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Without One Ritual Note: Folklore Performance and the Haitian State, 1935-1946

Without One Ritual Note: Folklore Performance and the Haitian State, 1935-1946 Page 7 Kate Ramsey During a roundtable discussion focused on the early history of Haitian staged folklore performance that took place in Port-au-Prince in April 1997, one panelist noted that the so-called mouvement folklorique had “really begun” under the post–U.S. occupation presidency of Elie Lescot (1941– 46). Another then observed that “paradoxically, you also had under Lescot the kanpay rejete,” the Roman Catholic Church’s violent crusade against “superstition,” which the state backed in 1941– 42 with military force.1 This article focuses on the logic of that historical conjunction, examining official cultural nationalist policy in Haiti during the late 1930s and early 1940s in relation to the postoccupation legal regime against les pratiques superstitieuses (superstitious practices). The latter was a new penal category, instituted by Lescot’s predecessor, Sténio Vincent, a year after the end of the nineteen-year U.S. military occupation of Haiti in the summer of 1934. Repealing the longstanding legal prohibition against les sortilèges (spells), Vincent’s government tightened the official interdiction of particular forms of popular ritual, but also, for the first time, affirmed the right of peasants to organize “popular dances.” The article will consider the implications of this legal formulation in light of the Haitian state’s http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Radical History Review Duke University Press

Without One Ritual Note: Folklore Performance and the Haitian State, 1935-1946

Radical History Review , Volume 2002 (84) – Oct 1, 2002

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2002 by MARHO: The Radical Historians' Organization, Inc.
ISSN
0163-6545
eISSN
1534-1453
DOI
10.1215/01636545-2002-84-7
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Page 7 Kate Ramsey During a roundtable discussion focused on the early history of Haitian staged folklore performance that took place in Port-au-Prince in April 1997, one panelist noted that the so-called mouvement folklorique had “really begun” under the post–U.S. occupation presidency of Elie Lescot (1941– 46). Another then observed that “paradoxically, you also had under Lescot the kanpay rejete,” the Roman Catholic Church’s violent crusade against “superstition,” which the state backed in 1941– 42 with military force.1 This article focuses on the logic of that historical conjunction, examining official cultural nationalist policy in Haiti during the late 1930s and early 1940s in relation to the postoccupation legal regime against les pratiques superstitieuses (superstitious practices). The latter was a new penal category, instituted by Lescot’s predecessor, Sténio Vincent, a year after the end of the nineteen-year U.S. military occupation of Haiti in the summer of 1934. Repealing the longstanding legal prohibition against les sortilèges (spells), Vincent’s government tightened the official interdiction of particular forms of popular ritual, but also, for the first time, affirmed the right of peasants to organize “popular dances.” The article will consider the implications of this legal formulation in light of the Haitian state’s

Journal

Radical History ReviewDuke University Press

Published: Oct 1, 2002

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