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"Singing Duvalier", singing the nation : masculinity in the discourse of nation formation in Haiti Burnham, Thorald M.


This thesis argues that no discussion of nationalism is possible without addressing the subject of masculinity. In the case of Haiti, masculinity is the privileged category of an oppositional national discourse, or "discent" narrative, and, therefore, orders and ranks constructions of race, class, language, colour, religion and sexuality. With the election of Francois Duvalier in September of 1957, the Black urban middle-classes expressed their interest in changing a national discourse that excluded them both literally and metaphorically, primarily on the basis of their colour. One year after his election as President of Haiti, the Musical Institute of Haiti held a song competition in honour of the new "Father" of the nation. A compilation of the songs was printed and released to the public. It is through a critical analysis of this booklet, as a site of discursive deployment of power and the national discourse, that the depth of the masculine narrative can be seen. Indeed, I argue that the songs of the competition reveal how in "singing Duvalier" they are in fact singing an oppositional, or "discenting" masculinity. This idea of competing masculinities is traceable to the origins of Haitian Independence and the establishment of a national, Black inclusive masculinity lasting until the U.S. occupation in 1915. The invasion imposed a "marine masculinity" which excluded Black Haitians and destroyed colour and power sharing etiquettes. Duvalier's election in 1957 was the articulation of the Black middle-classes' opposition to this new national discourse which had been perpetuated by the Mulatre elites after the marine's departure in 1934. Indeed, in "Singing Duvalier", the songs express a new, inclusionary national discourse by articulating race, class, colour, religion, and sexuality through a rubric of masculinity.

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