Divergent Trajectories of Unification: Dominican Elites, Free Blacks, and the State in Santo Domingo under Haitian Rule, 1822–44

AHA Session 105
Conference on Latin American History 22
Friday, January 6, 2017: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Room 403 (Colorado Convention Center, Meeting Room Level)
Charlton Yingling, University of South Carolina
Anne Eller, Yale University

Session Abstract

In February 1822, the Haitian state under president Jean-Pierre Boyer proclaimed emancipation in neighboring Santo Domingo, marking the final end of slavery in the territory and inaugurating a twenty-two year long period of political unification. Yet the eastern residents who witnessed the arrival of the Haitian president and the western soldiers who accompanied him could not have known whether the union – or the freedom it promised – would endure. The papers in this panel explore the organization of communities and the production of elite discourse under new government in the Age of Revolutions. We ask, what forms of labor emerged to replace slavery, and what does their implementation reveal about the daily experiences of Santo Domingo residents and the meanings of freedom during the period? How did former slaves, state officials, and local elites contribute to island-wide debates about post-emancipation society and national independence? The panelists analyze the political events and competing interpretations of the Haitian Unification without treating the dissolution of the union (or, conversely, its longevity) as inevitable. They emphasize the unstable nature of identities and processes under new government: the gradient between slave and free person, state and local power, and Dominican and Haitian nationality. By examining the extension of Haitian law and sovereignty on the ground in Santo Domingo, the panelists contribute to a growing body of scholarship on the wider impact and ongoing challenges of post-revolutionary Haitian state formation in the Atlantic World.
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