Awakening the Ashes – Part 1

Dr. Marlene Daut [00:00:00]:

In awakening the ashes, I’ve broken the book down into 3 parts, and the first part is called colonialism. The second part is independence, and the third part is sovereignty. And within each of those three parts, each chapter just has a word as its title.

And so under colonialism, we start with indigenous go on to tackle slavery and prejudice. And the reason I’ve broken the book down in this way is to, think about what Haitian revolutionary thought, how it helped us to kind of understand the development of these phenomena but also of the very terminology used to explain and describe them. And so the second part is, under independence, we have revolution abolition and freedom.

And then in the 3rd part, that is, anti colonialism, anti slavery, anti racism, because even though the revolution has so much to tell us about democracy and formulation of democracy and the idea of formulating a republic, Actually, its most nonlasting legacy is in this the state that it builds after getting through the indigenous period slavery prejudice. Revolution abolition on Alta Freedom.

That’s where we can really see anti colonialism, anti slavery, and anti racism as philosophies of both statehood, nationality, culture, and activism developed. And I should also mention that the introduction is called history. So I sort of, start at the end of the story and then, work my way back to the beginning, beginning in chapter 1

Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:01:45]:

Let’s talk about dedications. I went back and I looked at the Vate book. You wrote this. Mhmm. And then I went to the tropics of Haiti book and you wrote for my 2 Sammy’s in Sebastian. And now for this book, awakening the ashes, It’s for Sammy and Sebastian. So we got French in the first book, English and now. Why creole this time around? I feel like this book is is your most Haitian book. Like with this one. Am I off based on that?

Dr. Marlene Daut [00:02:37]:

So this is a very interesting question and one I have never gotten before. I definitely think this is the most Haitian book in the sense that I got to write exactly the book that I wanted. In fact, for my dissertation, when I was a graduate student, at the University of Notre Dame in the early 2000, I want to write my dissertation on nation intellectual history. But at that time, there was really a sense that you know, night that one couldn’t just write a dissertation on 19th century Haitian literature, let alone something kind of more broadly construed as 19th century haitian thought, that it needed to be something more comparative that there needed to also be some English language works in there. And, you know, Michelle Holcillo has talked about this, idea of writing about some place else before you turn to the place where, you know, you’re connected to through through your identity, and why he did not write about Haiti first and and later came back, and it helps to put things in perspective. So even though I had to do a more comparative project, which ended up being related to, but not exactly the same at all as the this book that became tropics of Haiti, for my dissertation. It was fruitful because it helped me to not fall into the idea of, seeing Haiti in ice solation or seeing Haitian thought in isolation, or, I wouldn’t have been able to understand what points in Haitian Intellectual History and is particularly Haitian revolutionary intellectual history were forms of radical ingenuity, which I talk a lot about in the book, and which were sort of adaptations and reformulate reformulations and crerealizations of different forms of enlightenment thought and and criticisms of enlightenment thought because, of course, in order to see the critiques of that, I have to be familiar with that. So, so, yes, it’s my most Haitian book, in a way, but it is also where I get to explain the radical and enormous and profound impact that Haitian Thought and the Haitian Revolution had, not just in the western world, but on ideas more broadly of universal human rights.

Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:05:11]:

I asked

Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:05:12]:

professor Doubt about the significance of the title of her book awakening the ashes it’s origin. How one should how we should think about it.

Dr. Marlene Daut [00:05:22]:

