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Isles of Noise
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Noise Sonic Media in the Caribbean
Alejandra Bronfman The University of North Carolina Press Chapel Hill
© 2016 The University of North Carolina Press All rights reserved Set in Utopia by codeMantra, Inc. Manufactured in the United States of America The University of North Carolina Press has been a member of the Green Press Initiative since 2003. Cover illustration: Scott Robinson (https://www.flickr.com/people/ [email protected]), Ripples in Lake Seeley Montana This Summer, 15 August 2005. Wikimedia Commons. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Bronfman, Alejandra, 1962–author. Title: Isles of noise : sonic media in the Caribbean / Alejandra Bronfman. Description: Chapel Hill : The University of North Carolina Press,  | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2015046025 | ISBN 9781469628691 (pbk : alk. paper) | ISBN 9781469628707 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Radio—Caribbean Area—History. | Radio broadcasting— Caribbean Area—History. | Mass media and culture—Caribbean Area— History. | Caribbean Area—Foreign relations—United States. | Caribbean Area—Foreign relations—Great Britain. Classification: LCC TK6548.C37 B76 2016 | DDC 384.5409729—dc23 LC record available at http://lccn.loc.gov/2015046025
Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises, Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not. Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices . . . —William Shakespeare, The Tempest
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Contents 1 Signal, 1 2 Circuits, 11 3 Receivers, 37 4 Resistors, 66 5 Voice, 91 6 Ears, 117 7 Sign-Off, 148
Acknowledgments, 157 Notes, 161 Bibliography, 187 Index, 211
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Figures U.S. Marines in Haiti, 20 General Electric Company of Cuba radiotelephony advertisement, 1922, 56 General Electric Company of Cuba advertisement, 1922, 57 Cover art, John Houston Craige, Black Bagdad: The Arabian Nights Adventures of a Marine Captain in Haiti (1933), 68 John Grinan’s broadcasting studio, Kingston, Jamaica, 1938, 84 ZQI broadcasting station logo, 85 Louise Bennett at the University of the West Indies, 1949, 105 George Clark, “Suggested Names for Loudspeakers,” 1922, 120 Fast Delivery van, Museum of the Revolution, Havana, Cuba, 132
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Isles of Noise
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Sometime in the spring of 1905, Frank E. Butler boarded a train traveling from Havana to Santiago with so many suitcases full of “a great quantity of wire, equipment, etc.,” that his sleeper “resembled a baggage car.”1 The cargo raised suspicion. During a rest stop on the twentysix-hour journey, the crew removed a large coil of wire they had found in Butler’s compartment. As passengers gathered to stare, the crew interrogated him as to its purpose and demanded a fee for not confiscating it. Once he arrived in Santiago, Butler needed help transporting the equipment. He asked a Cuban army officer he had befriended to find a few boys to help him carry the suitcases and coils to the steamer that would take him to Boquerón, in Guantánamo Bay. In Boquerón, he found a Jamaican man, George Morehead, to assist him. They strapped the equipment on the backs of two horses and began their hike through the jungle to their destination. Butler soon discovered that a clearing in the jungle was his destination; he described the proposed spot for the first wireless station in the Caribbean as “dense undergrowth . . . interspersed with low, arid, sand flats: a paradise for mosquitoes, snakes, horned toads, scorpions, tarantulas, wild cats, and all other kinds of tropical creatures, flying and crawling.”2 The insects and snakes plagued Butler and his coworkers for a year as they built the station. Swathed in kerchiefs to keep out the swarming mosquitoes, they laid concrete foundations and constructed timber towers that they draped in 45,000 feet of seven-strand, phosphor bronze wire. With romantic flourish, Butler described the completed tower as a hybrid of nature and technology, awash in beauty: “The huge cage resembled a giant goldfish globe two hundred feet high, and months afterwards, when the station was in operation, the mesh of wires would emit a bluish brush discharge at night which was beautiful beyond description, and always proved of unending awe to the natives who would stand off from afar and gaze in open mouthed wonder.”3 Most often, however, the sublime barely 1
surfaced in the battles with nature that dominated daily life. Lightning struck the station three times. A wildcat fell into their well, compromising their only source of fresh water. Yellow fever spread through the camp. Not that the technology cooperated particularly, either. As if mimicking the dramatic environment, the motor and transformer exploded at least four times between June and December that year. Butler narrated the establishment of the wireless station in Guantánamo as an adventure, a journey into the tropical wilds in order to fulfill the mission of expanding the reach of wireless throughout the Americas. Guantánamo would serve as a laboratory to test and perfect the equipment and to understand how it responded to a tropical climate. The ubiquitous mosquitos and scorpions constantly threatened to do in Butler’s project of converting his strange luggage into a tower that would send signals to faraway places. What for? In December 1905, ten days after Butler wrote in his journal that the “big two-ton transformer blew up,” he was able to respond to a “Merry Christmas” message sent from Navy headquarters in Washington, D.C., with his own “Same to you, and many of them.” For Butler, these bland exchanges across hundreds of miles marked the end of his story.4 His work was done. When Butler arrived home, he received a note of thanks from his employer, electrical engineer and self-proclaimed inventor Lee de Forest, who noted that he had worked “for tedious months . . . in climates scorching and unhealthy, distressed but not baffled by static unknown to other wireless workers.” Despite those conditions, Butler had managed to “force new secrets from Nature” with the new station.5 De Forest’s gratitude was tinged with relief that his new wireless communications system had proven viable. De Forest had been tinkering with the possibility of wireless communication in competition with Guglielmo Marconi, who also understood the potential of using the air as a medium rather than telegraph cables, which were too easily subject to political control and sabotage.6 Both inventors competed for contracts to extend wireless to a region well connected with telegraph cables and already experiencing the latter’s shortcomings. Initially the Caribbean Sea itself posed an obstacle. According to Charles Bright, who directed the effort, the cables had been laid on “what was undoubtedly the worst bottom that any submarine cable has ever been deposited on.” Coral reefs that ringed the islands repeatedly cut the thick cable covered with gutta-percha, making the extension of telegraphy to the region an arduous and delicate battle with the sea.7 Even as those cables landed, political struggles to control communications were well underway. In conjunction with Western Union, the West India and 2 sign al
Panama Telegraph Company had been founded with the intention of connecting the Caribbean islands to points in Latin America as well as the United States in the 1860s. Soon after the first anticolonial conflict in Cuba erupted in 1868, the Cuba Submarine Telegraph Company, also under the auspices of Western Union, had formed in order to avoid dependence on Spanish land lines.8 De Forest and his rival Marconi sought to persuade communications companies and governments to support their supposedly less vulnerable wireless communication. The battle to control and extend communications was thus driven partly by military concerns. In the aftermath of the Cuban Wars of Independence (1868–98) and the U.S. intervention in Cuba (1898–1902), the United States had acquired a bit of land at the far eastern tip of Cuba, intended as a naval base.9 Frank Butler had been sent to Guantánamo as part of a contract de Forest had secured from the U.S. Navy in 1904.10 Butler’s mission was to bring de Forest’s pioneering efforts in wireless communication to the base under construction. This was the third of four stations that would mark the Caribbean expansion of communication networks in an increasingly bellicose period. Stations in Pensacola, Key West, Guantánamo, and Puerto Rico would eventually enable the Navy to send signals from ship to land, facilitating a sense of control over the area. De Forest’s Cuban station was completed just in time. Not long after the holiday greetings traveled across the air from Guantánamo to Washington, D.C., wireless messages confirmed President Theodore Roosevelt’s orders to invade Cuban soil once again, in the wake of a political crisis in 1906. Once the marines had landed, reports of the first skirmishes arrived via wireless.11 Butler has faded from the historical record, and de Forest would go on to a long career marked by battles over patents, lawsuits, and the creation of key technologies that enabled broadcasting and film sound.12 This forgotten episode in their careers does not fit easily into Cuban or North American narratives of U.S. expansion accomplished with technical certainty or clear-eyed domination over people and environments. Instead, it renders visible the uneven and multidirectional qualities of imperialism.13 The United States was a late arrival to the region, and Butler entered a context already saturated with overlapping British and Spanish imperial presences. Indeed, he depended on them, hiring Jamaicans as assistants and translators, and drawing on Cuban and Spanish expertise with regard to the terrain and remedies to alleviate the bug bites, disease, heat, and other discomforts. At times these overlaps laid bare the improvised qualities of the scheme. Butler had hired Joe Francis, rumored to be a murderer, to splice cables 200 feet in the air. When Francis threatened to stop working sign al
if his pay was not doubled, Butler held him to his task at gunpoint. A week later, a Spanish surveyor was found stabbed to death on the path near the wireless station. Butler noted that the dead man was very close to his own height and build, and Joe Francis disappeared and was never seen again.14 This was, in Fred Cooper’s formulation, “lumpy” imperialism, also itchy, sweaty, and at times, alarming.15
Mapping Wires and Waves As Sidney Mintz has succinctly put it: “Caribbean people have always been entangled with the wider world.”16 If Mintz and many others dwelled, for good reason, on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century slavery and commodity production as a way to understand those enduring connections, this book brings a concern with those crossings and interlacings into the twentieth century. The construction of a wireless station in Guantánamo is part of a longer story of the entangled relationships linking communications technologies, nature, empire, and the poetics of listening. The divergent imperial trajectories of Spain, the United States, and Britain slid past each other in the early twentieth-century Caribbean. Spanish possessions, including Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the eastern half of Hispaniola, were emerging from distinct processes of decolonization. Yet even as Spanish colonial governments departed, thousands of Spanish immigrants arrived in the region. Britain had established its earliest colonies in the seventeenth century and marked the region in important ways. By the early twentieth century, however, imperial expansion marginalized the British Caribbean in relation to the more absorbing potentials of India, Africa, and the Middle East.17 Labor rebellions of the 1930s resulted in a degree of attention to this region, as colonial officials sponsored a flurry of analysis and social reform projects intended to quiet the unruly subjects who had incited those rebellions. But in some ways it was too late, as another war and increasingly vocal anticolonialism pushed British rule toward obsolescence.18 At the same time, the U.S. presence in the Caribbean greatly expanded in the early twentieth century. If Puerto Rico was the only official U.S. territory, Americans insinuated themselves into Caribbean economies and cultural practices and used military occupations to wield power. Throughout the region, residents encountered U.S. expansionism in different ways. The United Fruit Company and the Panama Canal spurred the movement of thousands of workers throughout the region. In 1917, the United States purchased the Danish Virgin Islands.19 Cuba developed various “ties of singular intimacy” with its northern neighbor: occupied from 1898 to 1902 4 sign al
and 1906 to 1909, it also witnessed expansive U.S. investment in sugar and other industries. Baseball, cinema, and consumer goods circulated freely.20 Haiti was subjected to a longer occupation (1915–34) and received considerably less investment.21 Marines were a stronger presence there than businessmen, and while U.S. film stars flocked to Cuba’s swanky hotels, American anthropologists roamed Haiti in search of exotic forms of blackness.22 By World War II, when it built military bases in Trinidad and Jamaica, the United States was a voluble presence and the source of ambivalence, as Caribbean people both acknowledged its appeal and worried about its increasing clout.23 The early and relatively widespread acquisition of radio technologies both propelled and enabled these shifting geopolitical concerns. The region served as a laboratory for trials in technology, format, and content. Following Butler’s efforts, the U.S. military quickly recognized the utility of wireless communications, and Guantánamo became a point through which information about various military ventures flowed. Occupying marines transported radio equipment along with guns to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Intensified commercial ties stimulated plantation owners and emerging enterprises such as the United Fruit Company to implement radio technology to administer their expanding Caribbean ventures.24 Amateur radio operators fanned out in the region, many as employees of sugar plantations, and began tinkering with their equipment to see how far their signals could reach. Between transmitting sugar prices and transport information, they experimented with broadcasts of concerts and sports events. During this period, communications between the islands and New York or Key West were faster and more frequent than those between the East and West Coasts of the United States. Along the way, radio broadcasting inserted itself into those circuits. The New York– based station WEAF opened sister stations in Havana in 1922 and San Juan in 1923. As a result of this early phase of experimentation in which producers and consumers of radio in the Caribbean proved essential, a nascent, unreliable medium became the ubiquitous and enduring global phenomenon. Mapping wires and sound waves as they revised sonic spaces requires attending to shifting notions of the region itself. The Caribbean is not a firmly bounded place but rather a set of claims about space.25 As soldiers, colonial officials, anthropologists, students, planters, merchants, writers, musicians, ham radio operators, engineers, and laborers moved around the Caribbean and North America—Havana, Port-au-Prince, Santiago, Cap Haïtien, Kingston, New York, Washington, Key West—they traced the sign al
outlines of a territory with the Caribbean Sea at the center, a region dense with military, commercial, and cultural circuits. None of these would have been possible without the spatial reimagining afforded by wireless and broadcasting assembled alongside, and as part of, changing geographies of power. The narrative of this book follows the commercial, political, and military concerns that shaped the material transformation of electronic communication. In addition, it attends to the implications of those material transformations for ordinary people. Conceiving of listening as an active rather than passive pursuit enables a quotidian understanding of how Caribbean people might have experienced broadcasting as denizens of neighborhoods, cities, nations, empires, or transnational commercial and military cultures. The analysis takes its cue from Mintz’s observations about the Caribbean’s connections to the wider world, but it also offers a genealogy of those spatial categories. People experience the “wider world,” after all, in part through the mediated information to which they have access. How did the media in question participate in the production of knowledge about shifting relationships to the “wider world”? Under what material circumstances did this occur, and who consumed this knowledge? I argue that wireless and broadcasting helped generate the very idea that the Caribbean and the wider world ought to be imagined as distinct and distant even if increasingly connected. Transformations in practices of communication and listening have been rendered as invisible in the scholarship as the wires erased from Jamaican postcards in order to emphasize the region’s picturesque nature.26 Attending to the power and poetics that informed the implementation of wireless and broadcasting in the region, this book writes wires back into Caribbean history.
The Book’s Pieces The various parts required to generate listening publics organize the narrative. I am interested in what wireless and broadcasting machines were made of, where and how they traveled, and the requirements for their marketing, maintenance, and repair.27 This widens my perspective to include materials such as mica and Bakelite, the laborers involved in assembling the equipment, and the energies and resources required to transport, sell, fix, install, share, and use broadcasting and listening devices. Media history, in this understanding, involves much more than a few men making decisions about the content of a broadcast.28 Radio relied on a series of circuits that connected extractive industries and factory work with the 6 sign al
organization of family and work in the Caribbean. Once assembled, voices and machines circulated within economies of desire and belonging that ignored national boundaries even as they reproduced or generated new social and racial inequalities. The emphasis on things arriving in the Caribbean contributes to and complicates historiographic tendencies that concentrate on things extracted from, or circulating within, the region. Broadcasting and wireless did not arrive fully formed; instead, I argue, the circumstances of their arrival shaped emergent technologies. In A Dying Colonialism, Frantz Fanon recalled the importance of technology to the making of a revolution in French-occupied Algeria. Radios, as material objects arriving from France, carried meanings that changed over time. Before they even spoke, they were the “material representation of the colonial configuration.”29 Although a majority of Algerians may have been able to afford radios, they were unwilling to purchase them and in so doing appear to take up the francophone bourgeois enthusiasm for all things French. Over the course of the revolution, however, the radio came to be the only source of news of the war from a rebel perspective. Possessing a radio came to mean an association with the anticolonial struggle and a connection to other listeners across Algeria united in that struggle. Fanon’s emphasis on the object itself and its mutable nature reminds us of the ambiguous place of technology in narratives about empire and decolonization. The usual elements of a narrative are marginalized here: ideologies, armies, and geopolitical considerations are refracted through their presence or absence on the radio, as Algerians might have experienced them. Those elements existed to the degree that news about them arrived in Algerian homes or cafés. Fanon’s account centers on radios as things and follows the implications of their consumption and circulation. I invoke Fanon as a scholar whose identification of the relevance of technology to empire and decolonization might prompt a rethinking of its role in Caribbean history. Chapter 2 uses the U.S. occupation of Haiti to consider the ways that wireless, as a collection of things and practices, became a tool of governance. I argue that as a tool it wielded a great deal of power but that it was at the same time fragile and poorly understood. The malfunctions and sabotages are as much a part of the story as the chilling uses to which wireless was put. Chapters 3 and 4 move about the Caribbean, settling on episodes that are variations on this theme. Radio and broadcasting grew in Cuba in step with the economic growth of the first decades of the century. Cuban markets seemed a natural target for expanding radio industries. Cubans incorporated long-standing listening habits to the new rhythms sign al
and regulated time of broadcasting. In Jamaica, by contrast, broadcasting was a late and rather aloof arrival, controlled by elite aspirations to use the radio as an instrument of social reform. As Haitians acquired control of broadcasting, they seduced wary listening publics with local musicians and radio personalities. Attention to the diverse conditions in which broadcasting took hold and convoked listeners decenters histories grounded in North American or European experiences. From radios came sounds. In Edouard Glissant’s terms, in the Caribbean “the word is first and foremost sound. Noise is essential to speech. Din is discourse. This must be understood.”30 Glissant roots that observation in a history of slavery and the essential aural communications that occurred between masters and slaves, more often screeches and barks but also whispers and songs. Kamau Brathwaite’s 1979 lecture “History of the Voice” (eventually published as a short book) links Fanon and Glissant as an extended meditation on voice and language, and makes a performative gesture toward the relevance of technology. He anticipates the new framework for cultural history as elaborated by what, in the last decade, has come to be called sound studies.31 His book takes up the question of “nation language,” the term he coined to refer to “the kind of English spoken by the people who were brought to the Caribbean, not the official English now, but the language of slaves and laborers, the servants who were brought in by the conquistadors.” More important than its distinctness from English in words and syntax are the rhythm and the registers those rhythms create.32 For Brathwaite, language and, through that, culture, were enacted through sound: “The poetry, the culture itself, exists not in a dictionary but in the tradition of the spoken word. It is based as much on sound as it is on song.”33 Moreover, orality was conducive to community: “The noise and sounds that the maker makes are responded to by the audience and are returned to him. Hence we have the creation of a continuum where meaning truly resides.”34 Brathwaite harnesses technology to make his point about multivocality, accompanying his lecture with a series of recordings. In the written version, the list of recordings is like a submerged soundtrack affirming the primacy of voice. The sounds of the Jamaican and Haitian versions of “nation language” pervade the pages of this book, and their relationship to electronically reproduced sound was not at all straightforward. Putting creole languages and broadcasting in the same analytic frame troubles dichotomies of tradition and modernity, colonizer and colonized. It recovers a way of imagining nation languages and technology that may be closer to Brathwaite’s presentation of them as mutually constituted. Chapter 5 approaches these questions by seeking out Creole voices in Jamaican and Haitian broadcasting. 8 sign al
Through the voices and interventions of people such as Louise Bennett and Daniel Fignolé, radio amplified and complicated the race of sound, and the sound of race.35 As I argue, these were interventions in conversation with histories of theater and of social science, as creole languages became points of inflection in nationalist politics. To what end? Historian Reynaldo González’s brilliant book Llorar es un placer (Crying is a pleasure), accounts for the popularity of radio in Cuba. In radionovelas, he argues, voices and words provoked in listeners the pleasure of weeping. The melodramatic serial called up emotions and sensations that, according to him, shaped “habits of perception and the foundations of behavior.” González’s insistence on the affective dimension of media informs this book.36 While he invokes ideological manipulation as an interpretive framework, however, I emphasize listening as an active, rather than passive, pursuit. The creation and dissolution of different kinds of listening publics depended on listeners’ openness to being moved as much as on radio’s ability to move listeners.37 That ability was not a given but rather always in play and at risk. Chapter 6 uses the notion of fidelity, meaning both loyalty and approximation to truth, to draw together different dimensions in the creation of listening publics.38 Thinking with fidelity deepens Kate Lacey’s formulation of the “audience as listening public.” Lacey posits listening as a link between the concept of audience and an understanding of the public based on active and engaged listening as a participatory act. “The listening public in this sense is an always latent public,” argues Lacey, “attentive but undetermined. Any intervention in the public sphere is undertaken in the hope, faith or expectation that there is a public out there, ready to listen and to engage.”39 Deviating from Michael Warner’s idea that publics form and disperse, Lacey conjectures a more constant state of “listening in” and asks how it might have shaped political life.40 Similar to Rosalía Winocur’s notion of mediated citizenship, Lacey’s emphasis is on the political aspects of the aural.41 To these I add an affective notion of fidelity as a node through which listening publics, as what Warner has called “extraordinary fictions,” were produced and experienced.42 Beyond an intellectual engagement, listeners’ ties to radio worked through the mingling of desire and habit as they sought entertainment, or information, or provocation. They listened for veracity or fabrication and settled into habits with their attention, giving it to certain stations, or voices, or programs. In particular, I am interested what Brian Larkin has called the media’s “locus as sites for political contest.”43 As tools, wireless and broadcasting proffered new repertoires of contention and participated in, rather than merely reporting on, the events at hand.44 sign al
Historical actors from all points on the ideological spectrum came to comprehend electronically transmitted sound as the idiom through which politics could be conducted. I suggest that attention to technology underwrites an alternative to narratives of political polarization, one that is attuned to transnational networks and emphasizes shared political practices rather than radical ruptures. As the stakes intensified in anti- Batista struggles in Cuba or in the complex electoral politics of 1950s Haiti, radio demanded the fidelity of certain publics, seeking them out in efforts to consolidate power. Subsequently, the “radio wars” in the wake of the Cuban Revolution and Duvalier’s rise in Haiti amplified political struggles as far as the relentless and ferocious transmissions could reach. It is difficult to know where this story ends. Chapter 6 ends with silence as a counterpoint to all the noise. Broadcasting did not blanket the Caribbean with full-blown, completely interconnected circuits but rather created voluble, dense media contexts while other zones remained electronically silent.45 This seemed particularly true in Jamaica, where radio’s relatively late implementation, the mountainous terrain, and continued control by elites wary of the boundaries between proper and improper English diminished its utility as an instrument of politics. Yet listening publics did gather there, if beyond radio’s reach. Sound systems shaped “sonic bodies,” and unmediated political oratory swayed Jamaican voters in the contests leading up to and immediately after independence.46 So it is on the interplay of noise and silence, the contrapuntal relationship linking many voices, on the media and off, sometimes in harmony and sometimes in dissonance, that the narrative finally settles.47 But of course it doesn’t really end. As media became more and more invisibly part of everyday life, they both extended their reach and increased their likelihood of becoming background noise—part of the din of modern existence. Listeners in the Caribbean necessarily took part in what has become a global contemporary task: finding a way through and making sense of what David Foster Wallace called “Total Noise,” that is, “a culture and volume of info and spin and rhetoric and context that I know I’m not alone in finding too much to even absorb, much less make sense of or organize into any kind of triage of saliency or value.”48 If we share Wallace’s sense of the urgency and unlikelihood of successfully performing triage on the “seething static” of daily life, then perhaps it is instructive to attend to the ways that people in the past tried to do so.
