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Leon D. Pamphile
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Spanning some 200 years of relations between Haiti and African Americans, Pamphile's study is valuable for its thorough grounding in primary material, offering especially detailed treatments of 19th-century relations. He examines perceptions of Haiti in the United States during the debate over emancipation and slavery in the first half of that century and Haiti's role as a model in the struggle for liberation and then an asylum for many escaping oppression in the United States.
His treatment of the decades from emancipation into the early 20th century, as descendants of African slaves struggled for legitimacy and respect in the post-slavery setting, is similarly meticulous. He highlights efforts to rehabilitate and elevate the black communities as well as dilemmas posed to African American leaders who defended Haitian independence during the U.S. occupation of 1915-34 and then sought to promote economic development on the island. He also treats relations between Haitian Americans and African Americans in major U.S. cities and traces the changing view of African American leaders toward Haiti during the Duvalier and post-Duvalier period as well as the role played by African American leaders in the U.S.-Haiti policy debate.
Pamphile demonstrates that Haiti and the African American community, though separated by national cultures, remained linked by the common experience of slavery and itsaftermath. His detailed accounts of these connections in the areas of politics, agriculture, arts, religion, and family organization will provide valuable insights to scholars working in Caribbean and American history and foreign policy and in race relations.
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