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Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Christopher Young, History

Plus ça change… A Historical Survey of Western Interference in Haiti

Date & time

Friday, December 13, 2019
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.


This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


J.W. McConnell Building
1400 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W. Room LB 362

Wheelchair accessible


When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


This dissertation aims at determining what historical lessons, positive or negative, can be gleaned from past Western interventionist activities in Haiti that are applicable to the desired future goal of rehabilitating or moving Haiti from fragile state status to functioning and stable state within the international community of nations. At the core of that problem is the need to determine how to restrain the impulses of external nations who obstruct or divert Haiti’s chosen path forward.
The findings show that the West has conducted a deliberate campaign against Haiti composed of three destabilizing elements: criminalization of opposition to interventions; economic warfare employing NGOs and SAP policies aimed at maintaining Haiti’s attractiveness as a source of cheap, plentiful labour; and a deliberate failure to exploit opportunities for fundamental, positive change in Haitian development. The analysis of Western interference in Haiti during the Latin America and Caribbean post-independence period has exposed a number of trends, including the use of force to coerce money from the Haitian government; the deliberate undermining of Haitian sovereignty through constant interference in Haitian elections, despite free and fair elections being considered the bedrock of Western democracy; a preference for stability and the status quo in Haiti over social revolutionary trends; and an historical, targeted funding of Haitian security forces, military and police despite both being the principal instruments of repression employed against any Haitian attempts at social revolutionary change.

As a metanarrative, the dissertation brings together various micro-narratives which highlight Western impact on specific areas of Haitian culture, including colour and class, militarism, land and the predatory state. Set within a chronological framework, the dissertation provides historical insight into practices which have had a significant influence on hindering peacebuilding generally. Understanding those practices and identifying lessons from historical analysis will prove useful in future peacebuilding work in Haiti and should help inform other fragile states’ development.

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