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Market women have left few, if any, written records. They worked from dawn until after sunset. They cultivated their small plots of land in the Haitian countryside, growing corn, beans, millet, and maybe tomatoes to sell to city dwellers. Or they spent their days raising children and maintaining households. Every week they engaged in the activities that earned them the name “market women,” each gathering what she had grown and walking a well-worn footpath to the market held that day, hoping to sell her produce. If they sold enough, market women might buy soap, oil, kerosene, or shoes for their own use or in larger quantities to resell in their village or in another market. In the absence of formal marketing and distribution infrastructures, it was through them that food, clothing, money, and household goods circulated on the island. Anthro idney Mintz has written of their centrality to Caribbean econpologist S omies: “Thousands of industrious and daring Haitians, many of them grandmothers, match the output of their husbands and sons, support scores of trucks, feed the cities, sustain the agricultural countryside, educate their children. . . . It is these unlettered peasants who have made the internal market system the vibrant institution it has been for more than two hundred years.”1 If such women generated few documents, scores of observers and scholars have noted, recorded, and remembered their activity in Haiti and throughout the region. In the late nineteenth century, promoters of tourism sought to make images of market women iconic representations of the diligence, productivity, and strength of Caribbean women.2 Mintz, Haitian scholar Paul Moral, and others studied the financial and social implications of the economies they generated. These observers didn’t say much about the circuits of information that market women produced and regulated.3 Yet U.S. military personnel in occupied Haiti (1915–34) immediately understood the relevance of market talk and the formidable challenge it posed. 11
As the women walked, they talked. They talked to each other, to their friends and acquaintances, to passersby. At the market they talked as well. Gossip, rumors, warnings, news, jokes, and stories circulated amid the produce, people, and animals.4 Infrastructures of telephone and telegraph followed logics of empire and capital, while market circuits followed logics of produce and terrain—determined by paths carved out of the hilly and verdant Haitian countryside that could lead vendors to towns quickly, before their goods spoiled. Different kinds of markets characterized distinct regions in Haiti. In the north, the main market took place in SaintRaphaël, both on a weekly and daily basis. Saint-Raphaël was situated between Cap Haïtien and Hinche, which would become centers of U.S. Marines’ activity in their efforts to combat insurgents, dubbed Cacos. It was along the roads and paths connecting these cities that market women traveled, alongside military correspondence circulating in the region. These roads were bumpy, rough, and became nearly impassible as they headed south toward Port-au-Prince. Haitians navigated the routes with the cattle and mules they reared and tended. The complex system of buyers, sellers, and intermediaries meant that goods traveled with and passed between many people before reaching their final destination. The need for cash to purchase manufactured goods such as machetes, shoes, or baskets meant that almost everyone had to go to market, if only to sell one or two items, in order to obtain the necessary cash. The market circuits encompassed everyone and formed chains and channels along which many people interacted on a regular basis. Here “coils of rumor” found a propitious setting in which to grow and propagate.5 Indeed, the Kreyòl word telediol, variously translated as “rumor” or “gossip,” has its roots in the English word telegraph, and was often said to function more efficiently. The marines would find this to be the case.6 Necessarily evanescent, rumors have also left fragmentary traces in the record. But their force occasionally shook the fractious political landscape of postrevolutionary Haiti. Early twentieth-century Haitian society and politics contended with the legacies of the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804), which had ended slavery and won independence while remaining surrounded by slaveholding colonies.7 The divisions between elites and the broader population had deepened as elites captured the state and imposed an onerous taxation system on small-scale farmers. During the nineteenth century, the state itself was buried in enormous debt as a result of the indemnities imposed by France in the revolution’s aftermath. By 1914 politicians were embroiled in conflict as their factions sought power without opening the state to popular participation. At the same time, the Haitian 12 cir cu its
state had ceded authority over its finances by taking out loans from the French and German governments to pay its debt. The U.S. administration sought to challenge French and German financial activities in the region and endeavored to gain control of Haitian customhouses. In the face of Haitian resistance and the continuing presence of French and German merchants and advisors, the U.S. military and diplomatic corps, hovering around Cuba and the Panama Canal, grew increasingly nervous. They lingered in Port-au-Prince’s harbor and made plans to invade. In late July 1915 a political crisis in which President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam ordered the execution of 167 political prisoners prompted both domestic opposition and U.S. intervention.8 A rumor sparked the violence that the U.S. military used to justify its occupation of Haiti. Admiral William Banks Caperton, in charge of U.S. forces, testified six years later that on seeing the USS Washington floating off Port-au-Prince’s shores, residents of the city surmised that the Americans were coming to whisk Guillaume Sam away from vengeful opponents. This rumor mobilized the large crowd that rushed the French legation, removed Guillaume Sam, then killed and dismembered him.9 Although it could also be read as evidence of American arrogance and a propensity to interfere, this incident—cited by military officials and subsequent histories as evidence of Haiti’s ungovernability—gave U.S. officials immediate cause to land and occupy Haiti for the next nineteen years.10 This chapter begins with and remains attuned to the circuits through which news and information traveled. These circuits included people, telephones, telegraph, wireless, and paper. Rather than focus on a single medium, I will attend here to the variety of media people used to transmit and archive information.11 This approach discloses connections between the hopeful romanticism driving the implementation of wireless technologies and the violent practices in which the occupation was rooted. The narrative of this chapter circles from the arrival of U.S. forces to a series of incidents in the town of Hinche, to the investigation of those incidents, and back again to Hinche through a different archive. Rather than offer a comprehensive, sequential history of the occupation, the chapter traces connections linking media, information, and violence in order to raise questions about the status of truth and of truth-making. It is circuitous rather than chronological because it follows information and doubles back to uncover previously hidden material. One question that animates the pages that follow is how technology, and especially new technology, was implicated in the production of knowledge and notions of truth in a context of military encounter. Lisa Gitelman cir cu its
has argued that because “the subjects and the instruments of public history cannot be pulled apart,” histories of the media must be conducted with a great deal of reflexivity.12 Tracing new media in the context of the occupation in Haiti yields a history of as well as through the media. The chapter outlines a history of the production of knowledge and ignorance about the occupation. It yields a history of truths archived and silenced, and of efforts to produce truth through violence.
Machines U.S. Marines entered a context overflowing with information to which they had very little access. Completely excluded from the rich and effective circuits of talk to which most Haitians were attuned, marines tried to create their own infrastructures of communication through telegraph and wireless radio devices, machines which had been developed for precisely that reason. Radio sets landed in January 1915, preceding the July invasion by six months. U.S. ships traveled from the naval base in Guantánamo Bay to Haitian waters in response to news that the government of Joseph Davilmar Théodore faced an armed opposition led by Vilbrun Guillaume Sam. Admiral Caperton had sailed from Cap Haïtien to Port-au-Prince, but since he was positioned offshore, he sought a way to remain in close communication with his contacts in the city: “I mounted a field radio set at the American legation for purposes of communication.”13 With that, he was able to discern the tone of politics from afar. Guillaume Sam took the presidency in early March, in a climate of sufficient order for Caperton to return to Guantánamo. By July, however, the political drama threatened to turn violent, and Caperton sailed back to Haiti. Arriving in Cap Haïtien, he sent another ship to Port-au-Prince for news. Apparently, communication networks could not reach a ship offshore in Cap Haïtien, and there were no telegraph lines connecting the two major Haitian cities. Cap Haïtien did have telegraph service, but it was linked to other ports rather than urban centers, as was common for early cable networks in the Caribbean. Cap Haïtien was connected via telegraph to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, New York City, and Môle-Saint-Nicolas, a small town located on the far western tip of Haiti, closest to the United States, but not close to Port-au-Prince.14 Evidently the best source for reliable news in Cap Haïtien was a personally delivered report from Port-au-Prince, presumably issued by the American legation there.15 Once Caperton learned that a conflict was simmering between Rosalvo Bobo and a General Blot, both contenders for the Haitian presidency, he 14 cir cu its
took two actions in order to fulfill his proclaimed duty to protect American lives and property. First, he sent requests to each of the parties in conflict, asking that they hold their battles outside of the city. In a somewhat surreal spirit of cooperation, they agreed, and Caperton thus had no justification for a full-blown landing. But he could justify landing another radio set: “This was on July 3. In order to facilitate the communication between the American consulate and the USS Washington I established a field radio set at the railroad station on American property . . . and landed a party of one officer and eleven marines and one operator to guard and operate the radio set. I informed General Blot of my intention to land these men, and he made no objection.”16 This, Caperton imagined, would keep him apprised of the conflict as he remained offshore and anchored in a distant harbor. In the end, the radio set would enjoy more security than the unfortunate president of the Republic of Haiti.
Sending Word Once their arrival turned into a full-blown occupation, controlling the flow of information became a priority for Americans on the ground. They launched a strategy that entailed harnessing the channels that already existed, including telegraphs, telephones, and market women. Eventually the Gendarmerie would be drawn in as well. That body, with Haitians in the lower ranks and American officers, was created in 1915 with the intention of using Haitian forces to subdue armed uprisings against the occupation.17 Just a month after the U.S. landing, the regimental commander of the First Brigade stationed in Cap Haïtien gave the following advice to his commanding officer: “I am sending you a few handbills which I will thank you to have distributed to the most intelligent market women leaving the town. If possible it should be ascertained, that the women to whom these bills are given can read and it should also be explained to them that the bills are for the information of the private soldiers pertaining to the Caco forces and not for the chiefs.”18 If the trusting optimism with which they assumed the women would do their bidding was in all likelihood misguided, their perception of the women’s role as conduits of information was not. Marines quickly understood that they were being watched. As one observer noted: “Information spreads rapidly from mouth to mouth. Military men tell me that they never make a patrol or inspection without finding themselves expected at their destination.”19 In their seemingly harmless ambulatory routines of selling and gossiping, these women surveilled the marines and passed on what they knew cir cu its
to potential insurgents.20 According to journalist Harry Franck, “Market women . . . swarming all over Haiti have always been the chief channel of information for the cacos, with whom they are in the main friendly.”21 Politicians in Haiti often relied on markets and their systems of circulating information in their efforts to govern. In 1920, President Philippe Sudré Dartiguenave undertook a tour of the country, “sending word” that he was planning to speak at the markets, visiting several on his tour, and, once there, appealing in Kreyòl to the women to do what they could to persuade the bandits to cease their activities.22 Eventually, some marines tried to insert themselves into these circuits to disseminate information they wanted “the Haitian people” to know. What the people knew and the ways they might spread information became a tool of governance. The commander of the First Provisional Brigade noted in a report that “propaganda in the form of proclamations was freely used. . . . such proclamations were always read by the magistrate at the market place on market days in order that they might reach the greatest number of people.”23 Marines also tried to enlist market women and local villagers as informants to discern the whereabouts of Cacos, in a tactic that mimicked those of the insurgents themselves.24 At times, encounters and attempts to glean information from these circuits broke down amid mistrust and suspicion. Captain Jesse L. Perkins’s account of a tour with journalist Herbert Seligmann in 1920, five years after the beginning of the occupation, signals the jagged process of miscommunication. The journalist, a frequent contributor to the U.S. newsmagazine The Nation who would subsequently write a searing critique of the occupation, had joined a marine patrol in search of one of the insurgent leaders known as Benoît Batraville. A particularly macabre story had spurred this search. Batraville was suspected of involvement in the death of Haitian gendarme Lieutenant Lawrence Muth just as the patrol was heading out. Muth’s body had been found in a mutilated state. The marines received “information” that his killers had taken his heart and a strip of flesh from his thigh and eaten them. Further incriminating Batraville was the allegation that he had “taken the head and used the brains to grease rifles, informing his men that this would improve their shooting.”25 If this was one of the stories trafficked, constituting what Michael Taussig has referred to as the “narratives [that] are in themselves evidence of the process whereby a culture of terror was created and sustained,” then the marines participated in generating these fantasies that in turn justified terror. But the marines were also wary of repercussions from stories circulating about their own activities and proceeded with both fear and caution. 16 cir cu its
Armed with the story of Muth’s death, and conscious of his own role in generating stories, Perkins’s anxiety over Seligmann’s role shaped his memory of the event. Seligmann claimed to be interested in documenting and praising the marines’ work in Haiti, and he spent some time, according to Perkins, shooting photographs of market days, funeral rituals, and other everyday peasant scenes. During their patrol they came across a woman harvesting vegetables from a garden. Her hurried and wary demeanor led them to suspect that she was gathering food for insurgents. When they approached her, she fled. According to Perkins, this was final proof of her guilt. He remembered that he caught her without shooting her, “as that was forbidden anyway.” When asked where the trail was, she said there wasn’t one, and Perkins, claiming to know this was a lie, “resorted to fear.” He does not detail his methods, but they convinced her to promise to take them to someone who did know the trail. After leading them through the woods for an hour or so, however, she tried to escape again. Seligmann tried speaking to her in French and then, frustrated, said, “Shoot her, she has lied to you four times already.” Perkins reminded Seligmann that shooting was forbidden and, moreover, once word got out, it would stir up a great deal of discontent in the countryside. Instead, he would try scaring her by tying a cord around her neck and pretending to hang her. “I did not attempt to string her up,” continued Perkins’s report, “but Seligmann begged me to, as he said he wanted to take a Kodak picture of the scene. He wanted as many marines as possible in the picture. He said it was for his amusement. I did not string her up and no picture was taken.”26 Existing information circuits in Haiti were as powerful as they were ephemeral. They defined the marines’ experience as they struggled to understand and intrude on them.
Cables, Coils, and Wires In addition to the ongoing battle to hear, or overhear, what market women were saying, the U.S. military also tried to create its own communications networks through telegraph, telephone, and barely tested wireless equipment. Haiti had acquired a telephone and telegraph network in the mid1880s, via the West India Telegraph and Telephone Company, which also controlled those technologies in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. The circuits were intended to forge connections between the islands and the United States and were part of an effort to extend telegraphy throughout Latin America in the 1880s.27 Although the marines had landed with the proclaimed intention to protect U.S. properties, in fact they immediately cir cu its
understood that it would be crucial to protect Haitian infrastructure that would enable the flow of information.28 Apparently unsatisfied with bypassing existing modes of communication, as they had been doing with the radio sets installed by Caperton, U.S. officials sought access to Haitian telephone and telegraph networks as well. Although initially the marines deemed these infrastructures unreliable, they knew that Haitian telegraph operators could manipulate communications to thwart American intentions. Indeed, transmitting messages was often a fraught and contentious exercise. The correspondence among consuls frequently discusses the difficulties caused by the postal and telegraph systems. Alongside accounts of the fortunes of various political factions, letters complained about the refusal of French steamers to accept private correspondence, the frequent reluctance of telegraph operators to transmit telegrams, and the absence of mail service between Port-au-Prince and Cap Haïtien.29 When U.S. forces made clear their intention to control communications networks already in place, the Haitian congress balked. Eventually the American occupying forces wrested a concession granting oversight to an engineer nominated by the U.S. president and appointed by the Haitian congress. In effect, officers of the gendarmerie gained full access to the telegraph and telephone service. They also took on an obligation to protect the lines. Despite the early adoption of this treaty and the perceived urgency of assuring that lines of communication were accessible, implementation of the treaty fell prey to contingency and lack of funds. A report submitted by Carl Kelsey, a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, referred to slow progress. The first engineer had not appeared on the scene until January 1917, and then he had had to wait until the end of that year for funding to hire assistants or other employees. Finally in February 1918 the gendarmerie took charge of the management of Haitian telegraph and telephone service.30 The radio sets the marines brought with them were new technologies, still in the experimental phase. They had realized the utility of portable field radios “from the observations made by the Division Commander whilst in Guantánamo last summer during the troubles in the eastern end of Cuba of the usefulness of the portable field radio sets by listening in to the Cuban radio sets used in the field.”31 The “troubles” to which they referred were protests and an armed uprising led by the banned Partido Independiente de Color (Independent Party of Color), which was brutally repressed by Cuban forces after U.S. forces landed in the spring of 1912.32 The connection between war and wireless made a strong impression on military personnel, some of whom pushed for further implementation 18 cir cu its
of new technologies. But their ambitions collided with the realities of the state of the art. In 1913, the Navy department asked commanders of the Atlantic Fleet to see if they could improvise some portable radio sets. The reports that came in indicated some success with extemporized assembly. “For transmitting,” crews had used “Shoemaker Leyden Jars, 2 old boat ignition coils and 2 exide storage batteries of approximately 20 volts. At first a 3 wire aerial of about 50 feet long was tried, but without success although an old Marconi tuning inductance was used.” Crews from three ships shared and traded apparatuses and managed to assemble one set. The grounding for both sending and receiving was obtained by connecting to a water pipe. They acquired a receiver from the USS Nebraska and other apparatuses from the USS Virginia. Between 1912 and 1915, the Navy produced three different models, each presumably an improvement over the last.33 By 1915, ships no longer had to improvise, and they received sets made especially for their requirements. The set that Caperton landed in January had been built, tested, sent to Veracruz, and finally put on the USS Washington.34 Along with the radio placed in the American Legation, marines took with them eight other portable radio sets as they fanned out across the countryside.35 They erected poles, strung wire, built huts for their apparatuses, and tended to and tinkered with their machines. When they were sent on patrol, they carried, along with food, clothing, tents, and other necessities, the radio sets and their accessories: “one Colt lantern, one heliograph, two large signal flags, one white, one red, six extra charges, two field message books, 50 field message envelopes.” Lugging radio sets around required additional energy, resources, knowledge, and time. In another effort to avail themselves of existing systems and conscript Haitians to their aims, military officers deemed that equipment ought to be carried by “mules and native carriers, both of which will be seized and impressed if necessary.”36 It was not clear to officers or enlisted men whether the machines would make all that much difference. The records frequently allude to doubts about the circuits they were trying to construct and repair. In one order issued soon after the landing, Major Smedley D. Butler asked a Captain Hooker to “try to keep work on road and telephone going as wireless is unsatisfactory.”37 And if the wireless was unsatisfactory, the telephone lines proved a continual drain on time and resources. The admonition to “work on the telephone line” would become a frequently repeated refrain, rounding out numerous communiqués with its exasperated, bedraggled tones. cir cu its
U.S. Marines building infrastructure in Haiti. (Ronald E. Fisher Collection, folder 4, COLL/362, Archives and Special Collections Branch, Library of the Marine Corps, Quantico, Va.)
