Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Latin American Studies

Reader 1

Cindy Forster

Reader 2

Marie Denise-Shelton

Reader 3

Rita Roberts

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My thesis explores the development of racial capitalism in Saint Domingue, today’s Haiti, and how different sectors of colonial society handled and worked with the tools they were given by their oppressors. By “tools,” I mean the ideology of race that devalues and degrades Blackness and gives value to whiteness. Though I am using terms of race, it is impossible to separate racial politics from economics. The scope of my thesis is within the early modern period starting with European and specifically French travel writers from the 1500s on until right after the Haitian Revolution. The investigation is relatively chronological starting from how elites, the maritime bourgeoisie, and French bureaucracy, developed an ideology that promoted racialized difference and hierarchy. I then go into how different sectors of colonial Saint Domingue worked to maintain this ideology, even if it worked against their own interests. Finally, I discuss the distinct ways in which the post-revolutionary government and formerly enslaved people shaped their freedom.