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‘A series of marvellous resurrections’: afterlives of the Haitian revolution

Hodgson, K.J.; (2010) ‘A series of marvellous resurrections’: afterlives of the Haitian revolution. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Processes of commemoration, national 'lieux de mémoire', and the incessant dialogue between past and present in Haitian literature and culture form the subject of my thesis. I will examine how the Haitian revolution constitutes a pivotal forum for the construction of a national identity, tracing an epic tradition of revolutionary heroes in Haitian writing from the nineteenth century to the 2004 bicentenary celebrations. Proceeding from the assertion of Michel-Rolph Trouillot in Silencing the Past (1996) that the history of Haiti has been obscured due to the 'unthinkable' nature of the revolution, I will advance the theory that Haitian writing, in addressing its own national past, has always been concerned with questions of collective memory, the problem of historical representation and the production, preservation and dissemination of shared cultural resonances, particularly those that evoke the Haitian revolution. In examining the ways in which the revolution returns to haunt the present, I shall address problems of distortion, blurring, misrepresentation and manipulation, to which the omnipresent revolutionary past is particularly vulnerable. I will also examine literary strategies for exposing and combatting this 'erosion' of collective memory, focusing on new contexts in which the afterlives and spectres of the national past have developed in contemporary Haitian writing, often constituting an uneasy textual presence by unhinging the present into which they are projected. Examples of revolutionary 'lieux de mémoire' which will constitute a focus of enquiry of the thesis will include literary representations of Dessalines, the 'fondateur' of the nation, the heroic model of the revolutionary martyr, the statuification of the 'unknown maroon', and the commemoration of the 1804 declaration of independence. The thesis will examine the act of commemoration itself, as it marks a milestone in the continuing afterlives of the revolution and constitutes a strategy in the ongoing process of remembering the past.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: ‘A series of marvellous resurrections’: afterlives of the Haitian revolution
Language: English
Additional information: Authorisation for digitisation not received
UCL classification:
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/19986
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