The Haitian Revolution

Capitalism, Slavery and Counter-Modernity

Eduardo Grüner / Translated by Ramsey McGlazer
Prologue by Gisela Catanzaro
December 2019

It is impossible to understand capitalism without analyzing slavery, an institution that tied together three world regions: Europe, the Americas, and Africa. The exploitation of slave labor led to a form of proto-globalization in which violence was indispensable to the production of wealth. 

Against the background of this expanding circulation of capital and slave labor, the first revolution in Latin America took place: the Haitian Revolution, which began in 1791 and culminated with Haiti’s declaration of independence in 1804. Taking the Haitian Revolution as a paradigmatic case, Grüner shows that modernity is not a linear evolution from the center to the periphery but, rather, a co-production developed in the context of highly unequal power relations, where extreme forms of conquest and exploitation were an indispensable part of capital accumulation. He also shows that the Haitian Revolution opened up a path to a different kind of modernity, or “counter-modernity,” a path along which Latin America and the Caribbean have traveled ever since.

A key work of critical theory from a Latin American perspective, this book will be of great interest to students and scholars of critical and cultural theory and of Latin America, as well as anyone concerned with the global impact of capitalism, colonialism, and race.

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About the Authors

Eduardo Grüner is a sociologist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Buenos Aires. He was awarded the Argentine National Literary Prize in 2011 for the original Spanish version of this book.