Silenced in hegemonic historiography, the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) was one of the key transformations of the Age of Revolution. As the first & only successful slave revolution & one of the first anti-colonial revolutions in modern history, it has mounted multiple challenges to the transatlantic colonial economy and hegemonic North Atlantic ideologies which continue to assume the cultural superiority of Europe & the USA. Through their double act of revolutionary self-emancipation from slavery and colonialism, the Afro-Caribbean slaves radicalised both the French Revolution & the European Enlightenment. For they challenged & extended the limited scope of Rights of Man as they exposed & removed its race and class limitations: a milestone towards universal human rights.
The interdisciplinary project aligns itself theoretically with (re)-appraisal of the centrality of the Haitian Revolution to transatlantic history and modernity, as it is displayed in the recent ‘Haitian Turn’ in transatlantic studies & by earlier radical black theorists and activist. It will trace the genealogy of the ‘Haitian Gothic’ in the transatlantic discourse from 1791 to the present. It understands it as a broader, powerful rhetorical-political mode that operates across a wide range of medial genres (literature, political articles, pamphlets, histories, visual representations e.g. caricatures & films). Its working hypothesis posits that the continuing ‘gothicisation’ of Haiti, its history & its people forms a reaction to the profound challenges that HR has posed to the hegemonic transatlantic political, economic and ideological (neo)-colonial order. It distinguishes between the ‘hegemonic Haitian Gothic’ that demonises Haiti & its revolution & the ‘radical Haitian Gothic’ that appropriates the Gothic to extol the radically emancipatory nature of the Haitian Revolution.
UCLAN with its world-class researchers in transatlantic studies (e.g. Prof. Rice) provides an ideal host institution.