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    Capturing the likeness of Henry I of Haiti (1805–1822)

    McIntosh, Tabitha and Pierrot, G. (2017) Capturing the likeness of Henry I of Haiti (1805–1822). Atlantic Studies 14 (2), pp. 127-151. ISSN 1478-8810.

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    Abstract

    This article explores the role played by representations of General Henry Christophe, later King Henry I of Haiti, in relations between Great Britain and the section of independent Haiti he led in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. In these early years, when France threatened to try and recover its former colony by force, relations with Great Britain were essential to the survival of the new country. Led by those British merchants who had early built commercial ties with Haiti, Great Britain looked with a mixture of wariness and interest on Haiti at large and Henry in particular. This article argues that English representations of Henry in turn gave the Haitian leader cues as to how to portray himself for British audiences. In order to gain diplomatic recognition, Henry I of Haiti self-consciously made himself recognizable to British eyes, playing up those aspects of his persona most palatable to the English. Henry’s exchanges with England have often been seen as proof of genuine Anglophilia on his part; this article analyzes them as a strategic effort dedicated to swaying English public opinion in his support by portraying him as a product of English influence. The discussion of a lost portrait of the king – rediscovered in archival research – demonstrates that domestic representations of King Henry appealed to profoundly different expectations. Drawing on the latest works in Haitian Revolutionary Studies by Deborah Jenson and Chris Bongie, this article contends that with his portraits Henry of Haiti pieced together a complex, ambivalent political bid by which he hoped to gain the recognition of England while retaining that of the black world.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Haitian revolution, Kingdom of Haiti, Henry Christophe, Great Britain, visual culture, black nationalism
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Arts > English and Humanities
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2017 11:00
    Last Modified: 03 Nov 2017 09:39
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/17675

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