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Borowetz, Taylor (2023) 'After property? The Haitian Revolution, racial capitalism, and the foundation for a universal right to freedom from enslavement.' International Journal of Human Rights. pp. 1-25. (Forthcoming)

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The articulation of a universal right to freedom from enslavement in the 1801 Constitution of Saint-Domingue [which would become Haiti] points both to the potential of the law to depict ambitious imaginations of rights as well as the limits of articulating a legal-juridical freedom under racial capitalism. After abolishing slavery, the same document outlines the conditions of forced labour through cultivatorship, characterised by the continuity of the plantation system. This paper argues that Haitian Revolutionary emancipation offers a site from which to critique and imagine beyond the proprietorial subject of rights. Racialised property relations are foundational to capitalism, allowing for the production of both surplus value and profit, as well as a subject legible to the state. If proprietorial selfhood only constitutes partial emancipation, then the foundation for a universal right to freedom from enslavement must be found outside the capitalist social and legal forms – after property. Each instance of insistence on abolition challenges the failure of the Enlightenment to substantiate universal rights. Ameliorating group-differentiated vulnerabilities to premature death is a radical political and philosophical stance: access to the means of life is the minimal condition of freedom.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Haitian revolution; abolition;freedom; property; 1801 Constitution of Saint Domingue
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Politics & International Studies
ISSN: 13642987
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2023 08:51

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