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Becoming a Force in the Zone: Hedonopolitics, Masculinity, and the Quest for Respect on Haiti’s Streets

By Chelsey L. Kivland

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Cite As:
Kivland, Chelsey. 2014. “Becoming a Force in the Zone: Hedonopolitics, Masculinity, and the Quest for Respect on Haiti’s Streets”. Cultural Anthropology 29 (4), 672-98. https://doi.org/10.14506/ca29.4.05.

Abstract

This article explores neighborhood organizing among young men in urban Haiti as a vernacular enactment of sovereignty that involves both a hedonistic and a gendered logic. Under conditions of democratization and global governance, the urban block, or base, has become a key site for building political community and creating connections to those in power. Central to base politics are public outings that engender power and respect for the organizers by demonstrating their force not through violence but through masculine social pleasures. This article elaborates three key outings—a street party, a soccer tournament, and a beach day—organized by neighbors and supported by state, NGO, and criminal actors. By focusing on hedonopolitics, rather than on the common tropes of violence and death, this article extends recent work on the embodiment of sovereign power, while also showing that masculine pleasure represents an underanalyzed yet important dimension of sovereignty.

Keywords

sovereignty; pleasure; respect; black masculinity; gangs; Haiti