Women at Sea pp 281-291 | Cite as


Haiti’s Unquiet Past: Katherine Dunham, Modern Dancer, and Her Enchanted Island
  • Joan Dayan


On October 24, 1801, Victor-Emmanuel Leclerc, First Counsel Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother-in-law, was named commander-in-chief of what would be the largest expeditionary army ever to sail from France. The mission? To reclaim France’s most lucrative colony and to restore the institution of slavery; or, as Napoleon commanded Leclerc, to leave no epaulette on any black shoulder. In 1791, black slaves in Saint-Domingue began the revolt against the colonial masters, a struggle that would end in 1804 with the founding of the world’s first black republic.


Chicken Feather Exotic Dancer Black Slave Colonial Master Dance Company 
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  1. 2.
    See Paul Rossier, Lettres du Général Leclerc: Commandant en Chef de l’Armée de Saint-Domingue en 1802 (Paris: Société de l’Histoire des Colonies Françaises et Librairie Ernest Leroux, 1937).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Jacques Marquet de Montbreton de Norvins, Souvenirs d’un historien de Napoléon: Mémorial de J. de Norvins. 3 vols. Edited by Léon de Lanzac de Laborie (Paris: Plon, 1896).Google Scholar
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    Katherine Dunham, Island Possessed (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994). Subsequent references will appear in parentheses in the text.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Katherine Dunham, A Touch of Innocence (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1959), 50. Subsequent references will appear in parentheses in the text.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Zora Neale Hurston, Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica (New York: Harper & Row, 1990).Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    “Miss Dunham’s Haitian Home.” New Yorker, 17 October 1994, 48ff.Google Scholar
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    Ruth Beckford, Katherine Dunham: A Biography (New York: M. Dekker, 1979).Google Scholar
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    William Seabrook, The Magic Island (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1929).Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    Cabin in the Sky, a 1943 film based on the stage show of the same name and directed by Vincente Minnelli for MGM, featured, in addition to Dunham, Ethel Waters, Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, Lena Home, and Louis Armstrong.Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    Médéric-Louis-Elie Moreau de Saint-Méry, Description topographique, physique, civile, politique, et historique de la partie française de l’île Saint-Domingue (Paris: Guerin, 1875).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert and Ivette Romero-Cesareo 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joan Dayan

There are no affiliations available

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