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Conceptions of Identity of Haitian Europeans in France: What does a black european concept of Identity mean to Haitians in France?

Michele Alexandre

This paper focuses on how the socialization process of Haitian Europeans (specifically second and later generations of Haitians) influences their conceptions of self in relation not only to Haiti but also to other Europeans and members of the Black Diaspora.

The waves of Haitian migration to France pre-date the Haitian, French and American Revolutions. Africans in Haiti have a tumultuous relationship with France regardless of whether or not they have actually been to that country. The history existing between Haiti and France traditionally influences Haitians’ conceptions of self and creates an image of the Haitian as one who is valiant and resistant against the French. Such a notion, however, have in contemporary times been complicated by Haitians’ need to seek political asylum in France (especially in the 1950’s and 1960’s) and by the politics of assimilation promoted in France in regards to immigrants.

As a consequence, Haitian immigrants often suffer from a fragmented concept of identity, which might prevent them from forming coalitions with other African groups. This paper proposes that a subversive counteracting of the politics of assimilation promoted in France might be a first step in achieving a stronger concept of identity not only for Haitians in France, but as well as for other members of the Black Diaspora. In addition, this paper suggests ways to build stronger coalition between members of Black Diaspora in France that might ameliorate the experience of the various groups of Blacks living in that country.

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