‘Damming the Flood: Haiti and the Politics of Containment’ by Peter Hallward

First published by Verso Books in 2007.

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Long before a devastating earthquake hit in January 2010, Haiti was one of the most impoverished and oppressed countries in the world. However, in the late 1980s a remarkable popular mobilization known as Lavalas (“the flood”) sought to liberate the island from decades of US-backed dictatorial rule. Damming the Flood analyzes how and why the Lavalas governments led by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide were overthrown, in 1991 and again in 2004, by the enemies of democracy in Haiti and abroad.

The elaborate campaign to suppress Lavalas was perhaps the most successful act of imperial sabotage since the end of the Cold War. It has left the people of Haiti at the mercy of some of the most rapacious political and economic forces on the planet.

Updated with a substantial new afterword that addresses the international response to the earthquake, Damming the Flood is both an invaluable account of recent Haitian history and an illuminating analysis of twenty-first-century imperialism.


Peter Hallward teaches Philosophy at Kingston University and has written books on Alain Badiou, Gilles Deleuze, postcolonial literature, and contemporary Haitian politics. His books The Will of the People and Blanqui and Political Will are forthcoming.

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