Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Publication Date



In line with the Haitian proverb withing my title, I will attempt to reveal that "to speak French does not necessarily mean that you are smart!" by using a postcolonial analysis to elaborate on the role of language in shaping identity and power in Haiti. this broader objective will require that I elucidate on how language constructs and is constructed by modern society through its usage as both a constitutive and communicative practice and as a geo-political and cultural identity marker. Understanding the postcolonial condition of language in the Haitian context is a complex endeavor because it requires a broader understanding of the strategic function and engagement of language with various eurocentric global discourses, namely colonialism, nationalism and development. These discourses are central to the language, identity and power construct because they have had and still continue to bear a lasting impact on the way in which we conceptualize and categorize the world order. Furthermore, each evolved and were deployed based on eurocentric rationalities that were substantiated by claims of power, knowledge and domination. Lastly, the constellations of power that shaped these discourses continuously placed the Haitian nation in a subaltern position., first as a slave colony, then a Third world nation and finally, as under-developed. Hence, I will argue that these systems of power, knowledge and representation when contextualized, result in a postcolonial condition for language that binds identity and power within racial/ethnic ideologies of power. In the case of Haiti, an examination of the socio-historical construction of the political and educational discourses revealed a direct engagement with the global ideologies of power. Consequently, within these systems, French symbolically embodied the dominant facet of the classifications of power while Creole absorbed all of the subaltern positions that the systems produced. Thus, the linguistic landscape of the country reveals a direct engagement with both global and local relations of power or discourses and thus elucidates the complexities and complicities within them. This recognition provides a complex and grounded appreciation of the social relations that exists within the country and the role of language in shaping and maintaining these structures and conversely, the role of society in producing and upholding the linguistic dualism within Haiti.