So Latte is pretty adamant, throughout his writings that he has kind of walked through, so in chapter 1, he also discusses, the chapter 1 that’s called Indigenous that he’s kind of walked through Haiti, so to speak, different places on the island, and he’s been in caves, and he seemed seen the bones, and he’s looked at them, and he’s pulled them up, and they are telling the story of Haiti’s ancestors, the Ayeshaians, the first Haitians as he calls them. And what I noticed is that, when you Charlotte and Earl Doumel, in particular, begin to speak about interrogating or asking the ashes or asking the ancestors in both of their accounts they give the response. They say, I I went and I ask, you know, them, the aborigines, the term that Timelle uses, who are the rightful inheritors of the Haitian Earth, and this is what they said. And so you could think of that as metaphorical but you could also think about it as here are people who feel that they are very connected to the Haitian Pass. That the spirit world, it has much to tell them, Jamelle, as he’s going through his voyage, don’t know, is really talking about the earth and the land. And I think that anyone who, engages in contemplative practice and has sort of, you know, gone deep into forests and watched trees dance and feel like you can suddenly understand it. And think about the language of trees. And there are actually scholars who’ve written about this, or you sit by the ocean and you hear the sounds and you recognize that there’s an entire world under there, and how do we understand and access this world. And so I think it’s important to take very seriously the idea that for these early Haitian thinkers who lived through forms of tragedy, witnessing forms of violence, and, deprivation that I think it is hard for people in the United States in particular, to imagine at this particular moment that to take very seriously the idea of how they comforted themselves, how they spoke to themselves, and then translated that way of being and understanding the world, and making sense of it to other people so that they would have that as well. There’s a passage, from Via Jean Renaud De Yitzi that I discussed where to Mel basically who was a child when all this is going on. So on the one hand, you might say, oh, he’s so young. He doesn’t remember, but on the other hand, you might remember even more profoundly because you were a child, right, and you have less mechanisms of coping. And so he says something like you know, it comforts me to think that the that these, you know, Holocaust offered up to tyranny that that’s what fertilized the heart of liberty, that that’s what we use to propel and drive forward the revolution were all the tragedies, and horrible violence that we suffered. And and Vate says sort of similar things at various moments in Nusystem, colonial, that, you know, the only way that you can put a positive spin on any of this is that what they were doing, the white French colonists was so horrible that the only that it only fueled the revolution. It only accelerated. It’s, coming into existence. So it’s not the French revolution. It’s not French enlightenment or the European enlightenment more broadly, it’s that if you treat people in this horrible manner of slavery with torture and all the depredations that come with that, that it is only a matter of time before they will seek their just right of reprisal in Vate’s terminology.

Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:09:33]:

Here’s, what you wrote. In 18 16, Vate expressed the principles of restitution, reparation, and compensation that formed the backbone of modern claims for restorative justice after mass atrocities. What where do you stand on on restoring restorative justice for Haiti?

Dr. Marlene Daut [00:09:55]:

I think restorative justice for Hades is absolutely imperative. I not sure that there are more clear cut cases on the question of 1, the reparations for slavery, which I do think, need to be decoupled from reparations for the indemnity and in that latter case, has there ever been a more clear cut case where, the New York Times investigation, but of his deeds earlier than that, investigation into the matter, very, very clearly laid out a dollar amount and the logic for it with as we say in modern parlance, the receipts. Right? It’s that this is this is not hypothetical This is that’s not a question of a world that could have been. It’s about actual money that was paid, interest, fees, and, you know, adjusting for inflation. There is also the question, of course, of reparations for slavery, which I wholly support. I don’t think that you can say that patients are the only victims of mass atrocity who don’t deserve reparations. And, of course, you know, I’m exaggerating to a certain extent that Haitian case. It’s not the only case where this has happened, but for example, when I see the the Sandy Hook parents. What a horrible tragedy, this, Connecticut school shooting that results in the death of all these school children and and some of their teachers and other school personnel, terrible, terrible tragedy, but when I see the judgment against Alex Jones, who was not responsible for the killings, but had peddled this conspiracy theories that, the Sandy Hook Naspers didn’t really happen, and it encouraged, in so doing, you know, harassment against these poor grieving parents the judgment against it was something like $999,000,000, like almost a $1,000,000,000 for the that that we it just suggest to me that our world, we very much understand that if you harm other people, you may have to pay them, for their suffering. And so there is the payment for, you know, sort of lost opportunities through slavery, but there’s also the traumas that have been caused and have been handed down, through generational trauma and from generation to generation along with all these stories and we can see very plainly the economic effects on Haiti because, of course, in the latter part of the book of awakening the ashes, particularly, in the the in chapter 8, where I talk about the Kingdom of Haiti at length, you can see that, Haitians were interested in building wealth. And like other 19th century nations, they didn’t always do that in ways that are commensurate with sort of modern understandings of, like, workplace regulations. And so so that’s not an excuse for Christophe, etcetera. It’s just simply to say Hady was on this trajectory, and that trajectory was stopped by Bouygues Indemnity. And Haitian intellectuals very clearly understood that to be the case. And so in chapter 9, I bring up and because I want it to be through their words that they explain. I also talk about, the French abolitionist, Victor Chancher, who, probably, writes on Haiti and in some sense is his critiques of which are sometimes contradictory, but one thing that he really acknowledges is the destruction, caused by the indemnity and how it stopped this path of kind of forward progress and kept Haiti, in a kind of stagnant place and then caused a kind of retrograde to a certain extent, with the code and this kind of reclassification of all Haitians as workers with little, protections, many of the protections that were starting to be put in place, in the Christophe era, actually, kind of getting to the end of his reign and realizing some people are very, very unhappy with him in the kingdom that, and trying to redistribute wealth a little bit more and a little bit more fairly that all of that just stops, and the the focus becomes, oh, we need to pay back this indemnity. So so that’s just to say, on the question of restorative justice, you know, when looking into and learning more about sort of modern restorative justice, there are all kinds of other things that go into that. It’s not just money. There is restoring justice to people and communities, but the the, perpetrator has to restore justice to themselves. And one of the ways that do that is by making things right in the communities that they harmed and putting measures, whether those be laws or other regulations in place to prevent — the similar harms from ever occurring again.

Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:14:40]:

I want you all to put a pin on her answer there regarding, restorative justice for Haiti because an part 3, she goes much deeper into the discussion of of reparations for Haiti and its and its effect. This particular segment of what you’re about to hear where I read a passage, and then you hear doctor Daut’s answers, really resonated with me because it undergirds the, you know, one of the main reasons why I’ve been doing this podcast for the last 2 years, right said many times in different spaces that, we might have won Haiti might have won the military or against, France, but we’ve we’ve been losing the media 1 for the last 200 plus years. It’s encouraging to hear that our ancestors were fully aware of that post independence, and they did everything they could to to keep the receipts to let the world know what was going on down there in San Jose.

Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:15:49]:

As 2 of Hades, 1st historians, and help create a framework, a framework of sovereign defiance against the colonial drive for oblivion. They derived their method directly from Haitian Revolutionary thought. The insistence that slavery and colonialism, revolution, and sovereignty be meticulously documented by Haitians and therefore discussed and not silenced stretches back to the earliest days of independence. Tell us

Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:16:24]:

some more about how, ancestors kept receipts meticulously.

Dr. Marlene Daut [00:16:31]:

So if you look in the back of the earliest, Haitian texts, which, post independence texts, We’ll get into the pre independence ones in a minute, but let’s go to it has this kind of short pamphlet called before, these both of those are from 1804. So before Sean Watts kind of major works. It’s very short seven page pamphlet he writes. And, they are using their memories as evidence. And in case of Blomontonier, they he, you know, includes letters. So there’s some letters from there’s some letters from French soldiers and officials, and this is supposed to support the narrative. This is supposed to show we have kept this documentation you aren’t going to get away with peddling the story that, you know, we’re the aggressors. And they’re really following along, some advice that they’re dating as well. The foreign newspaper saying patience, you need to tell your story because the French are going around crying about how much you decimate their forces in San domain, and you need to reframe the narrative. And so that’s exactly what Desalene does when, he found the gazette, polityke commercial, which creates the the gazette’s, the letter that Kristoff will later, found in 1807. And in this kind of these first issues is let’s go back over the Leclaire expedition and let’s talk about what really happened, in his April 28th famous proclamation, speech and proclamation. This Alene also says, let’s not forget that it’s not just Sandomang, Haiti. It is also Let’s talk about Martinique. Let’s talk about Guadalupe. So he really shows that he has this key historical understanding and awareness and that as much as the French want to try to cover up and make it, not seem like a big deal that they become the 1st state anywhere in the world to reestablish slavery after abolishing it. They want to, you know, it’s colonial indifference. Like, oh, it’s not a big deal. They want to show the world that it is a huge deal. And they say things. Vante says this over and over again. Sean Watts says this, like, One day we have we have monuments. If one day our works reach you across the seas, which of course they did, then the world will know and posterity will know And this, I mean, even says, you know, you can try to tarnish my name as much as you want, but I’m going to do, what is right And one day, this will be recognized, and it’s interesting to me to think about that we are at the moment where if we listen to Desanien’s words, he says, I promise you, if you let the colonizers back on this land, I promise you they will do untold destruction. And this very profound thing he says, in that April 28th speech, he says if my if those who come after me allow them to come back, you know, he’s basically gonna be trembling in his grave, and it will be the Haitian people who suffer. And that’s what we see that when not just foreigners because they make a very big distinction. It’s colonists. And so we can take that perspective in many different directions about the various forms Colindus who have been in Haiti since post independence era, and the very different forms of colonialism that hadia seen since that era, he said that will be the time when you see that the protections I’m trying to put in place are so that we can live peacefully without slavery and without serving a master. And, in the epilogue, I discussed this kind of very poignant passage from the Gazette Royale which is the the newspaper that Christophe sounds, after he becomes named king by his, councilor of state, in 18 11. And, so in a later issue of the paper, he says, you know, there’s really only 2 political parties in Haiti despite what people might think. There’s the ones who are part the partisans of the French, and he says some of those people are Haitians. And there’s those who are not. And the partisans of the French want to return us to slavery, and those of us who do not want to remain free and sovereign and completely independent. And when we think about things in those terms, wow, it just opens up a whole world of thought. I think about Michel Duclough talking about the relationship between French and and linguistic apartheid and all of this that it’s not done. Haiti moved more into the sphere of control and domination from the United States. But that didn’t mean that, that the influence and domination control of the French went away, which creased off articulates very clearly early on by saying as long as we speak French will be dominated because your your language, you know, has something to do with your mind the way you think and habits of mind, and their language reflects their values and their world view And so we have to shift. And, you know, he wasn’t at the moment where he could say Haitian Caole because that was just not in their consciousness in the kingdom at that time. So he thought English would be the way And we clearly see that that didn’t happen. And now the spear has shifted a little bit more towards recognizing the imperative, for Haitian Kyle to be the 1st language recognized first language schooling of all Haitians, the language governance that it must be in order to actually include the people in their own sovereignty, the Haitian people more broadly, not just elites or politicians, those bits establishment in Haiti, that in order for there to be true popular sovereignty, Haitian creole has to take its rightful place as the first language of the Haitian people.

Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:22:16]:

You said this.

Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:22:23]:

18th 19th century Haitians were remarkable record keepers. So much would be lost to us today if not for the painstaking efforts of Sandou Meng Slash Hades various writers who were determined to archive and otherwise preserve written evidence of slavery colonialism and Revolution in Saint Germain. The colonists were covering the Earth and shrieking testimonials about the Haitian Revolution which they usually refer to as an, quote, unquote insurrection. Why is the word insurrection problematic for you? I even catch myself using it sometimes, when referring to the Haitian Revolution. Can you expand on that for us, please?

Dr. Marlene Daut [00:23:20]:

You know, it’s funny you should ask that because I have also used a cop myself saying it before. And it has to do with the sort of forms of silencing that made it seem like, the Haitian Revolution was not as big of a deal. Or an even bigger deal, which, of course, is my argument in awakening the ashes than the American Revolution and the French Revolution. Because if you wanna talk about a restructuring of society, The only one of those revolutions that did that was the Haitian revolution because it the American revolution just swapped out one form of elites for another form of elites. Sure. It changed in name for, you know, you’re no longer at Kingdom. Now the United States is is a republic, but white men, a white male oligarchy for life better term remained in place, white male elites. It didn’t formally and, or or rather of materially restructure society. The French revolution, France bounces back and forth between monarchy and republic and and then empire And, so it doesn’t fundamentally change the structure of society either. It sort of led to more fractureings of those societies. And if you think about the significant transformation that Haitian authors themselves point out, happened after the Haitian Revolution in terms of labor because, of course, France keeps right on enslaving, especially as soon as Napoleon comes right back into power. And not for a little while, for 46 years, they reinstate slavery in Guadalupe and others territories in 1802, and it’s not abolished until 1848, the United States can’t achieve unilateral emancipation until 18 65. So the fundamental structures Who gets to be rich? Who gets to be empowered? Do not change in either of those societies with it overwhelmingly the structures of power tilting towards white men. Think about in Haiti. One day white men are in charge, and metaphorically speaking, the next day, black men are in charge. They have completely reversed the power structure of this society and have said that white people can live in this society, but they cannot live in this society under the power structures of whiteness. And so in the chapter where I discuss, desalines, quote unquote property exclusion, infamous property exclusion, I talk about how it’s, you know, sort of not correctly reading the situation to say he’s banning whites or banning property white property owners He’s saying you can be here and be white, but you have to understand that this is an egalitarian society. And since the word white carries connotations of domination, we’re gonna go with the word black. So all Haitians are gonna be recognized as black, which is, of course, as I’ve discussed before, commensurate with in Haitian Cleo, the word Meg meaning, ma’am, And and the the desire to read that article 14th too literally in desamin’s constitution is just a kind of sleight of hand on the part of the French colonists to say, oh, you know, who’s being racist now. And so the word insurrection as they used it was actually, in the era in the 18th century was to take away from to make it to make it’s back to that colonial difference, that this is something that causes fear and alarm and and unrest, but it’s not gonna fundamentally be a big deal. And so interesting that the French continue to carry that perspective forward into the 19th century when they’re trying so hard to get back this place, Sando Meng, as they continue to call it, that was lost to them, they recognize that every turn, what a huge deal this is, what a huge blow it is, but there’s some type of cognitive dissonance there for them because to recognize what a huge deal with that the Haitian Revolution was would be to recognize the massive loss that they suffered there and the massive, you know, Vate says one point about a colonist named Maser that He calls us overgrown simple minded ignorant children, but doesn’t realize, like, these these people that you’re calling using all these epithets to describe. They beat you in battle. So what does that mean about you? What are you then if these are the people who beat you? And so there’s so much of downplaying the seriousness and the longitudinal consequences of the revolution, even as every action of the friends, shows that they recognize very much This is a revolution of the highest order, and they want to retrograde and go back to the age of slavery, even though they view themselves as kind of the having opened good one of the doors to the age of revolutions.

Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:28:05]:

What’s the 1804 principle?

Dr. Marlene Daut [00:28:09]:

I talked about how the 1804 principle is an opening and invitation. I call it the rest of the world to for the rest of the world to join humanity because slavery and colonialism are incompatible with humanity. This the enslavers and the colonists are inhumane. Therefore, words we find in the declaration of independence, Hades Declaration of Independence. That is the April 28th proclamation from Desaline, in the works of Shamlac, Bajon Donnel, Bajon De Vate, that slavery and colonialism, and then the Haitian State is going to add in in 1805 racism, really. That these are incompatible ideas, philosophies because one of the sort of unrecognized parts of the enlightenment and enlightenment thought European enlightenment is that it authorizes legalizes, slavery to a certain extent by refusing to pronounce upon, in the 17 89 declaration of the rights of man, for example, who is considered a man by refusing to clearly state that, yes, black people, black Africans Africans in general, other people from the rest of the world, including the Native Americans indigenous populations of the Americas, are, quote, unquote, men. And whereas, French writers like we’re able to clearly see, okay, the 17 89 declaration of the rights of men excludes women. And so she writes the declaration of the rights of woman, there there’s still this kind of, way in which there’s a refusal to see there’s a negation because it’s not just an inability. It’s a choice not to include that language not to do anything to interrupt this very profitable regime of slavery and its corresponding colonialism that sort of allows it to flourish And, when the Haitians come to power in San domain, they say we’re going to build our country on the principle that no form of slavery can be legalized by any government, and we’re not going to try to enlarge our territory outside of the bounds of the island because I talk very, sort of in detail about Haitians see the schism between the Eastern Western parts of the island as unnatural. And so there is a desire to wanna unify the entire bounds of the island, but to export the revolution beyond that, no, or to, expand patient territory beyond the limits of, which the Spanish renamed, No. There’s not a will to want to do that. And so, the 1804 principle as an invitation invites the rest of the world to come along and join the age of abolition, started by the Haitian Revolution or to stay in the age of slavery to retrograde and to stay in an inhumane position vis a vis the rest of the world.

Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:31:17]:

You you you have 2 words, acts, which is deeds, a a c t s the, English word, and then you have act a c t e s, the French word, meaning discourse. You said that you had to reconfigure or rethink your definition of the intellectual history of Haiti because acts

Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:31:49]:

and act became the the the two sides of the same intellectual coin for you. Can you can you expand on that for us, please? Tell tell me more about that.

Dr. Marlene Daut [00:32:01]:

So when it sort of hit my brain, that acts you know, the the actions that people take, the English word acts, and act, as you mentioned, the French word for kind of a discourse or a declaration of some sort. We have the Haitian Declaration of Independence is actually lacked dandepandos, that it struck me that the tensions, that Michelle was pointing out and that that I see in, you know, Haitian revolutionary historiography with paying attention to kind of proclamations and deeds that that declare things like the end of slavery. And then all and or the ones that wanna fold back and say, well, let’s look at slavery bills and rebellions more broadly. Let’s look at marital nudge. Look at other acts of resistance as kind of laying the groundwork or themselves being what comes first and then they act and French, the diss the declarations, the proclamations, the discourses that those come later So when it when I started to see the relationship between these 2 kind of words that are, false friends, because they don’t really mean the same thing, they look like they would, but they don’t translate to each other in these separate languages, English, and French. And so when I started to see this less as attention, and it’s something that we must understand together and not necessarily so that, we better understand the act that led to what we call the Haitian Revolution and Haitian Independence. I that is also very important to me that we consider that, but also on the intellectual side that it’s not a separate process from the writing, the scribble techniques that give us And once we begin to see them together, we can see they’re not at odds that people who are acting are acting in an intellectual manner. They’re showing you their discourse. They’re showing you their proclamation. And so probably the greatest example from the book is is in chapter 1 with the Ayesians, the Ayesha, the 1st Haitians, that’s called them. They don’t call them taillos and aroax. For reasons, I explained in the in that first chapter there. But those terms came later and those are, you know, European invented terms. That we can say, well, we don’t have any writing from, you know, this population. So we don’t know what they were thinking And yet they showed us, the, in Ricchio, as a Spanish called him, showed us very clearly what he was thinking when he ran away to the mountains of Barracko, what is now the Dominican Republic and created a maroon state for more than 10 years. And that was a very, very clear act, in both senses of that word to me. And the Christmas time rebellion in 1521 is another one. Those enslaved Africans from Diego Colon’s plantation who rebelled were very clearly showing us and telling us what was on their mind, which was freedom, what was their philosophy freedom, which is getting away from these enslavers and making the life for ourselves in the mountains, and resisting this captivity that we’ve that has been forced upon us by the Spanish and slavers.

Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:35:27]:

What did you mean by the Haitian story is both local and global.

Dr. Marlene Daut [00:35:41]:

