Economies of colour

In the worst case it is interpreted wrongly, as something derogatory. But nèg means quite simply “fellow” or “I say...”. Nèg does, however, also mean black, as opposed to blan or milat. Skin colour has never been registered in any Haitian censuses, but the overwhelming majority of Haitians are black. Fewer than 10% are mulattos, and there are scarcely a thousand Levantines – Palestinians, Lebanese and Syrians – who came to Haiti at the end of the 19th-century and beginning of the 20th century, and largely marry within their own group.

In 1979 the  British priest and political scientist David Nicholls published a remarkable book, From Dessalines to Duvalier: Race, Colour and National Independence in Haiti, in which he makes a sharp distinction between race and skin colour. Race has, according to Nicholls, always been a unifying factor among Haitians. They all see themselves as joined together by their African biological h...

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Mats Lundahl

Professor emeritus i utvecklingsekonomi vid Handelshögskolan.

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