14 Pages

Introduction: Les espaces Haïtiens: Remapping the Geography of the Haitian Diaspora


Scholars of transnationalism credit Anglade as the fi rst to use the term “Tenth Department” (Dixième Département) to describe the external province of Haiti made up of immigrants, exiles and refugees living abroad (Glick Schiller, Basch and Szanton Blanc 1995; Labelle 2002; Richman 2005). In the late 1970s, primarily among a cadre of French-speaking émigrés, diaspora became an important signifi er of nation-ness encompassing the scattered arrondissements (districts) where Haitians lived and worked.1 Although this reimagined community-without regard for traditional geographic and political boundaries-developed in varied contexts, it was foremost an indeterminate state, with the potential to “become more important than physical space itself” (Batty 1993, 615). Accordingly, Michel Laguerre describes the Haitian diaspora as “located between and inside these two social formations [homeland and receiving country] that tie them to each other in a transnational spatial fl ow” (Laguerre 1998, 4). The complicated task of representing this dispersed community graphically likely explains

why Anglade often described himself as “a man in three parts”: a geographer, a politician and a fi ction writer. His efforts to map the national and transnational space of Haiti seem a fi tting way to introduce this volume and at the same time honor his memory. Indeed, Anglade’s attention to the history of migration from Haiti was the inspiration for this book, which focuses on geographically specifi c sites of the Haitian diaspora.