standing assumptions about Haiti and the anti-immigrant stereotypes of the early 20th-century Cuban press. They are portrayed as a homogenous group of unskilled laborers who remained at the bottom of labor hierarchies, were isolated from other groups in Cuban society and were dominated by Cuban sugar companies and state officials in both countries.

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