Hinche, 1918–1919 In a conflict that unfolded in the town of Hinche and its surroundings over the months between November 1918 and March 1919, radio sets were part of a vexed drama that played out as marines struggled to get information from whatever source they could. When the marines landed in 1915, they had met immediate hostility from Haitians opposed to a U.S. presence. Armed conflicts ended within months, as marines killed hundreds of Haitian rebels. Three years later, the United States forced Haitians to adopt a new constitution that allowed foreigners to own land. In addition, they revived the corvée, an enforced labor regime, in order to build roads between Port-au-Prince and Cap Haïtien. Public outcry and armed opposition led to the termination of the corvée in 1918, but the termination was unevenly enforced, and the labor regimes continued in some parts of the country, including Hinche. Situated in central Haiti between Port-au-Prince and Cap Haïtien, Hinche had been a particularly violent place in the early years of the occupation, and it continued to be a center of armed opposition to the U.S. presence.38 Charlemagne Péralte, the son of a prominent family in the region, had in the initial years of the occupation made his hostility known to U.S. officials. Sentenced to five years’ hard labor and imprisoned in Cap Haïtien in October 1917, he had escaped by October 1918. Marines in the region heard rumors that he had gathered men in and around Hinche in order to launch attacks on U.S. forces. Preparations for these attacks consumed the attention of marines and gendarmes during those months. On October 17, 1918, a radiogram to the chief of the gendarmerie signaled the initiation of violence, describing an attack on October 14 at 9:40 p.m. by forces led by “Charle Magne Prevalt” (a first of many versions of Péralte’s name). Two gendarmes were killed and three went missing. Péralte’s forces, according to the radiogram, lost twenty-eight men. The radiogram also announced an additional casualty: “telegraph line down . . . message was received by courier.”39 Written documentation in the form of phone messages and correspondence concerning this initial battle reveals distinct efforts to make sense of and to narrate the violence. Three separate observers recorded an incident involving Lieutenant Freeman Lang. The transcription of a phone message sent by James Tracy recalled that “natives” had brought news that Charlemagne “Preval” had escaped from prison and was planning an attack within the next few days. Although Tracy said that they did not report these rumors to their superiors, they nonetheless took precautions, drilling the gendarmes and preparing for an attack. When Péralte’s forces cir cu its
did attack, Lang, who had been stationed nearby with a group of gendarmes, advanced on his forces and managed to kill, according to Tracy, twelve of the insurgents. During that advance, however, two gendarmes who could not quite keep up fired their weapons and killed two members of their own brigade, “on either side of Lt. Lang.” Lang immediately disarmed them, but Tracy suggested rather cryptically “that was the case of him losing his head.”40 When the assistant chief of the gendarmerie wrote to the chief about the same incident, it was a near exact transcription of this letter, but the line about Lang’s “losing his head” was expunged and replaced by praise for Lang’s “courage and leadership,” especially since he had been “exposed to a heavy fire at close range.”41 A third account of this incident, from the district commander, Lieutenant Patrick Kelly, offered more details, suggesting that the gendarmes who had shot members of their brigade had not been left behind but rather remained behind and continued to stand while their colleagues had been ordered to lie down and shoot. Kelly gave a precise accounting of the shooting: “Private Lucas Pierre, on the left of Lang, was shot through the head and killed, Private Petit Homme Florival on the right of Lang was shot through the neck and killed, both men were shot from behind by gendarmes. Lang raised up and turning his head to the rear gave the command to cease firing but at that moment a bullet fired by the gendarmes in the rear burned the whiskers on his cheek and temporarily blinded him.”42 One week later the brigade commander reported on the skirmishes to the chief of the gendarmerie. He noted that he had sent more men and guns to the area and asked if it was possible to send a field radio set and reestablish a connection “until the district is entirely cleaned up.”43 Some weeks later, telephone messages confirmed that Lieutenant Lang had requested a discharge rather than extend his stay in Haiti.44 The episode seems to have haunted him until his final days in Haiti. Subsequent investigations about “atrocities” committed in Hinche would circle back to Lang. Marines worked to maintain and coax unreliable modes of electronic communication and weighed the weaknesses of one against the other. Wireless proved invaluable in remote areas, but it was in constant disrepair and understood as easily intercepted. It would be crucial in Hinche, which was not connected by telephone to Cap Haïtien or Ouanaminthe. The telegraph and telephone lines required maintenance, frequent repair, and parts that were difficult to obtain. When he took command in Hinche, Major Clark H. Wells laid out some procedures that accounted for vulnerabilities, including the possibility that the machines would work too well: “Major Wells directs that Stallworth will not send any messages by radio 22 cir cu its
unless Lavoie censors the message. That Lavoie will censor all messages before sending. That radio will not be used for sending messages, except in case of danger.”45 And he asked panicky questions at the appearance of a new machine: “Who sent radio. Is radio working?”46 At the same time, Wells worked to ensure that the telephone lines were in good working order. In a message from November 1918, he wrote, “I want you to see that the telephone line between Lemielle and Carice is put in excellent condition during your stay at Lemielle. Cut down all trees and brush that might interfere with the wire. New batteries are on their way to you.”47 More often than not, however, the telephone failed. Another message, relayed by hand, said “have not been able to telephone Hinche since 27th.”48 Information was key to thwarting Péralte, and new methods were proving unreliable. Major John L. Doxey, eschewing electronic media, ordered that “reliable natives” be sent out “to all parts of the District, and it is expected they will find out the whereabouts of remaining small bands and Charlemagne Péralte.”49 A few weeks later (in November 1918) Ernest Lavoie arrived to take Lieutenant Kelly’s place as district commander. One of his first actions was to create a “secret police force among people whose families have been ravished by bands.” According to a colleague, “the information received by them is believed to be absolutely reliable.”50 Lavoie himself was proud of his “secret service” men, if somewhat confusing about their methods: “The fine work done by the secret service men . . . has been the means of keeping these bands located but as there are always conflicting reports from various sources, too much faith cannot be taken in any reports until the truth of the report has been proven.”51 How precisely he imagined truth emerging from conflicting reports, faulty equipment, and circular logic remains unexplained. Informants such as Lavoie’s were crucial intermediaries for marines who found themselves amid the incomprehensible signals of Haitian insurgents. One report dwelled on the unintelligible sound of resistance. When Haitians communicate with one another, wrote Lieutenant H. R. Wood, they “make a lot of noise” and “yell and blow conch shells.” Another report also tells of Haitians “yelling to one another” as well as blowing conch shells. Eventually the marines learned to eliminate some sounds of danger; when they came upon a drum, for instance, they destroyed it.52 By February 1919, the reports of patrols recorded a pattern. A report by Lieutenant Kelly narrates a sequence of events in which an inhabitant arrived “breathless” to report that a band of men (presumably insurgents) was about to attack the town. In the battle that ensued, gendarmes and marines overpowered the insurgents, forcing them to retreat. cir cu its
The marines then embarked on a patrol of the area with the intention of finding encampments. They surmised that any noncombatants in the region would have to be protecting the insurgents “or they would have been driven away.” During one such foray marines captured a market woman and demanded information. The next morning she led them to a place in the mountains where she claimed the encampment was, but there was nothing there. Then she declared that although there was one nearby, she was lost. She described the camp and the people in it. By the time subsequent patrols found the camp, it was empty and seemed to have been abandoned for a few days.53 The marines, lethal, lost, and misled, often floundered in their efforts to secure information. By feigning cooperation and delaying, local inhabitants were able to thwart the marines’ pursuit of insurgents. Meanwhile, “Haitian propaganda” uncovered a network led by the local priest, who encouraged Haitian residents to report to him the whereabouts and comings and goings of American officers. The priest effectively turned the Americans’ “secret service” into his own, and used informants as double agents to spy on American marines. U.S. officials felt their hold on territory—if it ever existed—slipping away. According to Doxey’s letter to Colonel Wells, “It is very necessary for all officers stationed in the district to remain here. First because these small bands are going to continue to steal and will have to be caught or wiped out. Second, because the Haitian citizens think the officers have no power here and their influence is having these officers removed.”54 Another tactic indicated the extent to which Haitian insurgents availed themselves of the materials provided by the U.S. military: “On account of bandits using gendarmes’ uniforms in an attack on road force yesterday, orders have been issued by the brigade commander to fire on all persons outside of town in that uniform.”55 Throughout the spring of 1919, communications technology thwarted marines as insurgents preyed on the occupiers’ vulnerabilities. In February, a telephone message noted that “our telegraph line men have returned from Thomonde, saying bandits are destroying lines as rapidly as they are built. But do you consider it advisable for him to return to work immediately to complete line from Thomonde to Las Cahobas[?]”56 In March came the plea: “Repair the line between Ouanaminthe and Hinche immediately. Will have some orders to transmit tomorrow morning and messenger will be too slow. Be sure to get this message through.”57 Why not use the radio? It wasn’t working, and the circuitous path of the message itself suggests the tenuous nature of its travels: “From Hinche, for Cap Haitien, to be radioed to Port au Prince to Brigade Commander for Signal Officer: station here constantly out of commission suggest you send 24 cir cu its
supplies and an officer to get station in shape to handle traffic. It cannot be depended on at present.”58 By October, the insurgent attacks on communications circuits had grown in sophistication throughout the region: “The telephone was used by the Railroad Company all yesterday the 7th, but at about 6 p.m., they destroyed the line and spoiled the telephone receiver. They cut the poles, chopped the wire into small pieces. They carried off the receiver and the pieces of wire. Near Pont Casse (Roy) two poles on either side of the station were cut down. The linemen found that the poles near Source Puante had been destroyed.”59 The scramble to control information circuits continued in the search for Charlemagne Péralte in October 1919. Harry Franck’s account, written several months later and drawn from participants’ reports and notes, suggests that marines turned away from their electronics and mimicked their stated enemy. Sergeant Herman H. Hanneken, ambitious and “with time weighing on his hands,” decided to devote that time to capturing and killing Péralte.60 He used his knowledge of Kreyòl to convince Jean-Baptiste Conzé, a “good Haitian” police chief, to join the Cacos undercover. Conzé created his own band and told the market women. Word traveled and Hanneken’s “secret police” reported this development back to him. Acting according to their plan, Conzé attacked the town and declared forcefully against Hanneken. The townspeople then begged Hanneken to intervene. Through back channels, Hanneken secured an alliance between Péralte and Conzé, who became Péralte’s private secretary. With his ally working for Péralte, Hanneken and ten gendarmes prepared for battle by dressing up as Cacos, and he and Corporal William Button completed their disguise by applying blackface, rubbing their skin with “cold cream and lampblack.” They managed, in their disguises (it was dark), to get past several groups of sentries, find Péralte sitting by a fire, and kill him. The way they handled the corpse and news of his death shows their simultaneous attention to two different methods of confirming truth. According to Franck’s report, One of the problems of the pacifiers at present is to convince the ignorant caco rank and file that the great Charlemagne is dead. His superstitious followers credit him with supernatural powers . . . the public display of his body at Grand Rivière [Grande-Rivière-du-Nord] and Cap Haitien produced an effect that will not soon be forgotten by those who witnessed it, but even that has not fully convinced the cacos hidden far away in the mountains. So great was the veneration, or perhaps the superstition, in which he was held, that it was found necessary to cir cu its
give him five fake funerals in as many different places, as a blind, and to bury his body secretly in an out of the way spot, lest his grave become a shrine of pilgrimage for future cacos.61 In addition, they drew on the imagined power of photography and mechanical reproduction: marine airplanes dropped thousands of photographs of Charlemagne Péralte’s corpse all over the countryside, in case news of the five funerals had not reached all inhabitants.62
Archives and Atrocities, 1920–1921 Meanwhile, Haitian intellectuals worked to make the violence of the occupation known in the United States. The Union Patriotique, an organization of intellectuals and journalists formed in opposition to the occupation in 1915 and quickly disbanded, reconstituted itself in 1920. It established a network of chapters throughout the countryside and through weekly meetings and reports created a circuit of information about marine activities. In addition, its members also reached out to organizations in the United States, such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), to disseminate their critique of the occupation and call for an accounting of the violence.63 When details of the marines’ fierce reprisals began to emerge, demands arose in both nations for an official investigation. In the United States, a series of articles in The Nation, beginning with one published by Herbert Seligmann in July 1920 (just eight months after Péralte’s death), condemned the occupation. In his impassioned attack on the “indefensible invasion of a helpless country,” he listed the crimes. These included censorship of the press: the Associated Press, for example, claimed that military censorship had prevented it from sending a “single cable dispatch concerning military operations” in three years and that “newspapers have been suppressed in Port au Prince and the editors placed in jail on purely political grounds.” Notwithstanding Captain Perkins’s claim that Seligmann had urged him to shoot a Haitian woman, the journalist accused the marines of talking “of ‘bumping off’ (i.e., killing) ‘Gooks’ as if it were a variety of sport like duck hunting.” He also claimed to have “heard officers and men in the United States Marine Corps say they thought the island should be ‘cleaned out’; that all the natives should be shot; that shooting was too good for them; that they intended taking no prisoners. . . . I have seen prisoners’ faces and heads disfigured by beatings administered to
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them and have heard officers discussing those beatings. . . . I know that men and women have been hung by the neck until strangulation compelled them to give information.”64 The Nation continued its campaign against the occupation with two articles, titled “Self-Determining Haiti,” by poet, lawyer, and NAACP activist James Weldon Johnson. In the first, subtitled “The U.S. Occupation,” Johnson laid out a legal and jurisprudential case against the occupation, in which he argued that the United States had acted with illegal and unconstitutional methods as it came to exercise full control over Haitian government and finances.65 In the second, subtitled “What the United States Has Accomplished,” he wrote more directly about conditions for Haitians on the ground, opening with a claim that “the truth about the conquest of Haiti” consisted of “the slaughter of three thousand practically unarmed Haitians and the needless death of a score of American boys.” The ironic list of accomplishments included the road between P ort-au-Prince and Cap Haïtien, which had not only given rise to the insurgency that had spurred so much violence but had also proven dangerous to Haitians who walked on the road and had to contend with automobiles driven by Americans: “I have seen these people scramble in terror often up the side or down the declivity of the mountain for places of safety for themselves and their animals as the machines snorted by.” Johnson also pointed out that the gendarmerie was officered by ex-marines, who were “rough, uncouth and uneducated” and often “violently steeped in race prejudice.” In effect, “brutalities and atrocities on the part of American marines have occurred with sufficient frequency to be the cause of deep resentment and terror.”66 At the same time, the presidential campaign in the United States gave Warren Harding an opportunity to criticize incumbent Woodrow Wilson for his handling of the Haitian crisis. Once elected, Harding commissioned a Senate inquiry to be conducted by a special select committee, chaired by Senator Medill McCormick. Members of the committee arrived in Haiti in late November 1921 and spent eight days there, gathering thousands of pages of testimony and reports and collecting affidavits and statements from Haitian citizens, many of them invited by the Union Patriotique. The committee also received testimony from gendarmes and marines, as well as officers and other individuals who proffered some expertise.67 The completed Senate Inquiry into the Occupation of Haiti and Santo Domingo (1921–1922), an archive of interviews, testimonies, statistics, maps, and accounts totaling nearly 2,000 pages, is a textual enactment of the production of knowledge and the performance of violence as intertwined
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processes.68 Communications technologies both played a role in and recorded events as they engendered that archive.69 The radio sets that had preceded the initial landing in 1915 generated the reports and orders that served as an official memory of events. Admiral Caperton’s frequent reference to the telegrams and radiograms underscored his hope that these documents would clarify and order the disorder of occupation. The claim was that these documents, compiled into multiple volumes, remembered everything, even things the admiral had forgotten: “Every move I made and every move that was made by the forces of the government and the revolutionary forces I reported daily, and sometimes twice a day, to the department here in Washington, so that I have all this down chronologically.” But there was so much information that it undermined its own purpose: “It is a little hard to refresh my memory, as I have about twenty of these volumes.”70 Caperton privileged the accuracy of the archive of cables and telegrams over his own memory. Most telling is the exchange between him and the chairman of the committee during his interview: Q: What is that volume? A: This is a report that Major McClellan has gotten up from my reports. You see, it is a copy. Q: Do you not think you would do better just to tell us the story in your own language? A: Yes, I can tell you a good many things, but I think perhaps it is due to me. I could tell you what I did, but perhaps I would not be able to give you my authority for writing.71 Caperton read the message that he seemed to think justified the landing: “French legation invaded by a mob of about 60 Haitians, better class. President Guillaume forcibly removed from upstairs room and killed at legation gate, and body cut in pieces and paraded about town.”72 The historiography of the U.S. occupation has echoed this passage, marking it as the beginning of the occupation.73 It has ignored what Caperton himself remembered and stated “in his own words” during his interview, in which the appearance of a U.S. ship prompted the rumors that led to the killing of President Guillaume. In the committee’s efforts to clarify the number of killings that occurred, radiograms served as the primary pieces of evidence. Major Thomas Turner’s replies to questions by the board of examiners speak to an uneasy relationship with the records: On the one hand, they afforded an opportunity to concretely count the number of dead (in this instance). But on the 28 cir cu its
other hand, their absence, or fragility as material objects, indicated also that there were some things that couldn’t be known. Q: There have been no compilations, then, of the number of encounters with bandits since 1915? A: Not that I know of. Q: Is it possible to make such a compilation? A: Yes, sir, but I doubt if it would be correct. It would be approximate. It would necessitate going back to the radiograms since 1915; but some of those records—some of those old records in 1915, 1916, and 1917, are in bad shape.74
Hinche, 1918–1919 If getting at the truth motivated the questioners in some of these hearings, hiding it occupied a great deal of the marines’ time. The inquiry circled back to Hinche and its vexed relationship with information. The disappearance of a report in the mail provided the impetus for Major General Commandant John LeJeune and Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler to visit Haiti and conduct a new investigation in Hinche. The precise numbers of dead were at the heart of the investigation. The evidence suggests that marines and gendarmes spent a great deal of their time producing mendacity. Major Wells, in command at Hinche, seemed determined to control the flow of information. The committee learned that as soon as orders to stop the corvée were issued in 1918, Wells, in an effort to stop the dissemination of that news, demanded the destruction of all newspapers delivered to Hinche. Captain Lavoie cooperated with Wells’s plan. He testified that in one incident, he signaled a deceptive report of “all quiet” on the radio to Cap Haïtien, even as he handwrote and sent a personal message to Wells describing a battle on the same day. In another instance, a captain who reported a skirmish via the radio was reprimanded and removed to a different post. Since the gendarmerie was under explicit orders to report “all quiet” no matter what violence had ensued, or how many had died, many events at Hinche were absent from the official record. The testimony of Edward Sieger, a former marine and officer of the gendarmerie, made explicit the coincidence of orders of violence with orders of silence: he stated that Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Williams had said to Lavoie that “if he found any of them that were Cacos, and actually had arms in their possession, to do away with them. . . . he further stated that he was in Hinche. . . . and heard shots one afternoon . . . cir cu its
and was told that it was some gendarmes ‘bumping off’ (shooting) prisoners out toward the cemetery.”75 Furthermore, Sieger said that “Major Wells told him to report ‘everything quiet’ and not to make any reports of Caco troubles.”76 Acknowledging the marines’ awareness that they were being surveilled from Washington, D.C. as they surveilled Haitians, “everything quiet” resonates with Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s invocations of archives riddled with silences.77 At times, the impulse to record and the impulse to hide resulted in clumsy manipulations. There was much talk in the testimonies and depositions of former Hinche gendarmerie officers of a locked drawer that contained reports of unlawful killings. These might indeed reflect badly on officers’ practices. When Major Wells was finally called to testify, he acknowledged the presence of the locked drawer full of telegrams and messages, claiming that it was justified because it contained confidential information about “suspicious natives.” He conceded that the entire contents of the locked drawer had subsequently disappeared. The machines did not always cooperate with Wells’s plan to control the making of the record. In this instance, they produced material evidence that needed to be locked up, watched over, and relocated in order to evade discovery. Investigators eventually found the locked drawer, and the letters it contained constituted an archive of terror, lies, and fear. They included an account from October 1918, by a gendarme named Lamartine Toussaint, who shot four times an unarmed prisoner trying to escape: “The first time in the air, and the last three times upon him. . . . Under which he fell . . . and . . . expired.”78 Another report baldly stated that “as Marius was proving a hindrance, I killed him.”79 An undated, handwritten memo from Doxey to Wells describes Lavoie, Sieger, and Williams, all of whom had worked to expunge certain events from the official record, in crisis. Doxey recommends that they leave as soon as possible: “Lavoie and all gear to Gonaives. . . . Williams leaving Sunday. . . . Transferring Williams and Lavoie . . . is holding up all patrolling at present. . . . Sieger will return to the Cape just as soon as he attends to his personal affairs here. . . . Think it best that he do duty with the 3rd. Co. Cape and not remain in the district.” And finally: “Had an awful night last night. Williams talking in his sleep. Creole. Sieger and Lavoie having the ‘horrors’ and yelling. I just could not sleep with all the noise.”80
Circuits of Wire and Skin One event at Hinche eluded even the locked drawer, if not the memory of those who recalled it before the committee. Buried in the two thick 30 cir cu its
volumes of the Senate Inquiry are two allegations of a particular kind of torture. They form part of a list that includes beatings, the “water cure,” and bodily suspension by the hands, all techniques allegedly used by marines in efforts to obtain information from captive Haitians. Witnesses claimed that marines were applying wires to the bodies of prisoners and electrocuting them. The wires came from two sources: “telephone boxes” and radio sets.81 A magneto generates electricity with a hand-turned crank. It is designed to produce pulses of extremely high voltage rather than continuous current. Once generated, a high voltage spark will travel from one end of a wire to another, in order to close the circuit. In the early twentieth century magnetos were used to power a variety of devices, including field radio sets and telephones. If human beings are attached to wires from those devices, the high-voltage pulse travels through their bodies.82 Meratus Toussaint, who had been a gendarme at the time, testified that he had witnessed electric current being applied to a prisoner who had been arrested in Hinche under suspicion of being a Caco. According to Toussaint, in November 1918, just one month after the shooting incident that had singed the beard of Lieutenant Freeman Lang, Lang had applied electric current “from a wireless machine they had there.”83 Toussaint’s affidavit described the incident as follows: “He attached one prisoner to the radio plant at Hinche and electrocuted him to force him to talk.”84 Toussaint noted that the prisoner died two days later. Another instance of this use of electric current emerges in the transcript of an interview with Volny Paultre, a Haitian merchant from the town of Saint-Marc. Paultre attests that in March 1919, he was summoned to witness an interrogation of three suspects accused of stealing from his mother. Captain Fitzgerald Brown, the captain of the gendarmerie in Saint-Marc, had asked him to come to the prison to watch the interrogation. Apparently, however, Paultre was not the only person sent for; according to his testimony at least twelve others were present, including a local judge and a Haitian auxiliary to the gendarmes. At first, the accused denied the accusations. In response, according to Paultre, Captain Brown said, “I am going to make you talk. I have a little machine which will make you talk.” Then, continued Paultre, “he took a telephone box. He fastened one of the wires to their teeth and the other he wound around the top [of his hand] and Duval [the auxiliary] gave the current.” When asked what effect the current had on the accused, Paultre replied, “Upon the action of the electric current, one after the other, admitted that they were the authors of the crime charged them.” Three days later they were taken from their prison cells and cir cu its
killed, two of them shot and the other hanged.85 Histories of torture date the use of magnetos to apply electric current to 1931, and they credit the French with its implementation. The above episodes, therefore, shift the initiation of magneto torture back twelve years, and put it in U.S. hands.86 Because the investigation focused on the unsanctioned killing of Haitians, allegations of torture remained largely unexamined, subsumed under a broader and vaguer category of “atrocities.” But attention to torture may add another register to accounts of violence in Haiti. Mary Renda’s work, like the Senate Inquiry, concentrates on violence that had death as its purpose. Seeking an explanation rooted in paternalism and hegemony, Renda argues that violence emerges in the spaces of contradiction in a paternalistic system that both advocates “taking care” of Haitians as if they were children and relegates some Haitians to an unredeemable category of savagery and barbarism. In her interpretation, marines needed to choose between good Haitians and bad Haitians, without any other options.87 But the question of torture raises a third and vastly more discomfiting category, that of the Haitian with some information deemed necessary for the conduct of war. In the episodes recounted above, the aim was to get prisoners to “talk.” Having enough information about a prisoner and inflicting pain in order to make him talk require a proximity that is missing in violence intended to kill. It is precisely this combination of violence and interrogation that Elaine Scarry characterizes as torture: The pain inflicted is intended to elicit words, but that very pain obliterates them. Interrogation is a dialogue, however violent and asymmetrical, that requires two interlocutors. And torture requires the approximation of bodies, the monitoring to avoid death, the scanning of the body to calibrate levels of pain. Intimate violence informed these encounters.88 The marines had been thrust into contexts that demanded that they intervene in local circuits of knowledge. But that had seen variable success, as the market women who controlled those circuits variously thwarted, stalled, and suffered the consequences of their lack of cooperation. It was the unceasing search for information that prepared the ground for intimate violence.89
A Brief History of Electric Violence Eighteenth-century Americans experimented with electricity and its effect on human bodies. While most of these experiments were intended to inspire wonder, as James Delbourgo has argued, electricity was also used to punish slaves in the West Indies.90 Darius Rejali’s masterful book traces 32 cir cu its
the subsequent history of what he calls electrotorture, one of the iconic “clean tortures” that lies at the heart of his inquiry. Clean torture does not leave marks and has been utilized by torturers interested in deniability. It is much more difficult to prove that torture has occurred if the procedures do not leave scars, visible wounds, or mutilated bodies.91 When police and militaries perceive increased scrutiny, they turn to clean tortures to evade suspicion or deny accusations. Unsurprisingly, the evidence seems to be fragmentary, and the genealogy of this technique is difficult to trace. But the first chapter of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man for instance, points to an entangled history of racial violence, spectacle, and electrotorture in the 1930s.92 By the 1950s the field telephone would become one of the most popular sources of electric current in interrogations, given a prominent role in the film The Battle of Algiers, and a French nickname, the gégène.93 The very machines that created records—providing (mis)information— and transmitted messages, orders, and reports, also tortured. In their negotiations with technology and truth, marines and gendarmes managed and manipulated telephone boxes’ and radio sets’ capacities to record, transmit, and broadcast. Technology mediated between the production of knowledge, notions of truth, and intimate violence. The machine that members of the U.S. military talked to and used to produce false versions of events was also the machine that, as Captain Brown threatened, “will make you talk.” But Rejali reminds us that torture often has more to do with the mundane and quotidian than with theoretical considerations or semantic puzzles. In that regard, torture via magneto makes sense in a number of ways. First, it used the materials at hand. The marines were in isolated small towns, and supplies were scarce. The radio was necessary for communication. Because it was a fairly new contraption, marines were instructed in its use, but they may also have been given to experimentation. It fits Rejali’s criteria for common instruments of torture: “portable, painful, flexible, multifunctional, free (indeed, government supplied), widely available, familiar to operate and maintain, and easily excusable.”94 The second reason the magneto made sense is, as I suggested above, that it was “clean,” leaving no trace or evidence. It could be read as an extension of the deceitful strategies to create “clean” records. In one incident reported in the Senate Inquiry, Colonel Hooker stated that he had been sent by Brigadier General Albertus Catlin to follow up on rumors of violence and killings that contradicted the reports of “all quiet.” Hooker had conducted an investigation of his own and sent a report to headquarters in Port-au-Prince. That report had subsequently disappeared. When asked cir cu its
why he had not pursued the matter (indeed, why he had buried it), Catlin replied that “it was during the period of the Versailles treaty and he did not wish to embarrass our president by having stories of cruelty appear about our own soldiers when we were taking a position on the side of ‘humanity.’ ”95 Thirteen years later, the Marine Corps Gazette explicitly noted the appeal of clean torture techniques. Writing about a technique by which the victim was hit on the neck with a flat club, Major John Gray wrote, “The beauty of the method is that it does not leave any permanent marks.”96 The occupation of Haiti worked through a combination of violent spectacle and the ideology of “pacification,” in which the stated purpose was to create peace amid internecine conflict.97 Electrotorture allowed marines to resolve contradictory intentions in a particular way. It could create a spectacle that left no trace. Both Lang and Brown seemed interested in the machines’ spectacular quality. Recall that according to one witness, Captain Brown had gathered a group of ten or twelve to watch the application of electricity to the suspects. And Lang himself admitted that he had “just for fun” dared “curious workmen” to try to retrieve a fifty-cent piece from a bucket of water. When a willing Haitian submerged his hand, Lang would turn the telephone crank, which would transmit a current and shock the hand in the water. This was all, Lang asserted, “in the spirit of fun.”98 An enthrallment with these novel technologies animated these scenes. As Taussig has argued, what is worth noting, more than the Haitians’ fascination, is Lang’s fascination with “the natives’ ” fascination.99 Torture by electricity was doubly effective, from the marines’ perspective. In one respect it offered them an opportunity to display a new technology in the hopes of terrifying Haitians with its novel capacities.100 At the same time, it could produce pain, enough pain to force people to talk, without leaving any trace of violence. The machines were at the center of the spectacle of violence and allowed for its denial.
