Baron de Vastey and the Twentieth-Century Theater of Haitian Independence
By paying more attention to performances rather than readings of Vastey, in this chapter the author asks what understandings of Haitian independence, Haitian sovereignty, and the Black Atlantic humanism that both buttressed, we might glean by thinking about how Vastey, an intellectual, became a central figure in dramatic representations of Haitian revolutionaries by twentieth-century writers? Daut probes this question by first exploring in the twentieth-century theater of Haitian independence the meaning and consequences of isolating and blaming Haiti for the troubles with black sovereignty (in Sect. 1). This thread is then pursued more specifically by examining how Haiti has been isolated from modern Black Atlantic thought, as demonstrated by theatrical representations of Vastey produced by Derek Walcott (in Sect. 2), Aimé Césaire (in Sect. 3), and May Miller, Selden Rodman, and Dan Hammerman (in Sect. 4). Daut argues that what we derive from these six performances of Vastey on stage is a pointed critique of Haitian leadership and ultimately, Haitian sovereignty; one that tends to isolate rather than include Haiti in a history of the Americas marked by both neo-colonialism and global capitalism. In their own ways the authors of these plays use Vastey to produce a performance of the troubles with sovereignty after colonialism.