Haiti and the Heavens: Utopianism and Technocracy in the Cold War Era

Adam M Silvia, Florida International University


This study examined technocracy in Haiti in the Cold War era. It showed how Haitian and non-Haitian technicians navigated United States imperialism, Soviet ideology, and postcolonial nationalism to implement bold utopian visions in a country oppressed by poverty and dynastic authoritarianism. Throughout the mid-to-late twentieth century, technicians lavished Haiti with plans to improve the countryside, the city, the workplace, and the home. This study analyzed those plans and investigated the motivations behind them. Based on new evidence discovered in the private correspondence between Haitian, American, and Western European specialists, it questioned the assumption that technocracy was captivated by high-modernist ideology and US hegemony. It exposed how many technicians were inspired by a utopian desire to create a just society—one based not only on technical knowledge but also on humanist principles, such as liberty and equality. Guided by the utopian impulse, technicians occasionally disobeyed policymakers who wished to promote modernization and the capitalist world-economy. In many cases, however, they also upset the Haitian people, who believed technocracy was too exclusive. This study concluded that technicians were empowered by expertise but unable to build the utopias they envisioned because they were constantly at odds with both policymakers at the top and the people whose lives they planned.

Subject Area

Latin American history|American history|History

Recommended Citation

Silvia, Adam M, "Haiti and the Heavens: Utopianism and Technocracy in the Cold War Era" (2016). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI10743180.