Speculations What are the broader implications of this perambulation through the mess of occupation? Electrotorture enacts, literally, the relationship between technology, the production of knowledge, and imperial violence. Originally I envisioned a relatively straightforward exposition of a grim iteration of the power of technology and the unsettled uses of these machines in their earliest years.101 But reading the records for the role of communications technologies led to questions about the relationship between the records and the technologies. Here, as Lisa Gitelman has pointed out, 34 cir cu its
record has multiple meanings, as both an artifact and a way of proceeding. Her invocation of Raymond Williams’s notion of the keyword proves useful, as both meanings are bound up in the very making of the documents I was reading. The recording (and transmitting) technologies produced the (frequently deceitful) historical record of violence.102 This approach is a way to write about the occupation from a new perspective at the same time as it serves as a point of entry into genealogies of specific, intimate forms of violence. Although Friedrich Kittler has observed the deployment of recording technologies in the service of violence, the histories of these technologies and of violence have not often been brought together.103 The U.S. occupation in Haiti is a fitting place for this kind of inquiry: the technologies with which I am concerned, primarily wireless radio and telephony, were quite new at the time and their uses not entirely fixed. Most studies of this period in Haitian history attend to the political, economic, or gendered underpinnings of the occupation and marginalize the presence of these machines. The occupation (1915–34) was a theater of war that overlapped with but remained on the sidelines of a much better-remembered war in Europe. Yet, while accounts of wireless in World War I abound, the military uses of radio much closer to home remain unexplored.104 The inclusion of information circuits as actants in these stories demands a reflexive history with attention to the constructions of the very archives we use to produce our own versions of knowledge. This episode adds both a dark chapter to the history of technology and requires a more careful consideration of the role of communication technologies as mediators and authors of our archive. Moreover, my account collapses the distance between histories of occupation that stress destruction and cruelty, and those that emphasize technological and infrastructural change. Indeed, it was the implementation of new technologies that gave rise to new cruelties as well as new Haitian tactics of resistance. But this story also raises questions that remain unanswered about the verifiability of the allegations of torture, and, by extension, history’s relationship to the epistemological puzzles posed here. In the final instance, it may be that an answer lies not in a struggle to affix a truth claim to this record as much as to observe that it reprises the quandary I have posed. The Senate Inquiry itself can be read as a (very) long interrogation of how facts were produced in U.S.- occupied Haiti. More modestly, I will conclude by positing these episodes as moments of grisly technological innovation and noting, as well, that they took place amid dialogues about technology, the historical record, and the sound or feel or look of truth. cir cu its
The marines’ efforts to seize information via newly introduced communications technologies lay the ground for the fraught adoption of radio broadcasting in Haiti, addressed in chapter 3. Meanwhile, however, neighboring Cuba and Jamaica acquired wireless point-to-point and broadcasting under very different circumstances, driven not by the logics of military conflict but by the demands of producers and consumers and the goods that circulated between them.
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Talking machines traveled to the Caribbean in a variety of ways. Not entirely a manifestation of imperial domination or industrial largesse, wireless and radio evaded those infrastructures and seeped in unceremoniously, surreptitiously, in the interstices. To follow them adequately requires moving around several registers, from broad narratives about economies and empires to more accidental and incidental accounts of individuals, fascinations, and desires. Once knit together, however, these narratives recount the reception of new media in the region and the changing geographies of sound and power. The acquisition and translation of new media redrew the boundaries and spaces they traversed. Notions of “the Caribbean” and “the world” came to be more sharply defined as exclusive of each other. The search for better and faster communications systems began in the Caribbean itself. Ironically, promoters of radio, both in and out of the Caribbean, imagined it as outside of and marginal to the radio boom. After 1919, as the U.S. occupation in Haiti dragged on and the war in Europe came to an end, Caribbean exports of sugar and bananas began to accelerate as demand grew both in Europe and North America. The lives of working people necessarily adjusted to these growing demands. Their days in fields and plantations became both more intense and more precarious as they labored to produce tropical commodities. As they moved around in search of employment, they traced emerging geographies of wealth, consumption, and work. If Sidney Mintz has demonstrated that eighteenth-century slaves drove a sugar economy in which “cloth, tools, torture instruments—were consumed by slaves who were themselves consumed in the creation of wealth,”1 the twentieth century reconfigured this economy with the introduction of wage labor, the growing interest in tourism and commerce in the region, and the possibilities for speed and control wrought by changing technologies of transportation and communication. Communications technologies grew more sophisticated in 37
partial response to the demands created by new routes of goods, people, and money. Their assembly depended on circuits that tied places of extraction to sites of manufacture and to users. As Walter Benjamin recalled, the Great War initiated circumstances in which “electrical forces were hurled into the open country . . . high frequency currents coursed through the landscape . . . and everywhere sacrificial shafts were dug in Mother Earth.”2
Appearing as if by Magic During World War I, foreign investment in Cuba, particularly from the United States, had grown substantially. Twenty-five new sugar mills were built between 1914 and 1920, raising the volume of sugar produced and bolstering wages for workers. Plantations were bought and refurbished and grew in both number and size, supplied with labor from nearby islands as well as the continuing if dwindling arrivals from India and China. In both Cuba and Jamaica, there was plenty of work, but it was short-term and transient. Corporate sugar rearranged the lives of its workers. With greater frequency, workers were divided into two tiers. Skilled long-term employees lived in detached homes and partook of additional services, including postal service and medical care. The others were either housed in barracks reminiscent of slave quarters or traveled daily to work in the fields and then return home. Maintaining chronic underemployment was the common strategy for sugar companies looking to keep their wages low while appearing to hire many workers. Sugar plantations that couldn’t compete with the new regime plowed over their sugar lands and planted bananas, awaiting the arrival of United Fruit Company’s shrewd but consistent buyers. When work became too scarce, laborers could board a ship and travel to Cuba or Panama or Costa Rica in search of employment.3 The products of this circulating labor fed the appetites of an increasingly prosperous and demanding North American populace. If sugar was a long-standing and growing addiction for U.S. households, bananas entered as the fascinating new trend. Even though they had been introduced some decades prior, they continued to require marketing, which eventually proved successful. Promoters pushed the banana as an exotic but accessible new fruit with many appealing qualities. More than a tasty source of energy, it was cheap, could be shipped long distances, and was available all year long. Best of all, argued the banana promoters, it “reaches the consumer in a natural germ free package.”4 Banana journeys depended on a series of circuits, some old, some new, and some newly reinvigorated. A quick perusal of several issues of Jamaica’s Gleaner from 38 re ce ive rs
January 1920 shows that United Fruit steamers made up the majority of ships arriving, with goods and tourists, prepared to take bananas back to the United States.5 Dominated by the United Fruit Company since the turn of the century, the shipping of bananas turned into an enterprise that spanned the Caribbean basin and comprised ships and railroads, land purchased and held throughout the region, the building of hotels and the transport of tourists and goods from the United States. Although the United Fruit Company’s archives have remained closed to researchers, many scholars have drawn from numerous sources to tell the epic and often-violent tale of the banana in the Americas.6 The story of wireless and telegraph drops out of these tales. Yet contemporary observers unfailingly noted the centrality of new communications technologies to the creation and perpetuation of the banana empire. United Fruit understood the utility of wireless and seized on it from its earliest and clumsiest stages, installing equipment on the company’s ships and stations. As Victor Cutter, president of the United Fruit Company, noted, the company forged ahead despite the “crude state of technology” and “notwithstanding static and other conditions which make the operation of telegraphy in the tropical latitudes extremely difficult.”7 It established “radio telegraphy” stations in Panama and Costa Rica in 1904, in N icaragua in 1906, and on the Great White Fleet in 1907. With aims to expand and provide telegraphed news service to Latin American countries, the company built stations in Colombia and in Cabo San Antonio, Cuba. By 1913, operations were so expansive that they required a separate enterprise. The Tropical Radio Telegraph Company took over United Fruit’s telegraph and wireless operations. The U.S. government used the stations to send out storm warnings throughout the region, and the company began a free medical radio service available to anyone in need. In the absence of telegraph connections and working telephones, Cutter noted, “on not one but many occasions, the stations comprising the fruit company’s radio system have afforded the only means of communication between central America and the outside world.”8 Commentators noted the introduction of wireless technologies and extolled their capacity for facilitating the smooth operation of el pulpo (the octopus). Communications reduced waste and streamlined production: “By means of production estimates and cutting advice dispatched by telephone and radio, production is closely geared to consumption, thus avoiding considerable loss.”9 In fact, radio and telegraph were given credit for the industry’s accomplishments: “Success in the banana trade has depended largely on a high degree of business organization, and, in turn, re ce ive rs
on a thorough system of radio and telephone communication.”10 Moreover, radio was one of a series of technologies that transformed the jungle to fulfill American desires and tastes: “American engineers are invading the jungles with steam shovels. Swamps are being drained and axes are heard ringing in the woodland. Fruitful banana plantations are appearing as if by magic. The Caribbean lowlands, as they appear today, are a place of prosperity as one-quarter-million acres of the most fertile lands have been reclaimed for the use of man, and its sanitation completed. This area is served by 2,000 miles of railroad, and is connected with all parts of the world by radio, telegraph, and telephone.”11 The banana was even more time-sensitive than sugarcane. Recently harvested cane needed to be transported to a mill within hours of cutting. But once it had been processed into sugar, the speed with which it traveled from port to port, from port to warehouse, from warehouse to distributor, market, factory, or table was less urgent. Bananas, in contrast, had to be shepherded every step of the way. Timing was crucial, so the choreography of trains, ships, trucks, and other modes of transportation demanded careful and constant vigilance and control. When farmers, merchants, and consumers in the Caribbean and North America realized the appeal of bananas, they also impelled the development of those technologies that enabled the fruit’s delivery in a perfectly ripe state, having journeyed from a banana stand somewhere in the Caribbean basin to the truck that took bananas to the port, ship, warehouse, distributor, and market—the timing of their arrival at each of these stops organized with telegraphs and wireless.
Glittery and Lustrous These new technologies supported changing geographies of consumption and labor, linking ports, Caribbean plantations, ships, and warehouses. The machines themselves drew parts from the earth. Benjamin’s “sacrificial shafts” were tapped and depleted as bits and pieces from everywhere came together in the making of radios. The nascent radio industry met the demand for receivers, transmitters, speakers, and other parts by scrambling for materials. Minerals like mica, which had been used for centuries in decoration and rituals, took on new relevance. Egyptian women had used mica on their faces as a cosmetic. The Aztecs’ Pyramid of the Sun glittered with a layer of mica. Beyond its shine, mica had other qualities very difficult to manufacture. Divisible into infinitesimally thin sheets that were strong, flexible, impervious to heat, resistant to moisture, and able to withstand 40 re ce ive rs
voltage without puncturing, its uses in electronics multiplied. As insulation in spark plugs and condensers, it eventually became a necessity in airplanes, ships, and tanks. Radio engineers found in mica the perfect material to hold filaments upright in tubes. As uses proliferated and factories produced greater quantities of machines, the demand for mica exploded. The radio industry began to draw on supplies largely controlled by the U.S. Army, which dealt with British distributors. Some mica was mined in the United States, but most mica, and the best, came from India. The process of mining the mineral was labor intensive and not easily mechanized. After visual recognition of deposits in rock (which required recognizing different qualities of mica), it was extracted by dynamite in large blocks. Once extracted, laborers split it into thin sheets. This was delicate work, and those deemed most capable of it were women and children. As the contemporary literature asserted, “western man [has not] been smart enough to invent a machine that can grade and split the mineral as expertly as the swift brown hands of Indian families.”12 Another commentator observed the reasons for a virtual Indian monopoly on mica. Not only did the subcontinent possess large deposits but also, “with Indian labor highly skilled, docile and low paid, Indian mica possesses an advantage which competitors cannot normally overcome.”13 On a good day any one of thousands of Indian women or children could produce a pound of thin mica sheets for shipment to London or New York, where the material was again redistributed, eventually ending up in radio factories. Not surprisingly, then, the radio industry became interested in mining. In response to an inquiry from Edward Porter of the Wireless Specialty Apparatus Company, the U.S. Bureau of Mining weighed in with some observations. Mica was then mined in the United States, including in New Hampshire and North Carolina. While some argued that the quality of American mica was not as high as that from India, the Bureau of Mining disagreed but acknowledged that “on the whole it is less carefully graded and trimmed,” implying, with the passive voice that female and child labor in India produced higher grade supplies.14 U.S. radio manufacturers had an interest in developing sources of mica in their country that were as good as India’s. Indian mica was distributed by the British, who controlled both price and available quantity, which clearly made U.S. manufacturers nervous as they found themselves using more and more of it.15 So radios unearthed iridescent mica and incorporated its exploitative dimensions into their circuits.16 Also from the earth came phenol and formaldehyde, the materials from which industrial engineers created Bakelite, an early plastic.17 Phenol re ce ive rs
was extracted from coal tar and was highly toxic. Formaldehyde, also toxic, was produced through an oxidation process that involved silver or iron. Contemporaries described its invention as a conjuring: “That deft magician—the chemist,” noted the author of an article titled merely “Oxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride,” had found a way to create an odorless solid out of two “odorous and unpromising materials: carbolic acid and formaldehyde.” The article listed the product’s many marvelous qualities. As a solid it could withstand heat, water, steam, oil, solvents, and most chemicals. Manufacturers could mold it into precise shapes that fit together perfectly. Moreover, it was pretty, emerging from the mold with a “beautiful lustre” that was easy to clean. “Each of the standard colors—red, brown, and black—[were] rich and handsome in appearance.” It would last forever, never losing its shine or strength. As an insulator it could withstand between 300 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and 250 to 450 volts per millimeter of thickness. Its creators hyperbolically declared it “a triumph of modern creative chemistry.”18 The pamphlets and booklets generated as marketing tools rendered radio an actor in the Bakelite saga: “And then Radio found it.”19 Emphasizing its aesthetic and hygienic as well as electronically advantageous qualities, the pamphlets served as the front lines in a competition between the Bakelite Corporation and other producers for markets. These efforts were very successful. In the early 1920s, narratives portrayed both Bakelite and radio as reliable and tough, the very latest the world had to offer. As Jeff Meikle has noted, demand for Bakelite took off as radio enthusiasts began assembling sets at home. These sets typically included front panels with Bakelite dials and knobs as well as laminated phenolic mounting panels. According to Meikle, “the Bakelite Corporation’s sales nearly doubled from 1922 to 1924, when the total topped seventeen million pounds.”20 Journalists explicitly linked the radio industry, changing listening habits, and new uses of chemicals, including carbolic acid. They speculated on the ways new media were reorganizing sensoria: “It was expected that newspapers would be replaced by talking machines. . . . The radio has now entered the field and made this continent into one vast auditorium.”21 In pursuit of this “vast auditorium,” radio entangled the histories of mica, women and child laborers, coal tar, marketers, the military, and radio enthusiasts in unprecedented ways.
