Of Bosal and Kongo: Exploring the Evolution of the Vernacular in Contemporary Haiti
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Of Bosal and Kongo: Exploring the Evolution of the Vernacular in Contemporary Haiti

  • Author(s): Pressley-Sanon, Toni
  • et al.
Abstract

In this article, I trace the multiple layers of meaning behind the words “bosal” and “kongo” in contemporary Haiti. I read the sociopolitical origins of the two terms, both of which issue from the slave era, and trouble the attributes that scholars traditionally ascribe to them. I also explore how two Haitian folklore characters, Uncle Bouki and Ti Malis, reflect and comment on historical and contemporary class divisions. Then, using interviews as a basis for my discussion, I explore the two terms’ varied meanings within popular culture before analyzing them as terms not only of denigration but also of empowerment. To do this, I compare popular uses of the terms with the appropriation of the term “nigger” in African American popular culture.

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