Historical studies have set up a paradox where religious practices are discussed as socially important to enslaved people while simultaneously are described as peripheral to the outbreak of the Haitian Revolution. Yet at the heart of the lead up to the 1791 insurgency was an Afro-Caribbean religious event called the Bois-Caiman ceremony. The timing of that ceremony in conjunction with a cultural analysis of its religious leadership and its religious practices, primarily dance and blood-oath, lead to a reading of the sources that stresses that religion played a more central role to the insurgency than previously argued. By employing recent anthropological methodologies and insights about the active role of culture in slave life, this study finds that the religious practices of enslaved people in Saint-Domingue were necessary to the organization and mobilization of the 1791 insurgency. The Bois-Caiman ceremony was a crucial moment in the outbreak of the Haitian Revolution.
The History of Peasants, Tonton Makouts, and the Rise and Fall of the Duvalier Dictatorship in Haiti
This dissertation analyzes the social and political history of Haitian peasants and the formation of the brutally repressive Duvalier dictatorship. It establishes that the rise of the dictatorship was the result of a political trajectory shaped by historical processes. In post- emancipated Haiti during the nineteenth century, thousands of peasants, who were formerly enslaved, joined the military and participated in insurrections to achieve high status and social mobility.