Startling Flashes Although radios had their origins in military and commercial pursuits, engineers cloaked their descriptions of this technological change in the 42 re ce ive rs
language of magic and wonder. Lee de Forest, who had directed construction of the first wireless stations in the Caribbean, understood his work in the industry as “a dream come true, imagination confirmed by achievement, the impossible made possible, and a boundless ambition unhampered by that age-old chant, ‘it can’t be done’!”22 As he recalled years later, his invention of the audion tube opened the door to wireless telephony, which allowed for the “startling flashing of the human voice through space.”23 De Forest imagined that voices flashing through space could change human relations at any scale. Those voices in space could extend the intimacy of listening and aurally bind families together: “Radio is no longer limited to the living room. It belongs just as much in the nursery, kitchen, den, dining room, or even out on the porch or lawn.”24 Radio would become necessary to human comfort, filling domestic air with sound as centralized heating or air conditioning regulated its temperature. But it would also work on much larger scales, as de Forest imagined its uses in keeping businessmen aboard ships informed of the latest financial news. The islands not far from the Florida coast were implicated in radio from the beginning. After de Forest and Frank Butler introduced wireless to the region, much early radio history was in the hands of amateur wireless operators, otherwise known as hams or aficionados. In the Caribbean as in other places they forged the connections that eventually grew into robust wireless circuits. In the early twentieth century, young boys became entranced with the technology and began to build their own receivers and transmitters even as the radio industry was refining the capacities of radio apparatuses. These enthusiasts—who played at communicating among themselves, tinkered with machines, and formed associations of likeminded individuals—sparked the early twentieth-century “radio craze.” Men like John Grinan and Frank Jones, who became widely known in amateur circles, led this surge of interest from their Caribbean locations. Grinan was acknowledged to have built station VP5PZ in Kingston, “one of the most famous amateur stations in the world,”25 while a 1926 article in a New York newspaper listed Jones’s Cuban station as one of the more frequent Cuban contacts made by amateurs in the United States.26 The careers of Grinan and Jones as amateur radio operators draw together the disparate strands of this chapter, which follows the making and distribution of talking machines and notes the sometimes surprising ways that early users and listeners handled incursions of electronic sound in their daily lives. Grinan’s activities in wireless followed a circuitous route, beginning in Cuba, where his father was born. The path loops back through Jamaica re ce ive rs
and New York (among other places) and eventually back to Cuba and his counterpart there, Frank Jones. Radio had captivated Grinan when he was a boy in New York City. In 1911, at age seventeen, he became a member of the Radio Club of America, founded in New York two years earlier.27 In 1916, Grinan and Adolph Faron won praise for successfully sending a relay message from New York to California, “a distance of some 2,500 miles overland, a feat which had heretofore been deemed impossible with an input of one kilowatt on amateur wavelengths.”28 Grinan gained further attention in the wireless world as a member of a six-person team that transmitted the first transatlantic signals from Connecticut to S cotland in 1921.29 Shortly after this communication (which was also heard in England, Germany, Holland, Puerto Rico, British Columbia, California, and Washington State), David Sarnoff, future president of RCA, visited their station to examine their apparatus and techniques.30 Grinan’s drive to transmit signals and messages across the water echoed his own family’s travels between Jamaica and New York. Ellis Island records suggest that John’s father was Juan Grinan, a native of Santiago de Cuba who owned the Jamaican sugar plantations “Sevens” in Clarendon and “Albion” in St. Thomas. In 1893 Juan traveled to New York. His son John was born in Jamaica in 1894, and the family moved to New York in 1902. Juan journeyed again to Jamaica and back to the United States, where he listed his address as 808 West End Avenue, in 1906 and 1910, and a final time in 1913. In 1916, the family traveled again from Jamaica to New York, this time without Juan, who had died in 1914. From this fragmentary record we can gather that the family had strong links to both places, shuttling back and forth to meet the demands of each. In one location there were the Jamaica plantations to look after, and in the other, a family life that included raising children and sending them to school. John and possibly his sisters attended school in New York, and it was from the Manhattan apartment that John initiated his long career in distant communication. Is it overly imaginative to attribute the young boy’s enthusiasm for sending messages and signals over long distances to his father’s frequent absence and to his own growing up not in one place or another but between two? The stretch of ocean between Jamaica and New York, crossed so frequently onboard a ship, might have felt like a space to fill with signals and noise.31 During World War I and just after, when amateur radio activities were suspended, Grinan’s career traced the circuits of early radio communications. He worked as a radio operator on United Fruit Company ships. From there he moved on to the Navy Yard and the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company before working for the Argentine and Brazilian governments, as 44 re ce ive rs
well as Telefunken, testing equipment and conducting research.32 Eventually, Grinan began to spend a lot of time in Jamaica, where he applied for a wireless license in 1923 and built the station from which he transmitted signals to, and received them from, faraway places.33 As a radio operator in Jamaica, Grinan bridged the contrasting cultural statuses of amateur radio operators in his two homes. In North America, these were nearly always men or young boys who derived enjoyment and purpose from tinkering with equipment to see how much distance they could cover. The content was often recreational or whimsical—not nearly as important to the amateurs as the expanse their signals might travel. Moreover, as a Radio Club memoir contends, amateurs frequently positioned themselves as innovative and influential, but also marginalized with regard to government regulation and corporate politics.34 In New York, Grinan partook of this adventurous ethos. In one of his most frequently commemorated acts as a wireless operator, he picked up the U.S. broadcast of the 1928 Tom Heaney boxing match and relayed it from his station in Kingston to Heaney’s hometown in New Zealand.35 Yet wireless operators in the Caribbean were much more central to state or business operations. In Jamaica, where telegraph and telephone systems were unreliable, plantations with wireless connections were at an advantage, and colonial governments looked to wireless operators to meet some of their official needs. Grinan would become central to the establishment there, as a plantation owner and member of several organizations such as the Wireless Board of Jamaica, the Government Broadcasting Committee, and the Government Wireless Examiners.36 Amid efforts to extend the connections between the United States and the Caribbean, Grinan found himself a member of a radio elite in New York City that cast its activities as pioneering the frontiers of communications across long distances. In the Radio Show in New York City in December 1922, for example, the Radio Club of America, which he would eventually direct, played a prominent role. Tasked with easing the potential chaos of many exhibitors at the Radio Show receiving signals all at once, the Radio Club found a way to distribute receivers, antennas, and loudspeakers such that the programming boomed loudly and clearly throughout the Palace. The programming itself was provided by WEAF, an early broadcasting station and affiliate of American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T). WEAF had initiated an experiment in broadcasting radio over AT&T’s telephone lines. AT&T had tried to stake a claim in the clamorous developments of early broadcasting by devising a system in which individuals or groups would re ce ive rs
pay for airtime and broadcast programs over long distances.37 The idea was to supply listeners in distant places with “material desirable to the receiver so that the demand for service will be stimulated.” Moreover, “this service would enable the national and local advertisers, industrial institutions of all kinds, and even individuals if they so desire, to send forth information and advertising matter audibly to thousands.”38 In February 1922, AT&T inaugurated this mode of generating the revenue with which broadcasting would pay for itself. This experiment extended to Havana. Cuba had for many years possessed an extensive telephone network. By 1888, the Spanish colonial regime had created a telephone network with thirty-four kilometers of lines and 1,500 subscribers. In the wake of the U.S. occupations in 1898–1902 and 1906–9, U.S. capital, which had provided the initial financing for the telephone network, took greater control and created the Cuban Telephone Company. The brothers Hernand and Sosthenes Behn subsequently bought it, adding to their growing telecommunications empire, International Telephone and Telegraph. By 1916, Havana had five telephones per 100 inhabitants, which was half the percentage of New York, but three times that of Madrid.39 In the wake of World War I, and likely in response to the increasing economic ties between the United States and the Caribbean, AT&T expanded its telephone lines and connections to the region. As recalled by a historian of AT&T (and its long-distance department, Long Lines), “Long Lines, too, was preparing for another year of unusual traffic growth and of important construction to provide more long-distance circuits. A notable project was the interconnection of the telephones of the Cuban Telephone Company with those of the United States by means of cables between Cuba and F lorida. These were dedicated to service in April 1921 by President Harding.”40 By October 10, 1922 (two months before the Radio Show in New York City), WEAF had extended its reach to Havana. At 4 p.m. President Alfredo Zayas spoke into a microphone in the newly built station, PWX, first in E nglish and then in Spanish. Since, as discussed below, there were very few receivers in Cuba at the time, the hour-long program was aimed mostly at listeners in the United States.41 PWX had been built by the Cuban Telephone Company, an offshoot of International Telephone and Telegraph, and it transmitted via telephone line to its sister station, WEAF in New York, which in turn broadcast within its range. U.S. newspapers instantly took note of the appearance of the Havana station and the reception of Cuban music. American listeners would be able to expand their aural range: “Radio followers who have had the pleasure of listening in to the melodies of New England from Springfield, Mass., 46 re ce ive rs
southern medleys from Atlanta, Georgia, western songs from Davenport, Iowa, may increase their concert range by tuning to the wavelength of Havana, Cuba, now broadcasting Cuban songs and tropical dance music.” Cuba was just the beginning of a cosmopolitan future. Soon, radiophone users would “be able to skip around the earth in the twinkling of an eye.”42 These technologies came to embody a paradox about distance. In the most material sense, they compressed space: they drew parts from farflung places and created circuits that connected Indian workers with U.S. engineers and banana fleets. In some ways, they enacted the shrinking of space that some observers noted and that Stephen Kern has argued was an essential feature of communications in the early twentieth century.43 But at the same time, distance came to be privileged and celebrated as the outstanding and most relevant aspect of the adoption of communications technologies. The farther away the better, and even though distances were there to be minimized, it was necessary for the radio industry to maintain them discursively, and to continually emphasize social and cultural gaps as well as physical space. Narratives about radio and wireless made the Caribbean a remote, exotic place even as they noted the ease with which that distance was crossed.
The Coo of the Coo-Coo As in North America and Jamaica, amateur wireless operators had preceded mass broadcasting in Cuba. These operators, like others elsewhere, aimed their broadcasts at other aficionados, both on the island and abroad.44 Luis Casas Romero, a military man and musician who had fought in Cuba’s wars of independence and subsequently founded and directed the Banda Infantil de Camagüey, built station 2LC in Havana in 1920 and in August 1922 transmitted Cuba’s first radio signals. Casas began his broadcast with the cannon shot fired from La Cabana every night at 9 p.m., followed by a weather report. Other amateurs included Manuel Álvarez, who built a station in Caibarién, Las Villas.45 The contemporary press reported that F. W. Morton and Humberto Giquel also built stations prior to the opening of PWX.46 In this growing world of aficionados, Frank Jones, an engineer at the sugar mill Tuinucú, built a station that came to be known in distant places. Jones remembered his career as an amateur radio operator in parallel to the development of U.S. broadcasting. He recalled receiving the broadcasts of Pittsburgh station KDKA in 1920 so clearly that he and his colleagues were able to “dance to the music before [these stations] could believe they were re ce ive rs
being transmitted more than a few hundred miles at best.” Enthused, he decided to build his own transmitter and began ordering parts. By his own account, he overcame a series of obstacles, including waiting for components that took up to a year to arrive and deciding how best to position the parts of his makeshift apparatus so as to transmit most effectively. This took a while to work out: initially, his neighbor and fellow enthusiast reported that his transmissions sounded “like a very loud saw mill.” Eventually, after a great deal of consultation with his “good friend Pierri of RCA,” Jones managed to transmit acceptable sounds—crossing the boundary, in fact, from noise to sound—to his friend at a nearby sugar mill and then tapping into a network of aficionados all over Cuba. Once the apparatus was cooperating, he wired public spaces such as a nearby school or the big house on the plantation where he worked in order to pick up and transmit concerts played there. He sent music abroad over the radio waves, conforming to Cuba’s designation as a source of exotic sounds, but he also reversed that flow by picking up news broadcasts from the United States and relaying them locally.47 From the beginning, he aspired, like most wireless operators, to send signals as far as possible. Following Pierri’s technical advice, he managed to transmit to Florida first, then Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico, in late 1922 and early 1923. All of this was done, presumably, in Jones’s spare time, when he was not otherwise occupied as engineer of the sugar mill. He needed support, both moral and financial, from his boss, Manuel Rionda. In order to persuade Rionda, he embarked on a campaign of self-promotion and self- justification. Jones had received a letter from the members of the Liceo de Matanzas thanking him for a recent broadcast, which had been dedicated to them. They had heard the entire broadcast, which consisted of a selection of phonograph records, perfectly and congratulated Jones on the existence of the station. Jones sent this letter (along with a request for money) to Rionda, who replied with enthusiasm: “It pleases me to know that, with the broadcasting of good phonograph music, Tuinucú, thanks to you, has been and now is adding joy to all homes in Cuba that are equipped with radio apparatus. Hoping this commendable service to the less fortunate ones will continue . . .”48 Rionda approved a sum of $507. Jones continued to imagine ways to expand broadcasting, and in August 1923 Rionda approved Jones’s request to install a receiving set at the nearby Auditorium and Dancing Hall of the Sociedad de Instrucción y Recreo, so that they might listen to “music etc. broadcasted from Havana, Porto Rico, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York and Schenectady.” The society sent Rionda profuse thanks two months later “for such beautiful evidence 48 re ce ive rs
of your generosity, thus highlighting your love for this small region, which lends you the highest respect and esteem of which your personality is worthy.”49 Rionda understood radio as a way to build his own reputation locally, but Jones’s ambition was directed abroad. When he learned that his station was being heard in Canada and the southern United States well as Cuba, he requested more money to upgrade his equipment and install shortwave so that he might receive and rebroadcast music from afar. Later that year, letters to Jones from distant places remarked on his broadcasts and the quality of transmission. From Wharton, New Jersey, on December 26, a listener wrote, “Congratulations on your program of last night.” Another listener in Drummondville, Quebec, wrote on December 25, 1923, “Your transmission was clear and distinct. I am located sixty-five miles northeast of Montreal.”50 In another note from Chevy Chase, Maryland (which the author of the letter noted was 1,100 miles from Tuinucú), the author wrote, “About a month ago I got the ‘bug’ and got a friend to construct a three tube set for me.” He had greatly enjoyed the talks and music and drew lines of affiliation: “I am a chemist at the Bureau of Chemistry, Dept. of Agriculture, and was interested in the talks of the sugar and iron companies since they are industries very much dependent on chemistry.”51 Jones continued, in the following year, to ensure that his employer was apprised of the popularity and success of the radio station. In May, he compiled more letters and photographs of the station itself and made an album, which he shipped off to Rionda. With this momentum Jones continued to expand and update the radio equipment, so that by 1925 he could claim complete coverage of the United States and Canada. Drawing from the letters he received on a daily basis (“on the average several hundreds, and some days over a thousand”), he could happily report that “the people in USA evidently like the Spanish and Cuban music which I transmit every Sunday night at 8pm NY time.” Those listeners, he noted, were happiest with the clarity of sound and the absence of static and other unwanted noise. They were also fascinated by the distance and by picturing the person at the other end, both so far and so close. As Jones put it, “One listener wrote in from the frozen north asking if I operated the transmitter in pajamas!” They also wanted to enact this close distance, or far proximity, through sound: “Many listeners pleaded to have me open a bottle of champagne in front of the microphone, and let them just hear the ‘pop.’ ”52 Jones developed schemes to promote the station to listeners abroad. He took credit for having invented the game of “radio golf,” in which operators competed to see who could transmit signals over the longest distance.53 re ce ive rs
He also wrote a song called “Tune In Tuinucú,” which he both played during his own broadcasts and disseminated abroad. As he recalled, he had spent $600 of his own money “for propaganda purposes, such as the recording and making of phonograph records of the Tuinucú song ‘Tune in Tuinucú,’ and sheet music publication for full orchestration of the music which I have furnished to hundreds of orchestras all over the USA and Canada, and also the making of piano player rolls of the same piece.”54 The song had clearly made the rounds. An article in a New York newspaper pointed out that his station, 6KW, was always identifiable: “When you hear the Coo of the Coo-Coo you are in tune with Tuinucú.”55 But Jones was in arrears, and even as he recounted his success he was pleading for additional funds to pay for his recent expansion. He had increased the power from 100 watts to 500 on his own initiative, claiming that he had been forced to act quickly, as RCA was planning to stop selling broadcasting apparatuses. The bill came to $3,588. Jones was quick to point out that this was one-fifth the cost of an equivalent receiver at a neighboring plantation, in part because he had built the station himself. But Rionda’s support seems to have reached its limits. He wrote, in fury, to a colleague at the mill: “Mr. Jones had no business to go to that expense. . . . I do not consider it proper for an employee to go ahead and spend the Company’s money, just b/c he likes the RADIO, to the tune of $3,600. And he deserves the scolding.” The same day he wrote to Jones: “I would not have given my permission. b/c with these low sugar prices we should not only economize for the sake of the economy but also as an example to our employees. With the $3,588 expended by you we could have built four small houses.”56 A year and a half later, the station was still running. But Jones, chastened, seems to have made some efforts to ensure that listeners perceived the station as vital rather than frivolous. A subsequent report to Rionda included numerous letters from people in Florida, West Virginia, and other parts of the southern United States, expressing their gratitude for spreading the word that Tuinucú had not been damaged in the recent cyclone.57 After a few years, however, Jones strayed back into the realm of experiment and fascination with the technological possibilities. In 1929, the Schenectady Gazette, describing Jones as an “enterprising broadcaster, lyric writer and radio experimenter,” reported that he “outfitted himself with a television receiver, and he is among the most distant to report reception of images from Schenectady.” Tuned to the Schenectady station’s shortwave transmitter, he had received images of WGY’s announcer. The article predicted that soon Jones would be transmitting images as well as receiving them.58 50 re ce ive rs
Jones and others built their audiences largely from abroad. While they did imagine themselves as providing music and news to local residents, the focus was on distance. It was through distance that their reputations would grow, allowing them to join the global ranks of wireless operators— tinkerers for whom nothing was more exciting than contact with far-flung locales. Rather than the Caribbean’s receiving radio through Jones and others, radio listeners everywhere received the sounds of the Caribbean.
Invisible Messengers What of listeners on the islands? At first, radio did not introduce new sounds into the noisy soundscape easily or naturally, or even particularly successfully. Residents of cities like Kingston and Havana were not strangers to listening as an affective prompt or source of knowledge. Across socioeconomic status, modes of sociability had long included gatherings centered on aural exchanges. In Havana, as Marial Iglesias has argued, public festivals were integral to the construction of a nationalist sentiment in the aftermath of colonialism. These included civic and religious processions, mítins, commemorations, and funerals. In the streets and plazas of urban centers, the collective listening to music, songs, and speeches that took place during these rituals helped Cubans negotiate the complex transitions from Spanish rule to North American tutelage with a modicum of autonomy. Particularly in a context in which illiteracy predominated, collective aural experiences proved significant to any attempts to elaborate nationalist hegemonies.59 These were produced and consumed by diverse groups, including Afro-Cubans whose drumming sessions came to be a site of contestation over the meaning of civilization and modernity.60 Listening had also taken place in enclosed spaces. Araceli Tinajero has traced the tradition of reading aloud that came to characterize many cigar factories in Cuba, the United States, and other parts of the Caribbean. Since the nineteenth century, readers had been a fixture on factory floors, offering entertainment and information to thousands of workers. They were paid by the laborers themselves and most commonly read newspa inajero pers and novels for up to four hours a day. The workforce, which T argues was ethnically diverse and largely poor, became expectant and informed listeners whose interests ranged, apparently, from news of politics and sports events to canonical authors like Miguel de Cervantes, Victor Hugo, and Charles Dickens.61 The elite had its own listening spaces. As demonstrated by the theaters, opera houses, and concert halls built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, these were popular re ce ive rs
pastimes among the bourgeoisie seeking the trappings of distinction in a fluid social context.62 More recently, the phonograph had appeared in elite households, rendering living rooms and parlors listening spaces in a few exclusive homes. But this rich, diverse, and sophisticated culture of listening did not immediately take up the radio as its next object of interest. Certainly some enthusiasts struck up a romance with the technology and sought the dissemination of radios and an increased volume of broadcasts. The radio club in Oriente announced its purchase of a transmitter to “advance the science of radiotelephony for all those in possession of receivers.” They promised to relay concerts, news, and weather from Washington, D.C., and in so doing enhance the experience of all those interested in the “most recent, important marvel of electricity.” Also in Santiago, aspiring merchants of shortwave radios set up evenings in public spaces during which they played music received from Havana and Atlanta, promising to repeat them so that many families could enjoy the “marvelous concerts via radiotelephony.”63 Caribbean print media followed technological developments with interest, as they participated in the romance of invention surrounding wireless. In 1923, a columnist in Santiago de Cuba’s La Independencia applauded the achievements of radiotelephony: “With its magic touch it has eliminated the isolation and loneliness in the middle of the sea and in deserted places.”64 Its magic had the power to transform the world, changing space and time.65 Emphasizing the isolation felt in a small city, especially on an island, the author relished sonic technologies’ creation of new roles and capacities for sound.66 The column also noted the progression from telegraph to telephone, culminating with radiotelephony, which broadcast radio programs through telephone wires. This, the author proposed, offered not just the wonder of “Hertzian waves that are the invisible messengers of human thought” but, more practically, “the solution for education within nations.”67 Santiago’s connections to the technologies that delivered sound would be transformative, he predicted, in many spheres of daily life. Sound would propagate education and cultural understanding, assuage class differences as both the wealthy and the not-so-wealthy enjoyed broadcasts of music or sports in the comfort of their homes, and prevent accidents or provide aid during natural disasters.68 But these romantic projections of possibility ran aground amid circumstances and contexts in which radio took on entirely different meanings from those projected. First, as they set about building their own receivers, nascent radio audiences seemed to care less about content and more about the 52 re ce ive rs
machines themselves. Second, wireless spurred dissatisfaction with empire and unhappy comparisons to other Caribbean islands. This exacerbated envy and recrimination rather than easing tensions or building new forms of community.
