Front cover image for Modernity disavowed : Haiti and the cultures of slavery in the age of revolution

Modernity disavowed : Haiti and the cultures of slavery in the age of revolution

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
Print Book, English, 2004
Duke University Press, Durham, 2004
xiii, 364 pages : illustrations, maps ; 23 cm
9780822332527, 9780822332909, 0822332523, 0822332906
Truncations of modernity
The deadly hermeneutics of the trial of José Antonio Aponte
Civilization and barbarism : Cuban wall painting
Beyond national culture, the abject : the case of Plácido
Cuban antislavery narratives and the origins of literary discourse
Memory, trauma, history
Guilt and betrayal in Santo Domingo
What do the Haitians want?
Fictions of literary history
Literature and the theater of revolution
"General liberty or The planters in Paris"
Foundational fictions : postrevolutionary constitutions I
Life in the kingdom of the north
Liberty and reason of state : postrevolutionary constitutions II
Appendix: The Haitian Constitution of 1805
"A John Hope Franklin Center book." Electronic access restricted; authentication may be required