The Haitian Revolution

The Making of the Modern World - Lecture 1

Lecturer: Prof Gurminder K Bhambra, University of Sussex

Oct. 2, 2020

The French Revolution and the American Declaration of Independence tend to be seen as the revolutions that brought into being the modern world. While both events opened up the political process to increasing proportions of their populations and established general or universal understandings of citizenship, these have come to be regarded as problematic. For example, citizenship was only available to white males over a particular age who held property. Women were denied the vote, as were black people and white men without property. One of the few constitutions of the time that did not make colour a bar to political participation was that of the Haitian Revolution. In this session, we consider the significance of the Haitian Revolution and discuss its contribution to the making of the modern world.



Questions for discussion

  • What is the significance of the Haitian Revolution to our understandings of modernity?
  • How does the Haitian Revolution, and the idea of Black Citizenship, extend our understandings of citizenship more generally?
  • What explains the silence around the events of the Haitian Revolution in standard social science understandings of modernity and citizenship?