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On January 1, 1804, Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared the independence of Haiti, thus bringing to an end the only successful slave revolution in history and transforming the colony of Saint-Domingue into the second independent state in the Western Hemisphere. The historical significance of the Haitian Revolution has been addressed by numerous scholars, but the importance of the Revolution as a cultural and political phemen has only begun to be explored.Although the path-breaking work of Michel-Rolph Trouillot and Sibylle Fischer has illustrated the profound silences surrounding the Haitian Revolution in Western historiography and in Caribbean cultural production in the aftermath of the revolution, contributors to this volume argue that, while suppressed and disavowed in some quarters, the Haitian Revolution netheless had an enduring cultural and political impact, particularly on peoples and communities that have been marginalized in the historical record and absent from the discourses of Western historiography. Tree of Liberty interrogates the literary, historical, and political discourses that the Revolution produced and inspired across time and space and across national and linguistic boundaries. In so doing, it seeks to initiate a far-reaching discussion of the revolution as a cultural and political phemen that shaped ideas about the Enlightenment, freedom, postcolonialism, and race in the modern Atlantic world.
Doris L. Garraway is Associate Professor of French at Northwestern University and the author of The Libertine Colony: Creolization in the Early French Caribbean.