Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences


Modern Languages and Literatures

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Daniel M. Mengara

Committee Member

Rabia Redouane

Committee Member

Lisa Beckstrand


This work explores the complexities of Haiti’s embattled destiny, and shows how the particular political, social, economic and culural history of Haiti has led the nation into an existential dead end. As a matter of fact, Haiti seems to be hampered by a deep historical divide, which finds its origin in the colonial history of the country, especially during slavery and later during the colonial period under France. Although mulattoes and blacks rebelled against slavery and fought together for their independence in 1804, they remained divided on the basis of race, culture and socioeconomic status for a long time to come, and these antagonisms have in turn poisoned the political situation. The different governments, whether led by mulattoes or blacks, have been unable to establish an economic plan for the country that both blacks and mulattoes would be excited about.

Haiti, located South of Florida and right next to Cuba in the West Indies, is the first independent Black republic in the world. It acquired its independence from France in 1804. However, since that time the country has never been able to stabilize its social, economic and political situation. The main reasons for the nation’s confusion lie in the fact that the majority of its black population inherited most of its culture from Africa, yet it is, at the same time, called upon to adjust to a political, social, cultural and economic context that has been complicated by several centuries of slavery and racism. Haiti’s population is primarily made of descendants of African slaves, which represents 95% of Haitians. This segment of the population speaks Creole and practices Voodoo. However, there is a small percentage of the population that is mixed (the mulattoes) and prefers Western culture, which it sees as more “refined” and more “stylish” than black culture. These mulattoes speak either French or English because they are educated in French or American schools; furthermore they practice Catholicism as their religion, and control the economy of the country. The mulattoes, because of their financial interests, favor a more capitalistic type of economic system in a country that is one of the poorest on the planet.

As a result, there has been throughout Haiti’s history a pattern of division within the political elite and society, which has led to the inequitable distribution of the economic resources of the country, and the reinforcement of cultural antagonisms within society. Because of this, Haitian leaders have been unable to identify the best way to reunify the country, to reduce the gap between rich and poor, to promote and value the richness of its varied cultural inheritances, and to chose an economic orientation, either capitalism or socialism, that would satisfy its population as well as its international allies.

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