Toc . . . Toc . . . Toc Initially, most Cubans could not afford to buy a receiver. When PWX broadcast in October 1922, only 100 manufactured receivers were operating on the island. In the days before the PWX broadcast, General Electric and Westinghouse had distributed another forty receivers to government employees. On October 10, they opened the doors of their store so that passersby could listen.69 If Cubans wanted to partake of radio they would need to listen in public spaces, or build their own receivers. A newspaper column titled “Notas radiotelefónicas,” inaugurated shortly following the October PWX broadcast and written by J. M. Baquero, announced early on that since General Electric and Westinghouse sold sets at such prohibitive prices, the column would dedicate much of its space to helping readers build their own receivers.70 According to Baquero, anyone equipped with his instructions could construct a receiving set with a cigar box, some tinfoil, a telephone, and a few other household items.71 The numerous letters and responses posted in subsequent columns, full of questions about antennae or the merits of different kinds of wire, suggest that many readers became builders, rather than purchasers, of radios. Cubans spent a great deal of energy trying to figure out which machine to use, which to build, and how many ways to use it. In newspapers and publications, diagrams mapped out how to assemble bits of wire, coils, cardboard, and metal most efficiently. Marked with neat numbers and labels for each of the parts, the bird’s-eye and three-quarter views rendered the machines both impressive and accessible, bound to succeed, because of their complexity, and possible to assemble with a modicum of determination. The listener these machines and diagrams called forth was self-sufficient, competent, and attentive to precision and detail. Having a radio was about not so much entertainment as membership in a mechanically minded, electronically literate community. The diagrams, the worrying about antennae, and the anxiety about translated manuals suggest that the machines held an allure perhaps even distinct from their function. Part of the fascination derived from the tactile, palpable connection to this invention.72 The presence of these machines gave rise to an assortment of other occupations and preoccupations. The vendors, “radio-doctors,” writers, re ce ive rs
commentators, and instructors formed part of a cluster of people and activities centered on the equipment. Jorge González, member of a signal marine corps, found a new market for his skills when he became an instructor at the new Academia de Radiotelefonía. Cuba’s Department of Communications opened its own academy and sought both instructors and students. And translators were busy producing Spanish-language versions of books on radio.73 The machines spawned a collection of people concerned with how to explain their function, how to keep them working, how to use them in different ways, and how to sell them. The rise of broadcasters and performers may in fact have been preceded by and dependent on the community of mechanics, engineers, publishers, and pedagogues this medium supported.74 Listening practices cannot easily be determined from the sources. In December 1922, commentators witnessed different modes of listening throughout Havana: a walk on a concert night revealed inhabitants attuned to radios in elite and modest residences, grouped in clusters in a bicycle shop, or sharing one set of headphones among six people.75 But what were they listening to? Broadcasts were intermittent. PWX broadcast on Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 8:30 until 10:30 p.m., playing musical programs and speeches in Spanish.76 The programming was somewhat haphazard. In November, the station broadcast the proceedings of the American Medical Congress. Why, asked Baquero, were there no broadcasts of the opera or of religious services or meetings of other social organizations?77 His was a lone voice calling for some consideration of programming. It was almost as if content didn’t matter much. Instead, radio seems to have appealed precisely because it held out the possibility of receiving noise from other parts of the world. Listeners did not require that what they heard make sense or provide sustained information or entertainment, or that it dispense up-to-date news regarding sports matches, political events, or natural catastrophes. Such expectations would come later. Early users imagined that radio could access and sonically represent the fragmented and dispersed nature of the world—this medium, much more than others that preceded it, gave the impression of transparency.78 The ether, replete with all sorts of noise, could be captured. As commentator Julián Power of Carteles put it, radio sounded like this: “Celeste Aida . . . oiga, quítese de la línea . . . ik, ik, ik . . . Celeste Ai . . . brrrr . . . Station KKK? . . . Toc-toc-toc . . . señores y señoras, va a cantar Sylvia . . . ik, ik, ik . . . you, my baby flapper . . . tratachín, trtachín . . . jabón de reuter! . . . toc, toc . . . ese melyto, a la reja . . . solo de violín por . . .”79 Power evinced exasperation with this listening experience and with most listeners who seemed to enjoy and 54 re ce ive rs
indeed seek it out. For early users of radio, like wireless operators, radio’s growing appeal sprang from its capacity to offer access to distant domains of sound. Perhaps, for some, what was exciting and really new was not that they might receive coherent and easily audible concerts from across town but rather that they might, on some clear evening, find themselves listening to bits of a boxing match or a weather report from hundreds of miles away. The evidence suggests that the content and programming of broadcasting took shape much more slowly than the dissemination of technical knowledge about these machines. From this perspective, programming seems an afterthought rather than the main attraction. At the onset, radio as a medium lacked a clear purpose: what it was for, the services it might provide, the parameters of time and taste, and the demographics and interests of anticipated audiences were not at all clear. Thus broadcasting did not insert itself into existing listening practices but rather hovered on the margins, seeking ways to make itself relevant despite considerable technical constraints. Such an anticonsumerist engagement with radio proved frustrating to General Electric and Westinghouse executives, whose own projections had included profits from purchases of receivers. Broadcast advertising was not yet a major generator of income, and Cuba did not require the licensing of receivers, as did Great Britain.80 The companies, whose expansion into Latin America had been premised on growing profits in the face of continuing economic difficulties, embarked on a concerted effort to convince Cubans to buy new receiving sets.81 Given the high cost and the unproven nature of the machines themselves, the General Electric and Westinghouse campaigns appealed to expectations of gender and class. Marketing strategies included persuading potential buyers that receivers were easy to use, attractive, and would foster sophisticated, renewed social relations. Steve Wurtzler’s work on marketing of receivers in the United States has demonstrated the ways that manufacturers worked to transform equipment from apparatuses worthy of garages or basements to pieces of furniture appropriate for living rooms and parlors.82 A similar logic seems to have been at work in Cuba, as demonstrated by the advertisements in the pages of Carteles and Social, publications that served as Havana’s principal arbiters of bourgeois taste. One General Electric ad promises that listeners will “dance with radio,” offering the appeal of dancing in one’s own home, to the best music coming “from Chicago or New York.”83 A drawing of well-dressed couples waltzing on a veranda of what seems to be a large house suggests that the receiver’s proper place was in the homes and entertainments of the wealthy. The radio could turn a home or a veranda into a private concert hall or a dance floor. re ce ive rs
“Dance with Radio,” General Electric Company of Cuba radiotelephony advertisement, 1922. (Carteles)
Other ads promoted the receiver’s simplicity. Itself simple, the ad included a line drawing of a receiver, accompanied by the claim that it would receive all the concerts broadcast from the United States.84 Continuing with this theme, some ads included images of tuned-in children, simultaneously touting the possibilities of strengthening family ties, fostering cosmopolitan attitudes, and operating accessible technologies: “Pepito and Bebita, before going to bed, listen to a story that their grandpa transmits to them from Chicago or New York.”85 RCA promoted its receivers in a similar manner. Assurances to potential buyers included clarity of sound and reception from great distances (always the United States, in these ads) without static. They also claimed simplicity, ease, and affordability, the latter somewhat undermined by the drawings of elegantly dressed young women gathered around a receiver in a well-appointed parlor. It seemed to matter little that they neglected to explain the array of machines with specialized names: the “Radiola Super-Heterodyne” and “Radiola Regenoflex” were both promoted as equally easy to use and effective.86 Readers were promised membership in a transnational audience. The ads were selling a relationship with North America as much as an apparatus. 56 re ce ive rs
“Pepito and Bebita, before going to bed, listen to a story that their grandpa transmits to them from Chicago or New York,” General Electric Company of Cuba advertisement, 1922. (Carteles)
Against the emerging and existing practices of listening in the street or in public places, or of constructing equipment and searching for esoteric emanations from multiple locations, RCA and General Electric waged a campaign to promote listening in homes. They were particularly interested in marketing to young women, couples, or families who desired to listen to concerts or other programs broadcast from the United States. The acquisition of manufactured radio sets moved spaces of electronically mediated listening from the street to the home, from a male- occupied nook or closet to a female-dominated shared living space. The public that General Electric, Westinghouse, and RCA hoped to foster was enclosed in private space and reliant on a commercial company for entertainment. It was a public whose members sought cosmopolitan connections in the comfort of their home, enjoyed regular diversions at regular intervals that might move easily from consuming the machines to consuming what the machines told them to buy, and that would integrate new technologies into traditional rituals of courtship, childrearing, or conviviality. re ce ive rs
Street listening persisted, however, taking on new dimensions. In March 1923, Humberto Giquel mounted a radio and loudspeaker on a car and presented it at carnival, during which the car, draped in flags and paper flowers, paraded the streets. Photographs show the curiosity of onlookers, falling perhaps short of bedazzlement, but certainly indicating the novelty of the “radio-auto.”87 Just as Havana expanded out from its urban core and more cars began to appear, Giquel linked sound with mobility as a new mode of inhabiting urban space.88 The loudspeakers themselves were worthy of display, as in the exhibit of a giant loudspeaker with a woman perched on top. Underscoring the new commodification of sound, the ad jokingly denied the commodification of women—asserting that though the loudspeaker was for sale, its model was not.89 As the “magician of the twentieth century,” electronically broadcast sound inspired inventors and entrepreneurs to generate an array of uses. It might expand and fuel the entertainment industry, generate and fulfill consumerist demands, or fill urban spaces with (more) noise.90 This pleased some observers, and i rritated others. While fully sanctioned and supported by the Cuban government, broadcasting was not under the government’s aegis or control. Quickly enough, it was determined that radio would pay for itself with advertising. The advertising itself reflected a variety of interests—local, domestic, international—all on the airwaves at different intervals. Large U.S. companies such as Gillette claimed airtime, as did Cuban producers of beer and soap. As U.S.-based advertising agencies opened branches in Havana, Cubans adapted techniques and strategies to local demands, products, and conditions.91 Advertising, and the generally cacophonous nature of broadcasting, came under criticism. One critic bemoaned the ubiquity of the “Satanic prostitute [jinete]”92 and forecast a future in which loudspeakers on street corners would “incessantly bombard helpless cities with hymns to Palmolive soap and Gaitera cider.” He objected not just to the advertising but to the porosity of aural borders that it signaled. “Latin America” he wrote, “is already suffering the torment of constant entertainment in perpetual English from our big and good friend to the north. When we begin to receive broadcasts from China and Europe, we’ll be in Babel, with visits to the insane asylum.”93 Other critics worried that broadcasting was bankrupting live performances, disrupting family life (“the children won’t go to bed”), and wreaking havoc on courtship as lovers seduced by the “acoustic octopus” neglected their partners.94 The anxiety, of course, indicated the medium’s growing popularity. Cubans’ relative wealth and their readiness to adopt a variety of listening 58 re ce ive rs
practices meant widespread access, at home for the better off, but also in public spaces, where open windows and doors allowed anyone walking past to partake of the sounds emanating from interiors. Loudspeakers remained in cafés and plazas even after the push toward privatized listening. By the late 1930s advertisers estimated that 45 percent of Cubans listened to radio on a regular basis.95
Searching the Ether for the Harmonies That Daily Vibrate through It Assumptions about the wonders of wireless and evidence of its growing appeal drove dissatisfaction in places that had not yet acquired it. In Jamaica, the politics of empire informed this dissatisfaction. Kingston’s Daily Gleaner noted, with more apprehension than wonder, the ways the United States was coming to control communications circuits of vast reach. It reported on the creation of RCA, which would take over from Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America using wireless rather than cable to enable faster and cheaper communication between the United States, Hawaii, Britain, France, Scandinavia, China, and Japan. The network was formed, according to a company spokesman quoted in the Gleaner, to ensure that something as sensitive and vital as the flow of information would “remain in the hands of loyal american citizens.”96 Where previously the “[U.S.] government had looked with grave concern upon the participation of a foreign corporation in wireless affairs, those objections have now been eliminated.” From Jamaica’s perspective, however, wireless was elsewhere. The U.S. Navy was just completing the construction of the “world’s largest and most powerful station” in France, originally conceived in the midst of war to transmit information between the two countries.97 When it noted that the British were also building wireless networks, the Gleaner observed that plans to link up the British Empire extended first through Africa and then India, but not the West Indies. Articles on wireless listed many newly connected places with a palpable sense that Jamaica was being bypassed. The lament appeared in an article about the Prince of Wales’s upcoming speech on Armistice Day. In response to a London inquiry as to Jamaica’s plans for broadcasting the speech, the Gleaner had to reply that “unfortunately voice broadcasting was impossible from England.”98 The colonial state was slow to develop broadcasting in the West Indies. Shortwave radio, considered a higher priority, had been used to communicate for military purposes. As in the U.S. invasions of the Caribbean, communications technology was entangled with British imperial warfare re ce ive rs
and political strategies in the early years of the twentieth century. The British government, aided by Guglielmo Marconi, conceived of radio primarily for “long-distance, point-to-point communication that promised to bridge the emotional, political and commercial distances of empire.”99 And indeed, by 1927, the British had established wireless systems for point-to-point communications across the West Indies. While they had by then begun to develop broadcasting in some parts of the empire, plans to do so in the West Indies did not materialize. Proposals to build higher-powered stations that might eventually have a range of capacities including broadcasting remained a low priority. The less expensive, if less reliable, shortwave point-to-point systems would remain the principal infrastructural investment for years to come.100 In Kingston, ham radio operators paid close attention to the swelling radio presence in Cuba and used the Cuban example to clamor for more attention to broadcasting on the island. While wireless operators were growing in number, they often suffered from technical ignorance, drowning out any possibility of reception with the “howls and whistles” born of poor tuning. They had attempted to organize a club, but “lack of cooperation” led it to fall apart. Better coordination might improve this, but what Jamaica really needed, argued the amateurs, was its own station. In the first of many pleas, they noted in 1924 that Cuba had already built thirty-one broadcasting stations, while Jamaica had none.101 As more radio stations appeared in Britain as well as other parts of the Caribbean, a variety of individuals and organizations began to pressure the colonial state to build a station in Jamaica. Local entrepreneurs requested licenses and permission to build stations, only to be ignored or turned away. In 1931 the chairman of the Jamaica Telephone Company, Lewis Ashenheim, submitted a proposal to the colonial secretary and the council offering to cooperate with the government in building a station, not, he claimed, for the commercial advantages, but rather so the government might “avail itself of the general advantages afforded by the presence of such a station in Jamaica.” When the council met to consider this proposal they were unimpressed, stating that “the time was not opportune to consider such a request.”102 Other similar appeals also went unheeded. It would be 1938 before Jamaica acquired a broadcasting station. Meanwhile, the BBC had inaugurated its shortwave Empire Service in 1932. Emissions from Daventry aimed across the “Dominions” were intended to create a sonic imagined community that would share and develop a sense of belonging through listening to British aural spectacles, such as the royal jubilee, the royal wedding in 1934, or the launch of the 60 re ce ive rs
Queen Mary. But this sonic community was imagined in racially specific terms. As a BBC report stated baldly, “The service also included entertainment programmes of all kinds and they are, of course, essentially British in character, likely to appeal to ‘white’ populations in the colonies.”103 In Jamaica, the BBC’s audience was limited to those who could afford shortwave radios. By this time listeners in the United States, Latin A merica, and Europe had been tuning in to the radio for at least a decade, and many stations broadcast in shortwave. Depending on the quality of reception, Jamaican listeners had access to extensive programming that included popular music, variety shows, and radio plays. Along with schedules of the BBC’s Empire Service, the Daily Gleaner published schedules of several stations in the United States and Europe. Equipment and weather permitting, Jamaican elites could listen to Glenn Miller’s orchestra, The Burns and Allen Show, or any number of Cuban stations on a daily basis. They could tune in to Haitian stations, as Haiti began commercial broadcasting in 1935, following almost a decade of government-controlled radio.104 Or they might capture the news from London or a “Good Neighbor” broadcast from Mexico to the United States.105 In this they were part of a transnational listening audience that had emerged around shortwave. Throughout the Caribbean, people were able to listen to faraway places long before they could tune in to local broadcasts. But this was a limited audience, constrained by the expense of the equipment and its relative scarcity as a commodity. By some estimates, out of Jamaica’s population of 1.2 million, fewer than 100,000 had access to receivers by 1940.106 In the context of increasing propaganda emanating from Germany and Italy in the 1930s, the BBC urged the British government to create local stations in the colonies so as to better control programming.107 Still reluctant to pay for stations, the government did concede the importance of tighter controls over programming and directed colonial committees to explore the possibility of building local stations. Nonetheless the committees remained mired in disagreements over cost and ultimate accountability. A committee created in Jamaica in 1934 issued a report in 1937 that estimated costs at about £53,000 rather than the originally projected £5,000. Colonial officials considered that exorbitant, but they also rejected any requests to combine public funding with some commercial revenues.108 In this they traded expressions of frustration, as each side blamed the other for the failure to move forward. Officials in Britain downplayed their role and blamed the Jamaicans. “All that remained to be done,” wrote one official referring to Jamaican plans for a broadcasting station, “was for the Jamaicans to vote the necessary money and get on with it. Although, re ce ive rs
however, these arrangements were concluded a year ago and we have had no report that any definite progress has in fact been made.”109 Impelled and frustrated, it would appear, by the increasing variety of programs available over shortwave, several activists took up the cause of broadcasting. Women were among the most vocal. Journalist and novelist Esther Chapman and social reformer Violet Allwood published calls for broadcasting to take a prominent role in a new Jamaica. Allwood, known for her work in family planning and educational reform, conducted a public campaign for a local station in Jamaica because, as she remembered later during a trip to Cuba, “my embarrassment was considerable when I admitted we had no broadcasting station.”110 She struck a deal with the Cuba Transatlantic Radio Corporation in which the company would rebroadcast “the best NBC programs” from a Cuban station that received them directly from the United States, so that they could be heard via shortwave in Jamaica. She was particularly interested in programs such as RCA’s Metro Opera and Magic Key. In 1938, Esther Chapman also skirted around the “embarrassing” lack of a local station in Jamaica by collaborating with station HH2S in Haiti to broadcast English-language programs intended for Jamaica and the British West Indies every evening.111 Despite these efforts, reception of shortwave broadcasts from abroad remained problematic. The island’s topography rendered reception uneven at best, infuriatingly full of static and noise. Indeed, as one observer noted years later, “before 1947 the listener suffered acutely from the difficulties of obtaining good quality reception in an area subject to severe atmospheric and other interference.”112 Jamaicans lost out in particular both because of “difficult mountainous terrain” and frequent “interference by foreign stations encroaching on the allotted frequencies.”113 Jamaica’s amateur wireless operators continued to fiddle with their machines, always hoping for better reception. One writer offered to open his home and expertise to those who might like to adjust their equipment so as to mitigate the “suffering from terrific destruction of musical programmes due to improper tuning” of receiving sets in Kingston. As in Cuba, reception of KDKA in Pittsburgh seemed to be the standard by which operators measured their success. As they jockeyed for position in the world of enthusiasts, some claimed to have found the key to reception of KDKA “without Aerial or Earth,” while others countered skeptically that such good luck resulted from local conditions that “must be exceptionally good.”114 Five years later, some evidence points to shortwave listening to distant broadcasts. “I have heard in Jamaica Big Ben tolling midnight,” noted a letter included in the Gleaner’s symposium on broadcasting, 62 re ce ive rs
“through a short wave built by a gentleman who among his other hobbies includes the fascinating one of searching the ether for the harmonies that daily vibrate through it or the news of the great and busy world beyond.” But it was too little too late, and the source of some consternation: it was humiliating to have to “take in consideration that all the little republics which surround Jamaica (even . . . Haiti which is written of so disparagingly in these pages) have Broadcasting stations and why should Jamaica the most advanced British colony of the West Indies not be in line and have one.”115 Businessmen in the tourist industry pushed the advantages and possibilities of radio—advantages enjoyed presumably by other places like Cuba—especially hard. In so doing they relied on radio’s potential to simultaneously create and bridge distance. Paradoxically, they didn’t care about receiving news or feeling connected to the world. Instead, they argued that radio could help designate Jamaica a respite from that world. The benefits they imagined involved the potential to inform “the world” about Jamaica’s advantages as a tourist site: “I can conceive of no better medium,” wrote Claude S. de Pinto, “of advertising the beauties and attractions of this beautiful island than by means of this newest invention.”116 Another observer noted that “the island in general desires that the world should know of the wonderful natural things which the colony is in possession of. A few days’ journey to sun-kissed Jamaica relieves the rheumatic cripple and gives life to the weak-chested. A broadcasting station can help us in educating the world in regard to these facts.”117 The majority of people included in this 1929 Gleaner symposium—most of them from the tourist industry—imagined the radio as a tool with which to remind people of Jamaica’s attractiveness as a place that was distant, exotic, and unspoiled. To be sure, they understood that a truly seductive tropicality shouldn’t stray too far from familiarity. As G. W. Scotland noted in his letter to the Gleaner, Jamaica ought to benefit from additional qualities that would appeal to tourists. Not only was it a mere five days from New York and two weeks from Europe, but also “in Jamaica we speak the English language and British freedom is paramount.”118 Radio appealed to these people not only because it shrank distances but also because it expanded them, demarcating the region as exotic and remote. Moreover, Jamaican businessmen participated in the region’s relegation as distinct from “the world,” as they endeavored both to bring “the world” to their islands and to advertise their tropical delights to “the world.” Radio was implicated in this process, creating a geography that made some places part of the world and others somehow outside of it. Ironically, it was the re ce ive rs
intensified technological connections that would propel the mapping of these imagined boundaries between the “tropics” and “the world.” While some people (and historians, in hindsight) projected the shrinking of distances, others emphasized and depended on its simultaneous creation of distances. In relation to this, people used radio to blot out the very linkages and connections under which it came into being—if it was assembled through the bringing together of materials from all over the world, it produced categories that ignored those connections. The frequent refrain that the Caribbean was distinct from “the world” came to be part of a vocabulary of remoteness and isolation—and its conquest—that surrounded wireless and radio.
Coda of Misunderstanding Jamaican businessmen’s vocabulary echoed that of market surveys, in which the “world” tried to gauge the volume of sounds coming from and going to the region. In the 1920s the U.S. Department of Commerce conducted surveys that aimed to measure the market potential for manufactured receivers in Latin America and the Caribbean. These surveys took in and reiterated some of the conditions and ramifications of radio in Havana, Kingston, and Port-au-Prince. At the same time, they missed a great deal and wildly misread some circumstances. Did the Caribbean constitute a market? Did its residents have the means and desire to receive more receivers? The surveys added more data without necessarily providing answers. One extensive survey conducted in 1925 indicates the uneven distribution of receivers. While certain places seemed blanketed in sound and, indeed, produced it for the rest of the region, others remained electronically silent. Mexico City had by far imported the largest numbers of receivers and seemed to enjoy what the industry perceived as a robust market. In the Caribbean, by contrast, “static and resulting unsatisfactory reception [was] prevalent throughout the region.” Despite that, according to the survey, “Cuba offers the best market for radio sets and parts,” with an estimated 3,000 receivers in Havana. Even though it had only two broadcasting stations “in the full sense of the word,” the forty-five amateurs operating there made for the possibility of brisk sales.119 But Havana was an exception in Cuba. In Santiago, apparently, “there was dissatisfaction with radio,” “it being believed that the large amount of iron ore in the surrounding mountains makes satisfactory reception practically impossible.” For Jamaica, Haiti, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Santo Domingo, the surveys could only say that “very little 64 re ce ive rs
has taken place in the use of radio receivers.”120 The conclusions drawn in these surveys would confirm the status of technological imperialism as “lumpy.” Talking machines created, as one observer noted, “zones of dependability” and “dead spots.”121 In Haiti, one of those “dead spots,” most of the sets were in the hands of Americans, who brought them there. Apart from that, there were only about 200 store-bought receivers on the island. At the same time, this very notion of “dead spots” allowed for the affirmation of claims about distance between Haiti and the United States. In 1927, an article reported that broadcasts from “Haitian radio stations are bringing that island republic of the Caribbean closer to the outside world.”122 International Telephone and Telegraph reported that HHK was picked up in Colorado and Connecticut, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. Even as Haiti was under U.S. occupation and had been unwillingly drawn into military, cultural, and political proximity with the United States for over a decade, it was still possible to imagine Haiti as completely isolated when broadcasts delivered sporadic tunes to distant receivers. In that sense the surveys were in step with the processes at play at the onset of broadcasting in the region. As such they foreshadowed much of the historiography that notes the uneven translations of technology or reiterates the chorus about the Caribbean and the “outside world.” But they missed some fundamental characteristics. Almost comically, they noted that “talent in Cuba is limited, so the impresario of PWX must revert to broadcasting phonograph records to fill in the allotted time they are on the air.”123 Similarly, they wrote that in Haiti “they are also at a loss for talent so it is difficult to fill the time on the air.”124 In hindsight it is possible to venture that if local musicians were not part of the programming schemes in the early years of broadcasting, this was not because they lacked talent. In their search for manufactured receivers and potential buyers, the surveys also missed the fragile world of homemade receivers and the fascination for machines. And finally, as the surveys continued to understand the Caribbean as distinct from “the world,” they buried the entangled history that built wireless.
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Visitors to Haiti emphasized its sonority. They often found Kreyòl incomprehensible, but they heard drums everywhere, and drums carried specific meanings. In her travel narrative A Puritan in Voodoo-Land (1935), Edna Taft writes of an audible morality expressed through music. While still offshore, she identifies the “far-off sound of Voodoo drums . . . slow, rhythmic, and ominous.” Upon disembarking, she found redemptive sounds as well: “The Voodoo drums in the distance still rumbled on, vaguely disquieting. Then the chimes of the church rang out, sweet and clear. The voice of the Good chiding the voice of Evil. I went to sleep with the bells still echoing.”1 Taft wrote from within a politics of sound, in which boundaries between sound and noise were interpreted, policed, and mapped onto ongoing debates about cultural essence in imperial contexts. Beginning with drumming and ending with radio agitators, this chapter scans the region for stories of the politics of sound amid technological change. John Houston Craige, an American who would eventually run Port-au-Prince’s radio station in the late 1920s, had a great deal to say about the dangers of drums. If we are to believe a profile in the New Yorker of April 4, 1925, Craige arrived in Haiti after a peripatetic and pugnacious life that involved being tried and acquitted for a murder related to a gambling incident, mining in Alaska, and earning a living and a reputation in amateur boxing in Paris. He was a sailor and journalist as well, and eventually ended up in the Marine Corps, in whose employ he was sent to Haiti in 1925.2 In his memoir, Black Bagdad, Craige echoes Taft’s intimations that sound could fray ethical certainties. He describes a marine whose sanity unraveled in Haiti: “The drums seemed to him to be the voice of the evil one, always booming in his ears, threatening him, tempting him.”3 Craige writes of Haiti as a landscape and soundscape of conflict and danger. The environment itself could, according to him, penetrate the bodies and souls of marines. Their whole environment, beginning with the sun, was perilous: “The fierce beams of light pierced my thick sunglasses and smote the 66
nerves of sight until the senses reeled and curtains of fire hung blazing before the tortured retina.”4 People regularly became “enraged by the sun”: “Deep in his body-cells its rays are beginning to brew an insidious, corrosive poison. Heat and loneliness add to its effect. . . . he passes swiftly to a condition of nervous hysteria.”5 The built environment could provide some protection, as shaded remonstrance to the unrelenting light and in defiance of the sun and heat. “There were the church, and the jail, the parish school and the police barracks. Monuments to the energy of a newer race, masterful, powerful, unrelenting, world conquering.”6 According to Craige, combat was sonorous as well as architectural. “On Sundays and holidays music lent an almost unbearable poignancy to these feelings. Child choristers sang that sacred music of the church. Bach, Mozart, Verdi, high and holy carols against a background of the drums. . . . the drums were never quiet. . . . Down at the fords of the rivers they throbbed and wailed. . . . the drums seems to redouble their sobbing and shrieking like ancient genii of the hills enraged at the loss of children’s souls.”7 The drums protested the Christianization of children and exerted their own kind of force. And as described by Craige, they defeated the marines, invading their bodies with unwanted reverberations. He follows the fate of the marine whose sanity dissolved into the soundscape: More than a year in the flea bitten, sun-scorched village of St Michel, where he was the sole representative of the white man’s government. No movies, no radio, none of the features of civilized life to which he was accustomed. . . . for a while he enjoyed the life of St Michel. Then the environment began to get on his nerves. Drums boomed continuously. . . . He sent the gendarmes in charge of his platoon sergeant to stop the drums. He thought he was king in the district, and of course he was, but to stop the drums of the Haitian hill country proved about as difficult for him. . . . drums were confiscated by the carload but other drums took up the chorus and the booming kept up its rhythmic, interminable throb. . . . then he walked abroad in these fits, it seemed that every nerve in his body jerked and quivered with each pulsation of the drums.8 Critics have understood Black Bagdad (1933) as an expression of the racist hegemonies of Craige’s time.9 Most interpretations stress his emphasis on U.S. Marine power and Haitian vulnerability. Attending to the audiopolitics in Black Bagdad, however, offers new interpretive directions. Listening to its sounds suggests that Haitians were not entirely powerless but rather exerted some opposition that the marines tried to resist. re sist or s
Cover art for John Houston Craige’s Black Bagdad: The Arabian Nights Adventures of a Marine Captain in Haiti. (New York: Minton, Balch, 1933)
Broadcasting was implemented in Haiti in part to help marines mute or drown out the dangerous rhythms of the drums. Because sound requires a medium to support it, it works with and through resistance. Radio works through the resistance of electrons to currents passing through either air or wire. The implementation of radio, telegraph, and telephone are a literal enactment of what Anna Tsing calls friction, or the productive force of encounters, which in colonial settings are “heterogeneous and unequal” but nonetheless generative of “new arrangements of culture and power.”10 The concept of resistance tethers literal and metaphoric meanings and offers a way to think about radio as a thing made of both material—wires, machines, electricity—and social relations. To extend the metaphor to the structure of empire, we might map radio waves, wires, and cables as they run across the ocean or over land. Information flows laterally and in two directions, rather than in a single direction or from the top down. As such, thinking through wires can reorient 68 re sist or s
understandings of empire toward the stuff that connects places and without which the structure would be devoid of meaning. The encounters that appear in the following pages emerged from unequal power relations, but they were never easily imposed. Rather, they were met with local circumstance, or the “sticky materiality of practical encounters.”11 Running through them are wires, currents, and sounds that transformed political repertoires. Resistance flowed in many directions. The wiring of the region created new paths for both conductors and resistors. Scattered sources offer fragments of episodes in the 1930s and early 1940s in which radio, telephone, and telegraph took part in struggles over governance, labor rights, antifascism, and imperialism. In Port-au-Prince, Santiago, Kingston, and Havana, people with technical knowledge and ability to assemble, maintain, and repair the machines emerged as powerful actors, as they utilized their tinkerers’ abilities to pursue specific political agendas.
Farmers’ Chats To contest the menace of Haitian noise (a word derived from the Latin nausea, which means seasickness) Americans added their own sources of sound. Perhaps they were alert to the audible environment because their own had changed so radically in recent years, as loudspeakers, automobiles, and steel construction added to an increasingly busy soundscape in the urban United States.12 American radio had been imagined as a source of education and redemption, and it was under these auspices that Haiti acquired a broadcasting station, expanding its repertoire of wireless communications. Midway through the U.S. occupation (1915–34), William Cumberland and George Fouche Freeman, two officials of the occupation government, purchased and built Haiti’s first radio station. In 1926 HHK broadcast its first programs. Influenced by success stories of broadcasting as an educational tool, Cumberland and Freeman planned to replicate that in Haiti, imagining lectures about modern farming broadcast to rural listeners as a way to update their methods, increase productivity, and ease them away from their drums. They filled the two weekly broadcasting hours with educational talks, hoping that these programs would be welcomed by Haitian farmers. The fragment of evidence that remains, consisting of one very short newspaper item, suggests that the talks were in Haitian Kreyòl, with announcements in English and French. Assuming a need for simplification—with language reminiscent of that of people taming animals—the radio aimed to educate: “Lectures are presented in the simplest language and give [sic] to the people in Creole. No technical re sist or s
terms are used, General Russell reports, and the talks are given by the same announcer in order that the people may become familiar with his voice.”13 Radio spoke in Haitian Kreyòl almost as soon as broadcasting appeared in Haiti. But it was offering what can only be described as patronizing talks sponsored by the U.S. military and intended for Haitian farmers, who presumably already knew how to farm.14 The introduction of mass broadcasting in Haiti proved disastrous. Haitians were not interested in listening. Moreover, the local press immediately understood the station and broadcasting plans as extensions of U.S. imperialism and attacked both the occupation and the Haitian government, which they understood to be a lackey for the United States. Ernest Chauvet of Le Nouvelliste was the most vociferously opposed, pointing to the lack of receivers in rural areas, the unproven claim that broadcasting was effective for rural education, and the amount of Haitian taxpayer money spent on a potentially useless plaything for the U.S. occupation. The educational programs in Kreyòl did not survive this onslaught of criticism, and the weekly broadcast turned instead to capturing elite audiences, both in Haiti and abroad, in English and French. By the time Craige arrived in Port-au-Prince to run HHK in the late 1920s, its mission was to emit classical music interspersed with interviews with elite Haitians. Craige recalled trying to fulfill his assignment to provide one hour per week of programming by roaming the city and countryside in search of musicians as well as interesting members of the Haitian elite to interview. HHK’s shortwave broadcasts, directed abroad and domestically to wealthy owners of shortwave receivers, dropped Kreyòl and combined music and talk in English and French. The French portions were delivered by “a young Haitian named Duroseau,” whom Craige describes as “an excellent violinist” and may in fact have been a member of what Michael Largey calls a “well known elite musical family in Port au Prince.”15 According to Craige, the station enjoyed a measure of success and recognition within and outside of Haiti and received cards from “the United States, Canada, the West Indies and occasionally one from Europe or South America.”16 The search for classical sounds and conversations with elites was part of a sonic struggle threaded through Craige’s account of his days in Haiti. Wealthy Haitians, marines, and other foreigners who could afford shortwave radios might have understood the broadcasting station as a bulwark against the noise of drums and its maddening psychical effects. Once the intention to “civilize” the masses of Haitians proved a failure, HHK dedicated its programming to maintaining the civility and sanity of marines. 70 re sist ors
As a tool of empire, radio did not justify and legitimize the U.S. military presence as much as it aimed to create a sealed world out of which the marines needn’t venture. Rather than creating connections, in this case, it instead cut marines and American civilians off more thoroughly from the land they presumed to dominate. As such, it defended against the corrosive effects of drumming and its frightening ability to penetrate marines’ bodies and psyches. The strains of classical music may have been infrequent, but they were meant to protect and soothe, to resist the encroaching and inescapably unnerving soundscape. The much attenuated educational impetus lived on perhaps more in the aims and intentions of government officials than on the ground. A few years after Craige left the station, the government devised a new project that would install 150 loudspeakers all over the country, many of them in the agricultural schools it had created as part of a vocational school project. Intending to provide Haitians a more “practical” education, the occupied government had created schools dedicated to teaching them technical skills such as farming or mechanics alongside more traditional schools organized around the liberal arts.17 This approach generated criticism from many sectors of Haitian society. Critics accused the U.S. occupation and the puppet government it controlled of destroying an established culture of learning and replacing it with a plan to create a servile population. Moreover, they argued, the disproportionate amount of resources devoted to this project confirmed U.S. disregard for the Haitian educational system. Signs of misspent funds provoked anger and protest among students at those schools. The conflict exploded in an incident in 1930 in Les Cayes. Students began a strike, demonstrating against, among other things, the “radio invasion of rural schools.”18 When the strike spread to other institutions, with crowds on the verge of rioting, marines responded with violence. Ten people died, and in the wake of this incident both occupier and occupied began to push more firmly for the United States to leave the country.19 Beyond radio, U.S. officials had continued in their efforts to gain control of and manage continually troublesome communications technologies. As Craige recalled when he arrived a decade into the occupation, the telephones were still not cooperating. An attempted conversation on the telephone, he recalled, sounded like “a voice buzzed and mumbled from the receiver. Occasionally it would rise to shriek incoherences.”20 The stakes involved in owning Haiti’s telecommunications networks were too high to neglect, and the politics were delicate. In the early spring of 1929, Associated Telephone and Telegraph Company executive W. H. Walter re sist or s
traveled to Haiti and met with General John H. Russell Jr. Walter had proposed purchasing the rights to control telephone and telegraph lines, as well as to operate the broadcasting stations, from the Haitian government, which continued to own them although they were largely operated by the occupying forces.21 General Russell advocated this foreign investment for reasons having little to do with profitability. “It is my belief,” he wrote to the secretary of state, “that the American ownership and operation of the telegraph and telephone system of Haiti would go far toward the above desired end (assuring future stability of Haiti). . . . Furthermore, it is wellknown that in backward countries such as Haiti the control of the telegraph and telephone system by the government is desired in order that the government may strengthen its political position, usually by misuse of the lines. Such could not occur under American management.”22 But the State Department was not convinced. A Mr. Scott of the State Department wrote to Dana Munro, a Latin Americanist scholar soon to be appointed ambassador to Haiti, striking a note of caution. First he noted that the enterprise might not be terribly profitable, since “the number of potential users of the telephone and telegraph system in Haiti will always be limited to a small professional and property owning class, an extremely small proportion of the population of two and one half million.” More important were the “political considerations” that ought to be taken into account. The move would be criticized in Haiti, he argued, “for what will be alleged to be the turning over of Haiti’s public utilities to private interests, or ‘Wall Street.’ ”23 Munro subsequently wrote a letter echoing the concerns about the appearance of an American company’s profiting from a deal in U.S.-occupied Haiti, and the skepticism that any part of this deal would benefit Haitians. Ultimately officials determined that such a transaction would be a public relations disaster, and the request was denied. As it became increasingly evident that Haitians were either indifferent or actively hostile to American intrusions in their sound and communications networks, the broadcasting project was all but abandoned. By 1932, Donald Heath, the American consul in Port-au-Prince, outlined the failures of the project: The Haitian government, several years ago, contemplated installing public address stations in fourteen towns throughout Haiti through which programs of music and educational talks would be brought to the masses. These stations were to be set up in the public squares or in the market place of each town and the programs sent via telephone to the amplifiers. Of the fourteen stations proposed, only eight were 72 re sist or s
installed, and today, only two of the eight are operating intermittently. It has been ascertained that the country people evince no interest in the programs offered. This fact has tended to discourage attempts on the part of the government to continue the programs.24 Broadcasting, imagined by elites as serving educational purposes, had been resisted and dismissed by Haitians as the “bad joke of an incompetent occupation.”25 Haitians did eventually find ways to listen on their own terms. When popular music and humor replaced dull educational programs and classical music, audiences grew. And since most people didn’t own shortwave radios, they gathered at the station itself, making it less of an envoy to distant places and more of a hub that attracted listeners and fostered social interactions. Edna Taft recalled her visit to HHK on a Friday night devoted to music: Afro-American victrola records were played before the microphone: meringues, beguines, rumbas, tangoes, bambucos, interspersed with humorous Creole monologues by a popular Haitian raconteur. . . . Presently another of radio’s impresarios dashed from the room to drive downtown and get another set of gramophone records from the store. . . . [O]utside, peering in, was a vast crowd of Port-au-Prince’s lower classes, making a gay fiesta of HHK’s regular night on the air. . . . Clad in their dress-up clothes, the young girls show bright in bright purples, yellows, pinks and blues, they promenaded back and forth, arm in arm on the greensward, or they sat in groups on the lawn.26 Although HHK eventually closed its doors because of lack of funding, residents of Port-au-Prince had established what kind of listeners they might be.27 In the absence of a government station, Haitian elites understood the potential of commercial radio to put broadcasting under Haitian control and foster those groups of new listeners. In 1935 Haitian businessman Armand Malebranche opened station HH2S, built by a colleague and engineer, Edouard Gentil, who drew on his experience building a station in Puerto Rico the previous year. Malebranche sought out local music groups and domestic sponsors for his nightly, hour-long broadcasts. Since it was a shortwave station, they understood that audiences would be mostly distant, and so they broadcast in English, Spanish, and French. M. Widemaier, an amateur radio operator, built a second station, HH3W, later that year. This station also understood its mandate to be the broadcasting of local musical performances, and its personnel roamed the streets of Port-au-Prince looking for suitable sites from which to broadcast. These more populist stations re sist or s
enjoyed greater success than the government station.28 Five new stations were founded between 1941 and 1947. Broadcasting hours grew from only a few hours per day to almost twenty-one hours. During World War II, according to Georges Corvington, thousands of Port-au-Prince listeners tuned into the news regularly. After the war ended, listeners turned to music. Radio d’Haïti’s broadcasts of live music from the nightclub Cabane Choucoune and Sunday morning jazz broadcasts drew broad, regular audiences.29 Listening publics in Port-au-Prince grew as they responded selectively to programming and navigated the contours of audiopolitics in the capital.
