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Modernity Disavowed: Haiti and the Cultures of Slavery in the Age of Revolution

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Modernity Disavowed is a pathbreaking study of the cultural, political, and philosophical significance of the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804). Revealing how the radical antislavery politics of this seminal event have been suppressed and ignored in historical and cultural records over the past two hundred years, Sibylle Fischer contends that revolutionary antislavery and its subsequent disavowal are central to the formation and understanding of Western modernity. She develops a powerful argument that the denial of revolutionary antislavery eventually became a crucial ingredient in a range of hegemonic thought, including Creole nationalism in the Caribbean and G. W. F. Hegel’s master-slave dialectic.

Fischer draws on history, literary scholarship, political theory, philosophy, and psychoanalytic theory to examine a range of material, including Haitian political and legal documents and nineteenth-century Cuban and Dominican literature and art. She demonstrates that at a time when racial taxonomies were beginning to mutate into scientific racism and racist biology, the Haitian revolutionaries recognized the question of race as political. Yet, as the cultural records of neighboring Cuba and the Dominican Republic show, the story of the Haitian Revolution has been told as one outside politics and beyond human language, as a tale of barbarism and unspeakable violence. From the time of the revolution onward, the story has been confined to the margins of history: to rumors, oral histories, and confidential letters. Fischer maintains that without accounting for revolutionary antislavery and its subsequent disavowal, Western modernity—including its hierarchy of values, depoliticization of social goals having to do with racial differences, and privileging of claims of national sovereignty—cannot be fully understood.

Synopsis:

A study of the ways that knowledge of the slave revolt in Haiti was denied/repressed/disavowed within the network of slave-owning states and plantation societies of the New World, and the effects and meaning of this disavowal.

About the Author

Sibylle Fischer is Associate Professor of Literature and Romance Studies at Duke University.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780822332909
Author:
Fischer, Sibylle
Publisher:
Duke University Press
Author:
Fischer
Location:
Durham
Subject:
History
Subject:
Blacks
Subject:
Haiti
Subject:
Literature and history
Subject:
Slavery in literature
Subject:
Slave insurrections.
Subject:
Caribbean & West Indies - General
Subject:
Caribbean & West Indies
Subject:
World History-Caribbean
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Series:
John Hope Franklin Center Book
Series Volume:
no. 36
Publication Date:
20040431
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
10 illus., 4 maps
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
9.5 x 6.5 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » World History » Caribbean
History and Social Science » World History » General
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Environment

Modernity Disavowed: Haiti and the Cultures of Slavery in the Age of Revolution New Trade Paper
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Product details 384 pages Duke University Press - English 9780822332909 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
A study of the ways that knowledge of the slave revolt in Haiti was denied/repressed/disavowed within the network of slave-owning states and plantation societies of the New World, and the effects and meaning of this disavowal.
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