Malick W. Ghachem
- Associate Professor
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
How was Haiti first subjected to the demands of the global economy? The rise of the large-scale sugar plantation complex followed a struggle for power during the 1720s between white colonists (led by women and vagabonds) and the French Indies Company. Hostility to the Company’s monopoly over the French slave trade brought planters, anxious about the price and availability of West African captives, to the brink of treason. This resistance transformed Haiti from a set of loosely connected settler communities into a cohesive, plantation-driven polity willing and able to assert the supremacy of planter interests over all others. The revolt opened the French slave trade to all comers and made Haiti into the ruthlessly aggressive plantation machine that dominated the world’s sugar, coffee, and indigo markets for decades to come. Meanwhile, Jesuit missionaries and maroon slaves moved to stamp the emerging plantation order with their own versions of Haiti’s future.