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Abstract

This essay analyzes popular Haitian tales about sovereign theft by stealth which seek to expose machinations of graft and usurpation by outsiders and politicians. The foundational act for this genre of popular narratives in Haiti I argue is the indemnity that the Haitian State was forced to pay France of 150 million francs in exchange for international recognition to compensate for losses in property incurred by the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804) which Haitian statesman Frédéric Marcelin described as an “act of dispossession.” But popular rumors of national theft kept returning. I argue that these stories linking sovereignty, debt, and theft represent truth claims on the part of those who have long been “hermeneutically marginalized” and should be seen as a call for testimonial justice that challenges the triumphalist story of Haitian independence through revealing and denouncing deceitful chicanery on the part of those in power.

Open Access
In: New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids

Abstract

This essay examines popular narratives that a spirit demon or bacá lurked in an export garment plant in the Santiago trade zone of the Dominican Republic in the early 2000s. By interpreting the bacá story, and the transformation of the bacá itself from a rural context to an urban factory, we unpack the changing nature and meaning of employment under neoliberal capitalism, and tease apart complex geographies of status, exploitation, technology and debt.

Open Access
In: New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids