Reference Entry

Price-Mars, Jean

Richard Watts

in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience, Second Edition

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9780195170559
Price-Mars, Jean

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Jean Price-Mars was born in Grande Rivière du Nord, Haiti. After studying medicine, anthropology, and political science in Haiti and Paris, he joined the Haitian diplomatic corps. It was through this work that Price-Mars discovered his oratorical skills, giving a great number of lectures on Haitian culture and politics in the 1910s and 1920s that were gathered in his first published works, La Vocation de l'élite (1919), Ainsi parla l'Oncle (1928), and Une étape de l'évolution haïtienne (1929). Price-Mars subsequently split his time between active politics and more intellectual pursuits throughout the rest of his life. During the tumultuous middle of the century, he remained close to Haiti's ever-changing power élite, running twice for president and being appointed ambassador to Paris by François Duvalier in 1957.More significantly, Price-Mars continued to write on the history of Haiti and on the importance of racial and cultural pride in works such as De Saint-Domingue à Haïti: essai sur la culture, les arts et la littérature (1959) and Silhouette de nègres et de négrophiles (1960). During the humiliating period of the United States occupation of Haiti (1915–1934), Price-Mars strove in his lectures to remind Haitians of their rich cultural heritage.Although Price-Mars's ideas seem tame by comparison to those of Aimé Césaire and Frantz Fanon, they were revolutionary in their time and place. Léopold Sédar Senghor, for one, acknowledged the debt to Price-Mars, a writer who showed him “the treasures of Négritude that he discovered in Haiti, [and] taught me to discover those same riches—albeit in raw and undiluted form—in Africa.”

Reference Entry.  274 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History

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