So this sort of goes back to, something I was I discussed in an earlier, as a response to an earlier question, which was, you know, when I was trying to write my dissertation on Haitian intellectual history kind of very broadly, just necessarily the intellectual history of the revolution and the idea that this was like some type of niche or very local history and that to really speak in a broader ways to academic audiences, the market forces a job market, getting a job that I have to show that, you know, I understand, a sort of larger set of principles that can be derived from this. And the best way to do that is to do comparative studies, right, and to put the Haitian writers in conversation with European and US writers in particular. And, I, again, I don’t actually think that was a wrong move in the sense of, It just opened my eyes to many things. I became extremely conversant in French, literature, and history, and US American. Literature and history of the 19th century and particularly African American Studies, which many chapters in my first book deal with 19th century African American literature thought intellectual history and print culture. And so that really I was able to see what was distinct and specific about Haitian Literature print culture philosophy intellectual history of the 19th century, what was in what was a conversation that they were having with other intellectuals what were critiques that they were having, and I was really able to understand all of that. And, in in this book, I wanted to show that actually, I the comparativity is kind of baked in, but you have to buy into the idea that, this history is important for the world, not just for Haiti and Haitians. And once you sort of can see that we can’t get to the age of abolition, in the way that we got to it without Haiti. Now I’m not saying we wouldn’t have gotten there eventually, but who knows how long it would take because Katie opens the door to the age of abolition. And as I explained, Great Britain’s not gonna walk through that door until 1833, 1834. France is not gonna do until 1848. The United States really okay at emancipation proclamation earlier, but unilateral emancipation in 1865. The Netherlands. They declared, but it’s not implemented until much later. Puerto Rico, Cuba, Brazil, so late. We have the examples of Grand Columbia, Mexico a bit earlier, but still we’re talking decades. Not years, not not a few years, I mean, not a few months. Not a few hours, decades later it takes for the rest of the world to catch up. And that’s not the ineffectiveness of the Haitian Revolution. That’s the stubborn violent determination of the slaving powers to continue to enslave when they had an example of free labor, quote unquote, that’s what they call it. Haiti had the most free labor system in the world in the early 19th century. You know, all of these intellectuals from around the world who were interested in this question on remarking upon, the code Ari and and other elements of society and on on petion’s side, for example, and it’s not labor again that we would consider extremely progressive today by any stretch of imagination, but compared to chattel slavery. So the the European onlookers are comparing it to the systems of labor that they have, which are the most unfree labor systems in the world. Right? And so that’s really once you see that, okay, you have to look at this Haitian law, and you have to start with law banning slavery. And you have to see that there’s 3 precisions made so that no, kind of, misunderstanding could happen. You know, he uses the word servitude there. Forever abolished, he says free and French in that in that article of the 1801 Constitution, at that this is not something that just affects sand domain that we can go to the US newspapers and see how they were reporting on it to show that they were like, wow. This is an actually amazing thing that is happening in the world right now. Jump to the 1805 Imperial Constitution under, that is reiterated, and then it’s reiterated under for the republic. It’s reiterated under Christophe for the state he builds. It’s going to be constantly reiterated, and each of those iterations is like a little bomb and a dart sent to the rest of the world showing and exposing their inhumanity because why can’t you abolish slavery? The Haitians did it. Look at this massive Kingdom. Look at this opulence. Look at these schools he’s building, which is what I talk about in chapter 8. So each of those is like a a little bomb, and a little expose. Another point of embarrassment for the rest of the world. And it takes them again a while to get there for the laws to come and to catch up to Haiti, but that doesn’t mean that what the patients did was not the most sort of radical, event, of the era at the Haitian Revolution, I mean.

Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:41:30]:

Oh, yeah.

Episode Notes

This is one of my all-time favorite episodes. Even my 15-year-old, who has absolutely no interest (yet) in Haitian history, told me she enjoyed hearing Dr. Marlene Daut on the show. “Daddy, this lady sounds really smart!” I told her she was.

It’s the passion Dr. Daut brings to her subject. You’ll hear that in her voice. Her scholarship is world-class, undisputed, and foundational. She is the best of us.

For this episode, she focuses on the influential life and works of the Haitian political writer and statesman, Baron de Vastey (1781-1820). Dr. Marlene L. Daut examines the legacy of Vastey’s extensive writings as a form of what she calls black Atlantic humanism, a discourse devoted to attacking the enlightenment foundations of colonialism.

Why does colonialism have to be attacked? Well, the answer is kinda obvious if looked at through our modern eyes and sensibilities. However, for Baron de Vastey to talk about the evils of colonialism in the early 1800s, during the most profitable period of slavery, took courage and was unique and unprecedented at the time, especially since it came from the first African descended nation in the modern world.

You’ll hear Marlene Daut argue that Baron de Vastey, the most important secretary of Haiti’s King Henry Christophe, was a pioneer in a tradition of deconstructing colonial racism and colonial slavery that is much more closely associated with twentieth-century writers like W.E.B. Du Bois, Frantz Fanon, and Aimé Césaire.

By expertly forging exciting new historical and theoretical connections among Vastey and these later twentieth-century writers, as well as eighteenth- and nineteenth-century black Atlantic authors, such as Phillis Wheatley, Olaudah Equiano, William Wells Brown, and Harriet Jacobs, Prof. Daut proves that any understanding of the genesis of Afro-diasporic thought must include Haiti’s Baron de Vastey.

Key Terms

Baron de Vastey —Noel Colombel —Haiti’s Isolation —Regeneration —Haiti’s Kingdom vs. Haiti the Republic —Edouard Glissant’s Theory of Opacity —The Unmediated Agency of Early Haitian Writings —Black Atlantic Humanism —Earliest formulations of what would later become CRT