Empire’s Guestworkers: Haitian Migrants in Cuba during the Age of US Occupation


Matthew Casey’s Empire’s Guestworkers: Haitian Migrants in Cuba during the Age of US Occupation was published by Cambridge University Press in April 2017. It offers a comprehensive study of early twentieth-century movements of peoples between Haiti and Cuba, especially guestworkers. The publisher writes:

Haitian seasonal migration to Cuba is central to narratives about race, national development, and US imperialism in the early twentieth-century Caribbean. Filling a major gap in the literature, this innovative study reconstructs Haitian guestworkers’ lived experiences as they moved among the rural and urban areas of Haiti, and the sugar plantations, coffee farms, and cities of eastern Cuba. It offers an unprecedented glimpse into the daily workings of empire, labor, and political economy in Haiti and Cuba. Migrants’ efforts to improve their living and working conditions and practice their religions shaped migration policies, economic realities, ideas of race, and Caribbean spirituality in Haiti and Cuba as each experienced US imperialism.

In her review of Casey’s work, Andrea Queeley says: Making a much-needed contribution to the historiography of the Caribbean, Matthew Casey’s Empire’s Guestworkers: Haitian Migrants in Cuba during the Age of US Occupation (2017) is a remarkably comprehensive study of the early twentieth-century migration of Haitians to Cuba and back again. It offers a close examination of Haiti under occupation as well as a consideration of US economic and political dominance in Cuba and the global shift in regimes of labor of which this Haitian migration was a part. While situating the Cuban guest worker program within the context of US empire, Empire’s Guestworkers argues that Cuban and Haitian migration policies were shaped by the history of the relationship between these two nations, independent of US intervention, as well as by migrants themselves. Indeed, one of this book’s greatest strengths is that it meets its objective of documenting “how migrants experienced the unevenness of empire and the contradictions of post-colonial rule in the Caribbean” (30) while skillfully representing intersecting local, national, regional, and global realities.”

See full review by Andrea Queeley at http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showpdf.php?id=49748

For purchasing information, see https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/empires-guest-workers/0F2AE7339EB095A1D0E8157DAF275F00 and https://www.amazon.com/Empires-Guestworkers-Migrants-Occupation-Afro-Latin/dp/1107127696

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