Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis


Politics and International Relations

Second Department

French Studies

Reader 1

Steven Samford

Reader 2

Marie Denise Shelton

Rights Information

© 2014 Elizabeth McElvein


In this thesis, I seek to understand the historical process by which Haiti has become a site of economic exploitation and labor coercion. I identify a remarkable continuity in the justification of economic oppression at three historical junctures: the reestablishment of plantation production under Toussaint Louverture in 1800, the agrarian development projects implemented by the American occupation 1918 and 1929, and the IMF agricultural liberalization measures implemented in between 1986/87 and 1993/94. I argue that a violent and chronically unstable juxtaposition between “civilized” elites and “uncivilized” masses creates and sustains a political system of brutal exploitation. A racialized logic lies at the heart of the civilization fantasy and maintains the economic, political and cultural configurations of peasant and proletariat oppression in Haiti.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.