Facing Revolution: Captivity Narratives and Identity in the Saint-Domingue Revolution

TitleFacing Revolution: Captivity Narratives and Identity in the Saint-Domingue Revolution
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2003
AuthorsPopkin, Jeremy D.
JournalEighteenth-Century Studies
Start Page511-533

First-person narratives by whites taken captive during the slave rebellion that eventually led to the creation of the independent black republic of Haiti are of great interest for the development of thinking about race in the revolutionary era. The authors of these narratives were the first whites to face situations in which blacks not only challenged white rule, but created military and political structures of their own and induced some whites—including Gros and Descourtilz, the authors of the two most extensive published captivity narratives from the period—to accept a subordinate status within them. The first-person character of these testimonies enabled their authors to go beyond the standard stereotypes of writing about the black insurgents. Written in the period in which modern autobiographical narrative was taking shape, these texts show that first-person writing could serve to show the deconstruction of the autonomous white male ego as well as its affirmation. 

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