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The Roots of Haitian Despotism

Robert Fatton Jr.
The Roots of Haitian Despotism
ISBN: 978-1-58826-544-9
ISBN: 978-1-62637-159-0
2007/269 pages/LC: 2007000767
Also of interest: Haiti's Predatory Republic and Haiti: Trapped in the Outer Periphery both by Robert Fatton Jr.

"This is a must read for anyone interested in Haitian politics.... a timely and well-researched book on the roots of Haiti's authoritarianism and its impact on the country's development."—Francis Pierre-Louis Jr., Queens College, CUNY

"With its fascinating argument and rich selection of historical details, The Roots of Haitian Despotism offers a breath-taking tour of Haiti's revolutionary and postcolonial history."—Henry Carey, Georgia State University


Though founded in the wake of a revolution that embodied its slave population's quest for freedom and equality, Haiti has endured a history marked by an unending pattern of repressive dictatorial regimes. Exploring that history, Robert Fatton offers a rigorous explanation of how and why the legacy of colonialism, the struggle against slavery, and the intersection of the domestic and world economies have contributed to both material scarcity in the country and the entrenchment of authoritarian rule.

Fatton illuminates the culture of authoritarianism that, coupled with conditions of extreme underdevelopment, continues to undermine Haiti's recent struggle to establish a meaningful democracy. While offering some hope for the emergence of a more accountable political system, he underscores the profound difficulties of freeing Haitian society from the structural legacy of its long history of despotism.


Robert Fatton Jr. is Julia A. Cooper Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia. His numerous publications include Haiti's Predatory Republic: The Unending Transition to Democracy.


  • Introduction.
  • Habitus, Political Culture, and African Legacies.
  • Social Hierarchies and Authoritarian Legacies.
  • Presidential Monarchism.
  • The Empire Arrives: The Road to the US Occupation.
  • Imperialism and Authoritarianism.
  • From Duvalier to the Unending Democratic Transition.
  • Conclusion.