ANTB20H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Polysemy, West African Vodun, Indep

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Published on 5 Jan 2015
School
UTSC
Department
Anthropology
Course
ANTB20H3
THE DEVIL BEHIND THE MIRROR
Chapter 5: Race, Identity, and the Body Politic
POWER, KNOWLEDGE, AND THE CRAFTING OF SUBJECTIVITY
Gérard uses narratives to craft relat’s w/ potent. clients f/ his tour guide business
 purpose of writing a/b him: Gérard’s u/st of cultural polities of Haitian identity in B.C. (167)
-he struggled to be something other than what he was
 this struggle was economic trying to make a living u/d unfavourable circumstances
 aggravated by prob. of trying to created identity/self where being Haitian “overdetermined
one’s location w/i the division of labour and also the nature of one’s being”
 polit. + econ. Dominican elites as a whole “master trope of blackness” has no
existing/ontological resistance
(170) “When Hassim was four years old, Gérard’s wife was killed in political violence
while visiting relatives in Haiti, leaving him a single parent. As was the case with much of what I
knew about Gérard, there were alternative versions of this story. A Dominican woman and
mutual friend told me that Gérard had spent his early years in the D.R. trafficking drugs and
other contraband across the Haitian border. In her version of the story, Gérard’s wife was
murdered in a drug-related robbery. The two versions of this story, not unlike much what was
publicly believed about Gérard, represented two discursive poles in a politics of rumour and
gossip about Haitians in general and Gérard in particular that revealed more about the
speaker’s social relations and politics than the “truth”. Because Gérard was viewed by Haitians
and Dominicans alike as an astute and relatively successful man of ambiguous origins, he was
a lightning rod for gossip.”
Rumour + gossip concerning one’s identity and appearance could influence
police/authority actions just as influential as “papers”
common that percept. of being Haitian --. deportation even if papers say Domin. (6,000
elderly + children dep. to Haiti, many born in D.R., 1991 expulsion decree)
Gérard gets fake papers ‘cédula’ to be entitled to get birth certificate f/ son who can then
go to public school and get public service help via social network
(171) As identity (racial, ethnic, linguistic) was linked to social mobility, both real and
imagined, its crafting was a status-bearing claim (172) to prestige and prerogatives across the
hierarchal landscape of the zona turistica and the world beyond
 those w/ weak claims to citizenship fabricated transnat. pasts patterned a/f migration
experiences and transnat. networks of others
 Richard: tells people on beach and author he was raised by Af. Amer. grandmother in Harlem
returned to B.C. to help parents but really was raised by a grandmother in Haiti where he went
to a school to learn English therefore accent good enough to make claim to being Af. American
+ likes hip hop and hip hop culture
 keeps in touch w/ Af. Americans abroad who when visit D.R. employ his services
*acts of self-representat. had important econ. and polit. conseq’s w/i the tourism econ. and
nation as a whole
(172) “This exercise of the imagination ..enabled by the cir. of mass-mediated black cult.
forms and by the growing commerce in tourist of Af. descent disrupted and challenged the elite-
driven fusing /conflation of blackness w/ Haitian identity, constructed both as ext. to the nation
and as pathologically
Gérard: convinced people he was Dominican because of his strong Spanish; through
that no one Haitian could speak Spanish as well as a D.R. (one motoconcho said)
-to appeal to interests/desires/fantasies of his clients, selectively stressed and fabricated
elements of his past
 ID’d w/ Rastaf. culture + philos. w/ English-language dealings w/ people would stimulate a
Jamaican accent, add in Rastafarian dialect  therefore people though is father be Jamaican or
Jam. American (171)
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THE DEVIL BEHIND THE MIRROR
Chapter 5: Race, Identity, and the Body Politic
Jean Paul gets his money stolen from Marlene --. steals her purse  cops nab her and he
flees  Jean requests Gérard to accomp. him to the police station to see if she was arrested or
