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The Colonial System Unveiled$
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Baron de Vastey

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781781380314

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781380314.001.0001

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Memories of Development: Le Système colonial dévoilé and the Performance of Literacy

Memories of Development: Le Système colonial dévoilé and the Performance of Literacy

(p.247) 3 Memories of Development: Le Système colonial dévoilé and the Performance of Literacy
The Colonial System Unveiled

Chris Bongie

Liverpool University Press

The translation of Vastey’s The Colonial System Unveiled is followed by four supplementary essays, written by established scholars in the field of Haitian Revolutionary Studies, that are devoted to showing how the text adopts and adapts, revises and resists, generic conventions that were available to it at the time, and even anticipates new forms of expression that would gain recognition only in the following century. Marlene Daut’s essay, “Monstrous Testimony,” reads Colonial System “as a kind of proto-testimonio,” while Doris Garraway’s “Abolition, Sentiment, and the Problem of Agency” explores Vastey’s engagement with the sentimental genre of “antislavery polemic.” Bongie’s “Memories of Development” examines the displays of literacy in Vastey’s text (and especially in its footnotes) in relation to the reformist genre of the Bildungsroman, while Nesbitt’s closing reflections identify it as “the founding major work” of “Caribbean critique”—a revolutionary form of thought that extends from Vastey to twentieth-century francophone writers like Aimé Césaire and Frantz Fanon. These four essays provide a compelling impetus for the further study of Vastey in particular, and post/revolutionary Haiti in general.

Keywords:   Baron de Vastey, Haiti, Haitian Revolution, genre, testimonio, abolitionism, anticolonialism, Bildungsroman, Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon

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