Stirring the Pot of Haitian History
Author: Michel-Rolph Trouillot
Translators: Mariana Past and Benjamin Hebblethwaite
Editors: Mariana Past and Benjamin Hebblethwaite
Stirring the Pot of Haitian History is the first-ever translation of Ti dife boule sou istoua Ayiti (1977), the earliest book written by Haitian anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot. Challenging understandings of two centuries of Haitian history, Trouillot analyzes the pivotal role of formerly enslaved Haitian revolutionaries in the Revolution and War of Independence (1791–1804), a generation of people who became the founders of the modern Haitian state and advanced the vibrant culture that flourishes in Haiti.
This book confronts Haiti’s political culture and the racial mythologizing of historical figures such as Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Toussaint Louverture, Andre Rigaud, and Alexandre Petion. Trouillot examines the socio-economic and political contradictions and inequalities within the French colony of Saint-Domingue, traces the unraveling of the racist class system after 1790, and argues that Vodou and the Haitian Creole language provided the underlying cultural cohesion and resistance that led Haiti to independence.
This groundbreaking book blends Marxist criticism with Haiti’s rich oral storytelling traditions to provide a playful yet incisive account of Haitian political thought that is rooted in the style and culture of Haitian Creole speakers. Proverbs, wordplay, and songs from popular culture and Vodou religion are interspersed with explorations of complex social and political realities and historical hypotheses; readers are thus drawn into a captivating oral performance.
In a nation where the Haitian Creole majority language is still marginalized in government and education, Ti dife boule leaps out as a major contribution in the effort to expand Haitian Creole scholarship. Stirring the Pot of Haitian History holds a significant place in the expanding canon of Caribbean literature. The English translation of Trouillot’s first book—showing how historical problems continue to reverberate within the contemporary moment—provides readers with a one-of-a-kind Haitian perspective on Haitian revolutionary history and its legacies.
Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. Stirring the Pot of Haitian History. Translated and edited by Mariana Past and Benjamin Hebblethwaite. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2021.