Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Modern Languages and Literatures (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Marc Brudzinski

Second Committee Member

Steven Butterman

Third Committee Member

Ralph Heyndels

Fourth Committee Member

Michelle Warren

Fifth Committee Member

William Rothman


This work is a comparative study of the influence of the pan-Africanist discourse of ethnographers Dr. Jean Price-Mars of Haiti and Dr. Arthur Ramos of Brazil, and its impact on the respective literatures and cinemas of the two nations. Beginning in the first quarter of the 20th Century, and stemming from a developing auto-ethnography undertaken by the two scholars, a growing concern over defining cultural identity inspired a generation of writers to appropriate ethnographic methodology and apply it to their fictional works. The discourse of representation, which looked to popular sources for inspiration (Haitian Indigénisme and Brazilian Regionalismo, or which rebelled against literary conventions (modernists of both nations), gave rise to a contentious dispute over a State-sanctioned national identity versus a cultural identity spearheaded by the literati. In looking at the battle over signification, I examine the development of an ethnopoetics in the works of such writers as René Depestre, Jean-Baptiste Cinéas, Jacques Roumain, Jorge Amado, Rachel de Queiroz, Mário de Andrade and others, that is persistently used to subvert and oppose the official discourse of the State and its allies. Following the model provided by the Indigénistes, Regionalists and Modernists, and utilizing the framework of French filmmaker Jean Rouch's conceptualization of ethnofictions, the final chapter of the dissertation examines the blurring of the lines between narrative cinema and documentary as a counterdiscursive strategy in Haitian and Brazilian films.


Jean Price-Mars; Arthur Ramos; Mario De Andrade; Brazilian Regionalist Novel; Rene Depestre; Roman Indigeniste