Book Overview

Intimate Bonds: Family and Slavery in the French Atlantic by Jennifer L. Palmer

Jennifer Palmer’s Intimate Bonds: Family and Slavery in the French Atlantic offers a new perspective on slavery and gender in the 18th century by including La Rochelle and the west province of Saint-Domingue into an integrative analysis. Palmer’s main contention is a focus on the different forms of intimacy existing between white men and white women as well as free people of color and slaves to illustrate how these ties could be used to push against or strengthen ruling practices, particularly those that monitored racial categorization. Using examples of Rochelais families, often of Protestant extraction, and how their own gender, racial, and economic interests fluctuated in response to slavery and the hardening of racial boundaries, Palmer’s compels the reader to include gender in understanding the shifting views on race, slavery, and family in France and Saint-Domingue. Furthermore, her investigation of slavery in France provides a novel approach.

A particular weakness of Palmer’s analysis, however, lies in the lack of detail pertaining to creole slaves and bossales in terms of plantations and urban slavery in Saint-Domingue. Palmer successfully contextualizes white women as economic agents and slaveholders in colonial society and analyzes their relationships with their slaves and free people of color, but not enough attention is paid to how slaves of African origin and those born in Saint-Domingue related to each other via gender relations, hierarchies, and other bonds of intimacy. A similarly rich examination of intra-slave gender nuances would have made this a fuller text while showing how African influences shaped social formations and structures within the colonial society, not to mention any possible areas of convergence between French Protestant or Roman Catholic social forms. 


Inspiring. Despite Hurricane Matthew destroying his home and school in Haiti, Dicejour has big plans for the future.

anonymous asked:

I was curious.. does haiti still recognize mulattoes and black people as two separate races like the dr, cuba, and brasil do or is it more just colorism?

Hello, many thanks for your question although it seems to be more concerned with contemporary Haiti than with history per say.

The question of colour in Haiti was/is complex and depending on the period (and the speaker) I would not be very conformable talking about different “races” (unless, of course, we went on to define race as it was understood as a political and social category in Haiti and historicize the processes that made such categorizations possible). 

Now, as to whether it is used today (as a “legal” and political category compared to other Latin American countries, as I believe this is your question), I would say that in official discourses, it is not. I think we can all agree that in this post-Duvalier period, given the centrality that took the colour question in the past era, very few people today would venture in this route (although transgressions are not impossible). 

Today, on more societal and cultural levels, while we could argue that at least in some circles “blacks” and “mulattoes” do constitute different entities, to say that the two are viewed as representing separate “races” might not be exactly accurate. (I mean here that while the two are indeed used, they seem to be utilized to mark social differentiation and maybe not “race” in the way that it would be comprehended today in the United States.) 

*Interestingly enough, Haiti-Reference (which is not exactly a “scholarly site” but still one that is very respected and usually has up to date and accurate information) lists in its Fact Sheet on Haiti that there are two “ethnic groups” in the country that is, blacks and mulattoes.  While we cannot use Haiti-Reference as a state-sanctioned source or as something that is necessarily representative of how most Haitians feel, I still believe that it offers us a small window into how Haitians (notably in Haiti) view their world. The use of ethnicity instead of race appears significant and revealing (again, granted that we investigate what those words might mean in different Haitian contexts).

The book has many problems and I do think that the author might be overstating his case at times but I would still recommend reviewing From Dessalines to Duvalier: Race, Colour and National Independence in Haiti by David Nicholls which has become a classic. You can also see our reading suggestions on Color, Class and Race in Haiti.

I will ask admin C to update this post if he can point to more recent scholarship on this question but I would advise to stay critical of the positionality of the authors as we know American and English-speaking authors do tend to have different sensibilities when discussing race (– sensibilities – I might add, that may differ from that of Haitians). 

I hope this somewhat answered your question!

Once again, DO NOT donate to the huge scam aka Red Cross to support relief/humanitarian efforts of Haiti in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. We all remember what the Red Cross did with the $500 million it received to build houses after the earthquake in Haiti back in 2010.

Haitian-led orgs you can contribute to directly for relief efforts: Konbit Mizik, Haiti Communitere, ACFFC, Sakala Haiti, SOIL, Fondation Aquin Solidarité , Volontariat pour le Développement d'Haïti, Lambi Fund, MADRE, Sowaseed, Konbit Solèy Leve, Sakala

Non-Haitian Orgs with proven track records in Haiti: Doctors without Borders, Roots of Development, Partners in Health, Border of Lights, Nova Hope for Haiti


The magnitude of the devastation that the Hurricane Matthew left in Haiti became clear on Saturday, three days after the storm that struck the south of the country leaving more than 900 dead. About one million people need urgent help.

Haitians Protest Outside Hillary Clinton’s Office Over ‘Billions Stolen’ by Clinton Foundation

Haitian activists protested outside of the Clinton Foundation in New York over the loss of “billions of dollars” that was meant to help rebuild after the devastating 2010 earthquake.

The activists are claiming the money was stolen through the Haiti Reconstruction Commission that was headed by Bill Clinton. In January 2015, the Clinton Foundation was the target of protests for wasting more than $10 billion and awarding contracts to non-Haitian companies.

The activists also said Haiti as a cover for foreign governments to funnel kickbacks of hundreds of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation. They believe that this was done for favors that Hillary was doing for the foreign governments while she was Secretary of State.

“We are telling the world of the crimes that Bill and Hillary Clinton are responsible for in Haiti,” said Dhoud Andre of the Committee Against Dictatorship in Haiti. “And we are telling the American people that the over 32,000 emails that Hillary Clinton said she deleted have evidence of the crimes they have committed.”

Five years later, a majority of Haiti is still in disrepair. The capital’s main hospital has yet to be finished, and there is a major rise of cholera. The Clinton Foundation said progress is being made especially in Haiti’s economic and tourist industries.
The UN has admitted that it played a role in the cholera outbreak in Haiti
By Fiona MacDonald

The United Nations (UN) has finally acknowledged that it played a role in the cholera outbreak in Haiti that began nearly six years ago, and has killed thousands of people, and infected almost 800,000.

The Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, admitted for the first time last week that the organisation was involved in starting the outbreak, and “needs to do much more” to fix the problem.

But a confidential internal report obtained by The New York Times took things one step further, concluding that the epidemic “would not have broken out but for the actions of the United Nations”.

Read more…