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Reverberations of RevolutionTransnational Perspectives, 1770-1850$
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Elizabeth Amann and Michael Boyden

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781474481588

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474481588.001.0001

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Revolution in Colonial Translation: From Saint-Domingue to Haiti

Revolution in Colonial Translation: From Saint-Domingue to Haiti

(p.77) Chapter 4 Revolution in Colonial Translation: From Saint-Domingue to Haiti
Reverberations of Revolution

Jeremy D. Popkin

Edinburgh University Press

Jeremy Popkin’s essay explores how French political concepts and discourse were appropriated in the Haitian Revolution and what was lost in translation. Its point of departure is the decision in 1793 by two representatives of the French Republic in Saint-Domingue to translate the 1685 Code Noir into Creole. Although this document, which reinforced the institution of slavery, was clearly at odds with the representatives’ revolutionary principles, it did guarantee certain rights and protections for the slaves. Popkin points to the many difficulties of translating ideas such as “liberty,” “rights” and “equality” into a colonial context, in which the slaves had very different political notions and the revolutionaries’ actions often contradicted their ideological principles.

Keywords:   French Revolution, Haitian Revolution, Saint-Domingue, Code Noir, slavery, Creole, translation of political discourse

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