Stirring the Pot of Haitian History is the first-ever translation of Ti difé boulé sou istoua Ayiti (1977), the earliest book written by renowned Haitian anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot. Challenging understandings of two centuries of Haitian history, Trouillot incisively analyses the pivotal role of Haitian ex-slave 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 self-serving political culture and the racial mythologizing of historical figures such as Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Toussaint Louverture, André Rigaud and Alexandre Pétion. Trouillot examines the socio-economic and political contradictions and inequalities within the French colony of Saint-Domingue, traces the unravelling of the racist class system after 1790, and argues that Vodou and Haitian Creole language provided the underlying cultural cohesion and resistance that led Haiti to independence, which stands as an incomplete project as does every independence project.
This groundbreaking book blends Marxist criticism with Haiti's rich oral storytelling traditions to provide a tongue-in-cheek and earthy account of Haitian political thought rooted in the style and culture of Haitian Creole speakers. Each chapter opens with a verse, song or proverb that pulls the reader into an informal oral performance. Proverbs, word plays, and songs from popular culture and Vodou religion are interspersed with explorations of complex social and political realities and historical hypotheses.
In a nation where the Haitian Creole majority language is still marginalized in government and education, Ti difé boulé 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 insinuate themselves within the contemporary moment—will provide readers with a one-of-a-kind Haitian perspective on Haitian revolutionary history and its legacies.