Haiti's Paper WarPost-Independence Writing, Civil War, and the Making of the Republic, 1804-1954

Haiti's Paper WarPost-Independence Writing, Civil War, and the Making of the Republic, 1804-1954

Chelsea Stieber

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9781479802135

Publisher: NYU Press


This book begins where so many others conclude: 1804. Recent scholarship has begun to explore the challenges that Atlantic world powers posed to Haitian sovereignty and legitimacy during the Age of Revolution, but there existed an equally important internal challenge to Haiti’s post-independence sovereignty: a civil war between those who envisioned a military authoritarian empire and those who wished to establish a liberal republic. This book argues that the post-independence civil war context is central to understanding Haiti’s long postcolonial nineteenth century: the foundational political, intellectual, and regional tensions that constitute Haiti’s fundamental plurality. Considerable work has been dedicated to unearthing the uneven and unequal production of historical narratives about Haiti in the wake of Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s groundbreaking Silencing the Past, but many more narratives—namely, those produced from within Haitian historiography and literary history—remain to be questioned and deconstructed. This book unearths and continually probes the conceptually generative possibilities of Haiti’s post-revolutionary divisions, something the current historiographic framework on Haiti’s long postcolonial nineteenth century fails to fully apprehend. Through close readings of original print sources (pamphlets, newspapers, literary magazines, geographies, histories, poems, and novels), it sheds light on the internal realities, tensions, and pluralities that shaped the Haitian Revolution and its aftermath to reveal the process of contestation, mutual definition, and continual (re)inscription of Haiti’s meaning throughout its long nineteenth century.