filed a complaint on her own (JP wanted to file a complaint against her too)
 Marks (Gérard) Marlene as a negrita (black woman)and a Haitian positioning himself as a
Dom. on the side of the law
 manipulates linguistic and visual cues by which people, recog. ethnic ID’s
Gérard speaks to his son Hassim in English and kreyol only, not Spanish b/c “you live in
this country [but] your roots are in Haiti”  if he goes to England or Haiti won’t have trouble
adapting
Communal, ethical obligat. took on urgency in context where Haitians lacked citizenship
rights and access to state instit’s
 “Rather than pursue legal action or confront Marlene directly, Gérard appealed to a sense of
justice that rooted in ethnic solidarity and enforced through gossip, would shame her into
making things right. By prompting me in public to compensate JP, G. had injected me...into the
web of reciprocally reckoned rights, obligat’s, and exchanges that shaped social relations a/m
Haitians in particular and the labouring poor in general”
RACE, LABOUR, AND THE CULTURAL POLITICS OF HAITIAN IDENTITY
“This ‘Americanization’ of the border, supported by a host of border control legislation,
incited a differentiation of the heterogeneous frontier population with respect to formal
citizenship, language, and “invisible codes of difference,” which would be opportunistically
invoked in anti-Haitian discourses (Derby 1994: 502). “As the border began to be seen as the
skin of the a body politic but one all too frequently seen by capitalist elites as bleeding into Haiti”
(500). That the border-lands economy was oriented toward Haiti and dominated by Haitian
merchants, many of whom were women, gave rise to a gendered valuation of the Haitian threat
according to which Haitians were seen “as very embodiment of money magic’ and as “social
filth” - a threat to both the integrity of the economy and the body politic (489). This unstable,
polysemic constructon of Haitians as possessing a mystical, hence illegitimate, econ. agency -
one coded as aggressively female - informed elite interpretat’s of the Haitian presence in Adrés
-B.C. as well.”
A/f D.R. independence, nationalists began working on a national ID
 racial ID’s + ideologies were structured as indep. nation as being integ. into an econ. syst.
dom. by US and Europe had to comply to the long-standing and firm “white supremacy”
Yet Haitian labour was advocated f/ by the US (1900) against wishes of Dom.
nationalists (180)
1937 massacre of Haitians by Dom. forces
 campaign a/f this by Trujillo went into public edu. and other institut’s (181)
Post-Trujillo era = expulsion policies
 1991 - 6 thous. migrants and of descent  provoked another 25, 000 to leave
AN AFRICAN THING”: HAITIANS AND THE SOCIAL DIVISION OF LABOUR
Haitian works in B.C. clustered in gendered occupational niches elite views concerning
the quality and value of Hait. labour instantiated assessments shaped by their exploitation as
cane cutters and elite attititudes twrd race
Hairbraiding seen as an “African thing”; situating skill and style in ancestral origins
 performed best by Haitians  attribute. this to cult. and aesthetic rather than racial
distinctiveness
Haitian painters had a unique style of painting  most learnt in the D.R. to paint vs. belief
of an “art academy” in Port-au-Prince
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Document Summary

G rard uses narratives to craft relat"s w/ potent. clients f/ his tour guide business (170) when hassim was four years old, g rard"s wife was killed in political violence. Rumour + gossip concerning one"s identity and appearance could influence common that percept. of being haitian --. deportation even if papers say domin. (6,000. Purpose of writing a/b him: g rard"s u/st of cultural polities of haitian identity in b. c. (167) He struggled to be something other than what he was. This struggle was economic trying to make a living u/d unfavourable circumstances. Aggravated by prob. of trying to created identity/self where being haitian overdetermined one"s location w/i the division of labour and also the nature of one"s being . Dominican elites as a whole master trope of blackness has no existing/ontological resistance while visiting relatives in haiti, leaving him a single parent.

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