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Organization, Regulations, and Courses 2022-23

HIST 92.07 Black Agrarian Democracy: Haitian History from Revolution to the Fall of the Duvalier Dictatorship

The course explores the historical struggle between democracy and authoritarianism in Haiti throughout its two hundred seventeen years of independence as a free black nation, which also makes the island one of the oldest sovereign countries in the Western Hemisphere. To understand the island’s history, students are expected to read what historians and writers have written about Haiti; and to read the primary letters of frantic French planters, rebellious African slaves, egalitarian peasants, entrepreneurial market women, conscientious revolutionaries, exuberant military generals, loquacious politicians, feared dictators, and dreaded militias through time. The course will, indeed, move through four important, though overlapping, historical moments. First, we begin with an examination of the 1791-1804 Haitian Revolution when enslaved Africans revolted against the French colonial planters to successfully abolish slavery and to achieve national independence. Second, we read through the formation of grassroots and institutional democratic traditions in the nineteenth century and how they were undone during the 1915-1934 US Occupation of Haiti, where US President Woodrow Wilson ordered the American military to invade Haiti and control the island for almost two decades. Third, we will explore how the undoing of democracy led to the rise of the Francois and Jean-Claude Duvalier dictatorship (1957-1971) and its dreaded militia called the tonton makout militia (often spelled in the following French orthography: tonton macoutes). Finally, we will conclude the class by looking at how and why the Haitian peasantry overthrew the dictatorship to replace it with the democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (1991).



Cross Listed Courses

AAAS 61.05 LACS 039

Degree Requirement Attributes

Dist:SOC; WCult:NW

The Timetable of Class Meetings contains the most up-to-date information about a course. It includes not only the meeting time and instructor, but also its official distributive and/or world culture designation. This information supersedes any information you may see elsewhere, to include what may appear in this ORC/Catalog or on a department/program website. Note that course attributes may change term to term therefore those in effect are those (only) during the term in which you enroll in the course.

Department-Specific Course Categories

Class of 2023 and Before Major Dist: AALAC; Class of 2024 and Beyond Major Dist: Latin America and the Caribbean, modern.


  • Summer