Winner of the 2021 Haitian Studies Association Book Prize
Haiti Fights Back: The Life and Legacy of Charlemagne Péralte is the first US scholarly examination of the politician and caco leader (guerrilla fighter) who fought against the US military occupation of Haiti. The occupation lasted close to two decades, from 1915-1934. Alexis argues for the importance of documenting resistance while exploring the occupation’s mechanics and its imperialism. She takes us to Haiti, exploring the sites of what she labels as resistance zones, including Péralte’s hometown of Hinche and the nation’s large port areas--Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haïtien. Alexis offers a new reading of U.S. military archival sources that record Haitian protests as banditry. Haiti Fights Back illuminates how Péralte launched a political movement, and meticulously captures how Haitian women and men resisted occupation through silence, military battles, and writings. She locates and assembles rare, multilingual primary sources from traditional repositories, living archives (oral stories), and artistic representations in Haiti and the United States. The interdisciplinary work draws on legislation, cacos’ letters, newspapers, and murals, offering a unique examination of Péralte’s life (1885-1919) and the significance of his legacy through the twenty-first century. Haiti Fights Back offers a new approach to the study of the U.S. invasion of the Americas by chronicling how Caribbean people fought back.
About the Author
YVELINE ALEXIS is an associate professor of history at Oberlin College in Ohio.
"Yveline Alexis zooms in on Charlemagne Péralte to show the ways in which cacos resistance to the US Occupation of 1915-1934 continues to loom large in Haitian imagination, at home and abroad. In the process, she charts and retraces his living memory as a revolutionary, martyr, and symbol of defiance in the Black Republic's ongoing battle for liberation. Haiti Fights Back looks backward to remind us why Black refusal matters now more than ever!"
— Gina Athena Ulysse
"Haiti Fights Back demonstrates all that is to be gained when Haitian voices, perspectives and experiences are privileged in the telling of Haitian history. Haitian resistance to the US occupation was swift, innovative, and constant. With her narration of Péralte’s life and legacy, Yveline Alexis offers a new path forward for engaging with the historical record."
— Nadève Ménard
Yveline Alexis's "Haiti Fights Back"
— The Page 99 Test
"Conversation with author Yveline Alexis about her new book HAITI FIGHTS BACK: The life and Legacy of Charlemagne Peralte"
— Lacaye Enterprises Tele Lacaye show
"My book of the year is Haiti Fights Back, by Yveline Alexis (Rutgers), a brilliant study of Haitian collective resistance to the American occupation (1915– highlights the role of the caco (guerrilla) leader Charlemagne Pe´ralte, a remarkable figure who inspired and mobilized popular opposition to the American military presence, challenging the occupying forces’ brutality and racism, and expressing the Haitian people’s humanity and dignity through an array of contentious political actions, ranging from symbolic and rhetorical interventions to demonstrations and military operations. Written with sensitivity and verve, and steeped in ground-breaking archival scholarship, this is history at its most captivating: it tells a powerful story which draws out the courage and patriotism of ordinary Haitian men and women, underscores the vitality of their revolutionary tradition, and offers a timely historical perspective on this year’s defeat of the American empire in Afghanistan."
— Times Literary Supplement
New Books Network: New Books in Caribbean Studies - interview with Yveline Alexis
— New Books Network: New Books in Caribbean Studies