Examining the West Indies Federation during the twentieth century against the backdrop of the US occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934 shows the complex roots of decolonization and helps us understand the occupation as a foundational event for the twentieth-century Caribbean imaginary, much as the Haitian Revolution was for the nineteenth. The occupation is usually considered only in relation to its impacts in Haiti and the United States, but Haiti’s symbolic significance meant that its occupation shaped the perspectives of Caribbean people throughout the region. Major thinkers of federation, particularly Richard B. Moore and George Padmore, developed their political perspectives through responses to the occupation. We can thus see the questioning of nation-state independence and the critique of neocolonialism (as a form of US economic imperialism allied with elites in the neocolony) emerge from the lessons of Haiti’s occupation.
Regionalism, Imperialism, and Sovereignty: West Indies Federation and the Occupation of Haiti
Raphael Dalleo is professor of English at Bucknell University. His book American Imperialism’s Undead: The Occupation of Haiti and the Rise of Caribbean Anticolonialism (2016) won the Caribbean Studies Association’s 2017 Gordon K. and Sibyl Lewis Award for best book. His is a coauthor of The Latino/a Canon and the Emergence of Post-Sixties Literature (2007), the author of Caribbean Literature and the Public Sphere (2011), a coeditor of Haiti and the Americas (2013), and the editor of Bourdieu, and Postcolonial Studies (2016).
Raphael Dalleo; Regionalism, Imperialism, and Sovereignty: West Indies Federation and the Occupation of Haiti. Small Axe 1 March 2020; 24 (1 (61)): 61–68. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-8190577
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