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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Political Science

Year Degree Awarded

2017

Month Degree Awarded

September

First Advisor

Carlene J. Edie, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Dean Robinson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

John Higginson, Ph.D.

Subject Categories

International and Area Studies | Latin American Studies | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

This dissertation posits that the fragility of the Haitian state emerges from a key disjuncture from the state crafted by Northern Louverturean elites during and after the struggle for independence. Louverturean elites crafted a strong state that incorporated and regulated all national cleavages and interests as the basis for legitimacy and stability. This state secured their interests while regulating their capacity to circumvent the interests of other cleavages. Most importantly, it secured the rights of former slaves on whose exploitation other cleavages depended. The destruction of the Louverturean state by neocolonial elites and imposition of a neocolonial national state estranged from the majority of the population lacked the requisite legitimacy. The shift from the Louverturean state to one diametrically opposed to the interests of the majority of its citizens disregarded the integrative and protective measures upon which the Louverturean state secured its legitimacy.

Despite multiple attempts to reconstitute the Louverturean state, it was the neocolonial national state that was consolidated during the American occupation. Following his election in 1957, Francois Duvalier returned to the Louverturean state model by incorporating the Black masses and middle class, expanding the public sector, protecting the sovereignty and autonomy of the nation, regulating commerce, and breaking neocolonial Mulatto stranglehold. Though successful, he was constrained by the existing state structure.

Arguing that the American Occupation consolidated, centralized, and enhanced the state’s capacity to support neocolonial elites’ historical exploitative schemes, this study suggests that by consolidating the neocolonial national state historically deficient in legitimacy and popular support, the Occupation accentuated its disconnection from the population and its institutional and political deficiencies created the conditions for contemporary instability and state failure.

Contemporary political studies of Haiti offer a linear, unidimensional, and incomplete analysis of the Haitian state ignoring Louverturean statecraft. Analyzing Haitian political history and state crafting before, during and after the American Occupation is necessary to understand its contemporary challenges, and its search for democratic accountability. Such an analysis demands an understanding of the centrality of Louverturean statecraft.

Comments

This work offers a framework for the study of Haitian state formation and postcolonial state formation. It argues that understanding postcolonial states as state-nations provides a stronger framework for understanding postcolonial state formation that can provide an effective vehicle for addressing state crises through statecraft

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