Anti-Blackness in the Bahamas by Dr. Bertin M. Louis, Jr.

4 min readFeb 16, 2024

My research explores how anti-Haitianism serves as a type of anti-blackness which is encouraged and enacted by Black Bahamians resulting in anti-Haitian marginalization and stigmatization. It spurs a greater understanding of the adoption of anti-Haitianism as a political and nation-building strategy. This form of anti-blackness operates among people of African descent nationally, regionally and globally.

Anti-Haitianism is best known as a form of political domination, marginalization, and form of anti-blackness in the Dominican Republic. Often referred to as antihaitianismo, anti-Haitianism is rooted in the historical tensions and conflicts between Haiti and the Dominican Republic which include, but are not limited to, the 22-year Haitian occupation of the Dominican Republic (1822–1844), a genocidal massacre of tens of thousands of Haitians in 1937, ordered by Dominican leader Rafael Trujillo (Paulino 2016), and most recently la sentencia, the constitutional amendment adopted by the Dominican state in 2013 that rendered stateless tens of thousands of Haitian-Dominicans and forced many out of the country in 2015 (Joseph and Louis 2022). Anti-Haitian global practices preceded the founding of Haiti as the world’s first free Black Republic in 1804 and subsequent acts by Western governments to undermine Haitian freedom and rule. These anti-Haitian global manifestations included marginalization and isolation of Haiti by France and the U.S. after the Haitian Revolution, the subsequent indemnification of Haiti by France (Alexander 2011), and interference in Haitian affairs by the U.S. government and other entities such as foreign banks (Hudson 2017).

Dr. Bertin Louis Jr. (Author Provided)

Anti-Haitianism is an important form of anti-blackness. While much attention has been given to anti-Haitianism in the Dominican Republic and historical and contemporary anti-Haitian practices by the United States and France, my work explores how anti-Haitianism also operates in other locations by examining its historical and contemporary manifestations in the Bahamas.

Anti-Haitianism was a political strategy used by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) in the years leading up to independence and in the post-independence period in the Bahamas (Perry 2014). Anti-Haitianism is also regional (Caribbean), hemispheric (Western), and global (France and other actors such as the Core Group, the United Nations Security Council) phenomenon and consists of ideologies, outcomes, policies, political strategies, and practices which reify the negative connotations associated with Blackness and Haitian nationality.

In the Bahamas, anti-Haitianism is rooted in distortions of Haitian identity and draws from the foundational anti-blackness of the colonial white Bahamian regime. My work explores how Black Bahamians internalized anti-black ideas about themselves and other people of African descent. In particular, I demonstrate how anti-Haitianism operates as a type of anti-black assemblage in the Bahamas which harms people of Haitian descent through normative peripheralization and other tools of oppression such as immigration policies, access to political and cultural citizenship, xenophobia, and stigmatization as Black social pariahs.


Alexander, Leslie. 2011. “A Pact with the Devil? The United States and the Fate of Modern Haiti.” Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective (The Ohio State University). Available at

Hudson, Peter J. 2017. Bankers and Empire: How Wall Street Colonized the Caribbean. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Joseph, Daniel and Bertin M. Louis, Jr. 2022. “Anti-Haitianism and Statelessness in the Caribbean.” The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology. Pp. 1–22. ISSN 1935–4932.

Paulino, Edward. 2016. Dividing Hispaniola: The Dominican Republic’s Border Campaign against Haiti, 1930–1961. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Perry, Charmane M. “Invasion from the South: Social Construction of the Haitian ‘Other’ in the Bahamas.” The International Journal of Bahamian Studies Volume 20, no. 1 (2014):


Bertin M. Louis, Jr. PhD is Associate Professor of Anthropology and African American & Africana Studies at the University of Kentucky. He is the winner of the 2023 Sam Dubal Memorial Award for Anti-Colonialism and Racial Justice in Anthropology from the American Anthropological Association (AAA). Louis is also the recipient of 2023–2024 Wenner-Gren Fellowship in Anthropology and Black Experiences (School for Advanced Research).

Bertin served as President of the Association of Black Anthropologists (2021–2023), is the current ABA Secretary/Treasurer (2023–2025), a past Editor of Inside Higher Ed’s Conditionally Accepted column, a regular contributor to Higher Ed Jobs, and a co-editor for the Truthout series called “Challenging the Corporate University.” Louis is also the co-author of the forthcoming Conditionally Accepted: Navigating Higher Education from the Margins (University of Texas Press, 2024).

Dr. Louis studies the growth of Protestant forms of Christianity among Haitians transnationally, which is featured in his New York University Press book, “My Soul is in Haiti: Protestantism in the Haitian Diaspora of the Bahamas (2015)”. He also studies human rights, statelessness among Haitians in the Bahamas, anti-Haitianism, and antiracist social movements in the US South. Dr. Louis teaches courses in Black Studies and Cultural Anthropology, and he received his PhD in 2008 from the Department of Anthropology at Washington University in Saint Louis.

Dr. Louis is also the owner and founder of Navigating Higher Education (NHE), an award-winning academic consulting firm which offers higher education-related services and empowers its clients to find and secure academic positions.

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