Guns and Radios The material conditions of the infrastructure of radio and the nature of programming both generated new tools that could be harnessed to political causes. As Stephen Kern has argued, the speed with which electronic communications took place created a new sense of the present as “expanded spatially to create the vast, shared experience of simultaneity. The present was no longer limited to one event in one place, sandwiched tightly between past and future and limited to local surroundings.”30 By creating a sense of simultaneity, as listeners understood themselves to be listening along with others, broadcasting technologies opened up new possibilities for social and political life.31 In addition, increasingly fungible boundaries between politics and entertainment opened new ways to reach and stir listening publics. Finally, the technical knowledge required to direct or silence broadcasts became a valued commodity in economies of resistance and persuasion. On the Haitian-Dominican border, radio became embroiled in overt resistance movements. When Rafael Trujillo seized power in the Dominican Republic in 1930, his repressive policies drove the opposition across the border to Cap Haïtien and other towns on the northern part of the island, where they plotted against him. In this context radio formed part of an arsenal of insurgency. People with access to and knowledge of wireless and broadcasting found themselves in the middle of illicit activities and under suspicion. A brief correspondence among various U.S. State Department officials traces the activities of a car dealer named Henry Morales, who lived at the Haitian-Dominican border. In January 1933, J. G. Henderson, an export manager trolling for business, wrote to the American consul in Cap Haïtien, inquiring as to the market conditions for radios in the district.32 74 re sist or s
Vice Consul Corey Wood wrote back almost immediately, with discouraging news: RCA had a corner on the market, through a local dealer named Henry Morales. In any case, it would not be a particularly lucrative venture, as “there is little money available at the present time due to the very low price of coffee which is the main source of revenue.”33 Morales had appeared in the correspondence one year earlier in a different context. The U.S. consul had identified him as a Dominican living in Cap Haïtien for two years as a car dealer. But he was suspected of dealing in arms as well. A letter dated June 10, from Corey Wood to the secretary of state, mentions 150 Dominican refugees working in various ways against Trujillo. Wood enclosed the following report from Harry Brooks, staff sergeant: “While I was sitting in my car (at his auto shop), Mr. Morales approached me and began talking to me. He asked me if we had plenty of rifles, machine guns and hand grenades up to camp. I replied that I guess we had. He then said that a lot of money could be made if it were possible to get hold of about fifty rifles. Machine guns and grenades were also desired and anyone who could get hold of them would be in a position to make plenty of money.”34 The matter of dissidents on the border continued to trouble the U.S. officers into October: “Dominican refugees have continued to create an uneasy feeling and make themselves into a nuisance by continued activity and propaganda which they have hoped would create a feeling of sympathy. . . . eight Dominicans arrested in this district in connection with a cache of arms remain in prison, no action having been taken.”35 As one of those refugees who “created an uneasy feeling,” Morales stood out as a technician with skills and access to machines that might contribute to a political cause. In this case, the combination of cars, radios, and guns would seem to be an effective way of marshaling new technologies to the anti-Trujillo opposition. Opposition groups would rely on this grouping in the years to come. The combined mobility, lethality, and ability to communicate afforded by cars, guns, and radios would prove irresistible to organizations attempting violent action against the state. As it became clear that communications technologies could be used for all kinds of purposes, and for a range of political agendas, those with technical knowledge of machines—the tinkerers, repairmen, technicians, and others with specialized knowledge of how to make machines talk, or how to render them silent—often played crucial roles in political dramas, as did the radios themselves. In the transition from amateur to mass broadcasting, radio’s purpose was ambiguous, and the line between point-to-point and broadcasting was not always clear. It was in their multiple forms that re sist or s
radios continued to play roles, sometimes starring ones, in political spectacles. They could be placed in the service of state repression or in mobilizations against the state, indicating shared assumptions across ideological spectrums about the political capacity of sonic technologies.
The Tiny Talkative Apparatus In the Cuban context, radio as a potentially subversive force coexisted with broadcasting as entertainment and banal accompaniment to quotidian routines. By the mid-1930s, commercial radio was an accessible, voluble presence in Cubans’ daily lives. In addition to the proliferation of loudspeakers in public spaces, which filled the streets with sound and encouraged listening in groups, domestic sets, ever cheaper and easier to use, became a necessary appliance in middle-class households.36 Because Havana had become by this time what Yeidy Rivero calls a “broadcasting hub,” the media permeated urban sonic spaces.37 Broadcasting offered news, ads, and music in eclectic programming that drew from North American models and prerecorded shows as well as local talent.38 On the air, the categories of politics, entertainment, and information often blurred as announcers and programmers tried to broaden their stations’ appeal by offering news interspersed with music, airtime purchased by political parties accompanied by advertisements, and the occasional government missive. Cubans engaged the radio as active participants as well as merely passive listeners. While radionovelas probably enjoyed the widest listenership, radio programmers sought ways to appeal to audiences more directly with contests, lotteries, and call-in shows, broadcast both nationally and locally.39 The extent to which radio had become a vital part of daily life as well as a weapon in political struggles is evident in Páginas de ayer, by Juan María Ravelo (Santiago, 1943), an account of a clandestine radio station in Santiago de Cuba. This station operated during the final years of Cuban president Gerardo Machado’s regime, which then enjoyed only shreds of its former legitimacy. Although Machado had been popular among nationalists and advocates for reform when he was first elected in 1924, by 1933 the populace had largely turned against him. A hastily rewritten constitution that guaranteed his reelection in 1928 had set off a round of protests and antigovernment mobilization. The Great Depression, which hit Cuba as hard as any nation, stripped him of any remaining domestic support. During the strikes of the spring and summer of 1933, the United States sent envoys and representatives to protect the considerable U.S. investments and express increasing doubts about Machado’s regime.40 76 re sist or s
In this context of “constant struggle and desperate efforts,”41 the clandestine radio station began to operate in Santiago. The station spoke to its furtive listeners and described the ongoing skirmishes: “The city listened anxiously at regular intervals, in the safety of their homes and at a prudent, low volume, to news broadcasts from a mysterious station, which struggled against the state of things . . . and spoke in the name of the revolutionaries.”42 Not only did the station “lift the spirits of friendly ears,” as the author put it, it also drove the authorities to distraction as they turned the city upside down looking for it. The heroic station did not, of course, act alone. It had an accomplice: Guillermo Polanco, the radio technician who had built the very small, portable transmitter. Together, the story goes, they engaged in struggle. The intrigue began when Polanco shared his accomplishment with a friend, who happened to be a member of an anti-Machado organization. Despite considerable obstacles, Polanco’s tiny machine was conscripted into efforts to bring down the government. In order to begin broadcasting, the station needed to be housed in a safe location, which proved challenging amid the heightened suspicion and surveillance. Rumors warned that all radio stations would be subject to arbitrary and imminent search. In addition, the transportation strike made it difficult to obtain secure transport for the secret equipment. The narrative reveals how the station and its technicians got around these obstacles. They found a physician friend who was willing to use his vehicle, one of few on the road, for transport. As they were ferrying the transmitter to its new home, they nearly collided with policemen in the street. The equipment, hidden in a sack, was almost mistaken for a bag of stolen goods. It arrived safely at the home of an anti-Machado associate and began its punctual broadcasts, which both fired up the populace and infuriated law enforcement. In order to protect the station, the technicians spent the night with it in the house, but the next day, after hearing that all radio stations were being searched and Polanco was a wanted man, they decided to move it to a safer place. They moved it to a house next door that had been partially destroyed by the most recent hurricane, and they put it in a small room, where “the tiny, talkative apparatus continued to be the object of intense public interest.”43 No better place, according to Ravelo, than a ruin from which to broadcast. “The station continued its unwavering work, daring its persecutors to come after it, and coming to own the space.” It transmitted not just words but “ideas, with their undeniable power,” that “expanded into the rarified space” and finally “came to forecast and predict their ultimate triumph.” The narrative ends with the re sist or s
radio continuing its broadcasts even after Machado’s downfall the following day, urging residents to act in a cordial and orderly fashion.44 In Páginas de ayer, the station was a perfect instrument of resistance, creating an antigovernment listening public of supporters as it spoke from hidden recesses, bringing revolution to the people secretly, inexorably, and safely. Indeed, its reach overtook that of the printed word by speaking to those who could not read or afford a newspaper. The ephemeral nature of radio worked to its advantage. Broadcasts could be heard by anyone within range, but they left no trace. A silent receiver appeared innocent, leaving nothing tangible for authorities to hold as evidence. Like a romantic hero who “embodies the forward historical movement and drives the narrative out of the dark and into the light,” the station played a leading role in the drama of resistance against a tyrant.45 Yet some elements of the story bring friction and entanglement to this narrative of resistance. First, it is relevant to note that law enforcement pursued the clandestine radio with insistence and did everything in its power to shut off the sound. One unintended consequence of the clandestine station’s installation was thus intensified surveillance and attention to communications networks as possibly subversive. Also worth noting is the complicated position of the tinkerer-cum-broadcaster. Both Polanco and the anti-Machado mobilization needed the infrastructure in place as well as the network of radio receivers throughout the city. Moreover, the clandestine broadcasters relied on the conventions elaborated as part of the practice of radio broadcasting. Commercial radio had invented those practices, including broadcasts at regular intervals and a format in which an announcer delivered news and commentary with compelling oratory, in order to attract both advertising and consumer-listeners. Indeed, the very forces against which many anti-Machado groups were protesting— imperialism and an overly cozy relationship with U.S. capital—were those that had introduced radio in the first place, along with training for technicians and receivers for listeners. David Scott’s injunction to ask after “desires for inclusion” as much as subversive intentions in explaining postcolonial societies rings true here.46 Those who situated themselves in opposition to the state were at the same time sharing its premises and partaking of its technologies.
Coils and Plugs In the political crises that unfolded in Cuba after Machado’s overthrow, technicians used their skills and access to communications technologies 78 re sist or s
to effectively sabotage government activities. Civil unrest and labor discontent did not end with the ouster but rather grew as the government that replaced Machado’s seemed increasingly unsatisfactory to many Cubans. In March 1934, labor strikes swept across the island. Initiated by sugar workers, the strike soon encompassed railroad and port workers, pharmacists, bakers, food wholesalers, truckers, and shoemakers. The lack of essential services brought the government to the negotiating table, but in the end, talks deteriorated and each side retreated. The president suspended constitutional guarantees, a measure that included censorship of newspapers and surveillance of telegraph and telephone communications.47 If the government understood how crucial the circulation of information was in this labor struggle, so did strikers, for the following day all telephone workers from the Cuban Telephone Company walked off their jobs. Many of them also cut cables on their way out, inflicting at least $100,000 in damage and debilitating the network for at least ten days. This move silenced 33,000 telephones in Havana and 6,000 in the provincial areas. In addition, six radio stations and the wires dedicated to transmitting banking and financial information, also controlled by the Cuban Telephone Company, fell silent.48 As the strike dragged on, food rotted on docks and the government tried to silence its critics, including newspapers. But it had more difficulty coping with the silent telephones. Because their actions had such disruptive consequences, telephone workers were, according to the newspapers, among the strikers the government found “most menacing.”49 For some telephone company employees it reserved an extreme reaction. Twenty were arrested and forced to work at gunpoint.50 Four days later the government had managed to find enough strikebreakers to get the telephone service running again. Where it could not find employees willing to operate the telephones, it used members of the military and rural guard. But these new workers, not always sufficiently trained to use and repair the equipment, must have faced considerable challenges.51 In this context, a repairman could wield a great deal of power. The documentary record has left a few traces of ways tinkerers were able to disrupt the flow of communication and, in some instances, disturb the certainties of those purportedly in control. For example, the Tribunal de Urgencia in Santiago heard a number of cases arising from conflicts between the replacements and the strikers or their associates. In the midst of the March strike, José María Blanco, a thirty-year-old repairman from Spain, was accused by rural guardsman Armelio Sierra of cutting all the telephone lines in Holguín, a town near Santiago, and stealing all the tools from the main telephone office, effectively cutting off communication by telephone. re sist or s
Sierra also maintained that Blanco had taken many coils needed to make the phones work, leaving only the ones for the barracks, city hall, the hospital, the fire station, and the pharmacy. The judge ordered Blanco’s fellow telephone workers to testify. Of the five women who testified, only one saw him take coils, but she asserted that he did not take any tools. No one testi fied that he had cut any wires. When Blanco himself testified, he admitted to taking the coils, in order to support striking workers, but he denied cutting wires or stealing tools. He returned the coils and reinstalled them a week later, restoring service.52 This puzzling episode speaks to the role of knowledge. The rural guardsman who had been placed in a supervisory role revealed that he had a vague grasp of the technology at work. Had he asserted that the wires were cut in order to inflate the charges or to defend his own inability to replace the missing coils? Was Blanco the only repairman in the area, and were those the only coils available? The documents do not answer these questions, but it is possible to surmise that Blanco’s ability to cause such a crisis underscores the ways those with a measure of technical knowledge could intervene in labor conflicts and exert influence. The rural guardsman’s belief in the indispensable nature of transmitted sound and his ignorance of the technology led him to exaggerate Blanco’s actions. The advent of technologies meant greater surveillance, but it resulted in bungled prosecutions. Blanco himself seemed to be acting with an understanding, in this case quite accurate, that he could effectively interfere with major communications networks. In July 1934 the Cuban Telephone Company workers struck again in a dispute over how the initial strike had been settled.53 More than 1,000 workers pulled all the fuses in the central office and cut all lines to the United States. Again, this prevented many domestic and transnational communications. Newspapers used words like “paralyzed” to describe the state of the island. Two weeks later, the ongoing strike led the government to take a drastic measure. It took over the American-owned Cuban Telephone Company, prompting American worries that this might be the beginning of a trend threatening the numerous U.S. investments in Cuba. In any case, additional anxiety about the possibility of sabotage also resulted in the presence of more military guards at the telephone offices.54 Labor escalated the conflict on August 12, as the telegraph and mail workers joined the strike to mark the anniversary of Machado’s downfall. The sense of crisis increased as the Cuban army proved incapable of delivering the mail. As the newspapers reported, the only way to communicate any information was through the few independent broadcasting stations 80 re sist ors
whose personnel were not on strike. But conveying personal messages through radio broadcasts was undoubtedly unsatisfying and inefficient.55 Even if the military had succeeded in its efforts to replace all striking workers, it had to cope with damaged and missing equipment. The army and navy communications services were barely adequate to cover crucial government dispatches, but they could not do much else. Under heavy military guard, undertrained replacements scrambled to provide at least some telegraph, telephone, and mail services. In this context any sign of trouble was used as an excuse to clamp down on strikers, as government officials panicked in the face of technology’s failure. The same day that telegraph workers resumed their strike, José Antonio Pascual, an employee of the Santiago telegraph office, was turned in by his acting supervisor, who complained that Pascual had refused to go to the train station to pick up shipments (literally suitcases full) of telegrams, which were arriving in this unusual manner because of the strike. Pascual acknowledged that he had indeed refused, but he pointed out that since it had been Sunday, there would have been no delivery. Since there was no real charge, Pascual was released on the following day, August 14.56 For some reason, however, the judge was dissatisfied and had a telegram sent to a judge in a different district, asking for more information on the case. Unfortunately, because of the strike, this telegram did not arrive in the neighboring town until August 20. Pascual again appeared before a judge on August 23, but by that time a general amnesty for striking workers had been declared, and the case was dropped.57 The details of the case suggest that the supervisor, a member of the Rural Guard, was unfamiliar with the workings of the office and quick to accuse this particular worker of a misdemeanor—an accusation that reveals his lack of leverage in demanding that workers do as they were ordered. It also reminds us of the real disruption of the court system that striking communications workers could cause. The small example of such a long delay in a relatively trivial case underscores the crucial nature of these technologies at this time. If among the telegrams that went undelivered were those from courts and judges attempting to try the very people responsible for the disturbances, then technology, or the lack thereof, trumped and thwarted the law. And yet, once the strikers went back to work they would also necessarily be serving not just their immediate supervisors but all branches of government, including the court system and law enforcement officials. In some cases, fear of sabotage produced fitful reactions. During the same week that Pascual was arrested, Ángel Báez, a twenty-one-year-old unemployed telegraph worker, was picked up and accused of stealing re sist or s
three plugs from the telegraph office in Holguín. Without the plugs, there was no service. The Rural Guard responded rather ineffectively. After a day spent in fruitless pursuit of Báez and the plugs, the guardsmen decided to search the office and find new plugs to substitute for the stolen ones. Báez denied any wrongdoing, and before his case could get far, he too was released under the declaration of amnesty. This minor incident reveals the disjuncture between the actual threat and the perceived one. Because he was acknowledged to have “knowledge of telegraphy,” Báez managed to raise the suspicions of the authorities and silence the telegraph office for an entire day. If what he wanted was to disorient and befuddle members of the Rural Guard substituting for telegraph workers, he succeeded.58 In this drama of labor dissent and the subversion of order, knowledge mattered, enabling an unemployed twenty-one-year-old to get the best of state officials. The power of the suggestion that technology, or knowledge of it, can be subversive led to greater vigilance and prosecution, although the attempt at law enforcement was largely inept. This story privileges neither the workers’ triumph nor state domination but instead underscores the stumbles and misapprehensions through which technology acquired meaning.
Interference The deployment of technical expertise in political conflict crossed ideological boundaries, as subsequent events in Kingston suggest. Jamaica’s status as a British colony did not shield it from the wave of labor unrest. Indeed, the hispanophone and anglophone Caribbeans were connected in this crisis, as West Indian workers returning from Cuba, Panama, and Costa Rica without assurance of continuing employment put pressure on domestic labor markets.59 By 1938, this dynamic proved explosive, and Jamaica experienced a series of protests and riots. These had originated as expressions of discontent and frustration by underemployed laborers on a single sugar estate, but they expanded to include episodes of urban violence and the proliferation of strikes and protests throughout the island.60 This moment proved pivotal to the practice of politics and the constitution of a “people” in Jamaica. The process of decolonization accelerated as a result, as ordinary people sought alternatives to British rule and emerging leaders, including Alexander Bustamante and Norman Manley, sought to harness these energies in political parties.61 A counterpoint to the technicians and amateurs in Santiago and Havana, who seemed to triumph by using secret broadcasts and sabotage 82 re sist or s
of machinery to unseat, or at least unsettle, the government, Kingston’s amateur radio operators were more likely to work in the service of the state. Increasingly fluid distinctions between private and state communications technologies shaped the careers of wireless operators in Jamaica. In their aversion or inability to invest in infrastructure, British colonial officials came to depend on private individuals who controlled certain communications technologies to assist them in naval administration.62 Local officials arranged for wireless and telegraph trials to test the equipment on Her Majesty’s ships as they passed through Jamaican waters. In a 1934 letter to the acting governor, the vice admiral requested that “amateur experts” be notified and prepared to conduct tests with passing ships. He set conditions and listed the desired experts by name, beginning with John F. Grinan, whose wireless station was by then widely recognized. Others who were notified included C. L. Isaacs, C. M. Corinaldi, C. M. Lyons, and L. B. Fletcher. The trials were to take place over the course of nine days, the navy had a right to cancel or curtail them, and communications were to be restricted to test messages during this period.63 In another context, these trials might have been run entirely with navy personnel and equipment. That they were not suggests straitened circumstances and a blurring of boundaries between private individuals and equipment and the work of the state. Correspondence from the Jamaican archives documents that these trials took place over the course of at least five years, between 1934 and 1939.64 A close relationship between “amateur experts” and the state proved essential to the perpetration of state violence in the spring and summer of 1938. One year prior to the major episodes of violence in Jamaica (perhaps in response to similar incidents in Trinidad and Barbados), colonial officials had selected and trained several men to assist police communications if necessary. In May 1938, according to a report issued by the Post Office, licensed radio amateurs formed a radio organization that operated eight stations “at strategic points across the island.” These stations, activated at the first signs of unrest, maintained open lines of communication during the worst moments of violence, which frequently included “malicious interference” with telegraph cables. Grinan was called away from his duties receiving signals from ships to the more urgent matter of policing the uprising.65 The documents offer little information regarding the precise workings of Grinan’s crew and, more important, of the rebels’ strategies of interference with cables. But they do commemorate Grinan’s role in the organization and repression, for he was singled out by name in the Post Office report: “I cannot refrain from expressing the Department’s special thanks to Mr John F. Grinan for his invaluable services in this connexion.”66 re sist or s
John Grinan’s broadcasting studio in Kingston, converted to ZQI in 1938. (Photograph courtesy of Jamaica Archives and Records Division)
In the wake of the rebellion, the press deemed John Grinan a hero for his help in its repression. He subsequently sold his radio equipment to the government. After years of resistance from the colonial government, Jamaica finally acquired a local broadcasting station, ZQI.67 The Daily Gleaner’s historical account of Jamaican broadcasting remembers Grinan as the “father of broadcasting” who donated his equipment so that Jamaica could at last fall in step with contemporary broadcasting practices. This triumphal narrative obscures a less harmonious story that also emerges from the records, in which the station’s founding was facilitated by a scavenging colonial state and its reliance on radio amateurs with the ability to use technology as an instrument of violence.68
War and Shortwave Spies By World War II, U.S. officials worried constantly about the presence of Nazi spies in the Caribbean. After 1940, with the Vichy occupation of Guadeloupe and Martinique and increased U-boat activity in the region, protecting the Panama Canal and the region in general drew U.S. attention to the activities of Germans residing in Cuba and Haiti.69 Since the principal currency of spies was information, either secretly transmitted or broadcast as propaganda, people with knowledge of or access to communications 84 re sist ors
ZQI broadcasting station logo.
technologies were considered suspect. Because shortwave transmitters and receivers were considerably more complex than telegraph or telephone equipment, authorities often found them utterly mystifying. In a wartime context, policing meant resisting real and imagined sonic transgressions by the enemy. On October 3, 1941, Domingo Gordin, a fireman living in Santiago de Cuba, was arrested on grounds that he was using his amateur radio equipment to conduct communications with fascist sympathizers in foreign countries. Prompted by a police accusation, a court official entered and searched his house. With him were two experts, the region’s radio inspector, Rafael Miranda Sablón, and a sergeant from the Cuban Army’s Signal Corps, both of whom would presumably assist in recognizing equipment capable of the alleged transmissions. After completing their search of Gordin’s house and equipment, the court official declared that they had found and seized a fifty-watt transmitter “ready to communicate with foreign countries.”70 Gordin’s lawyer submitted a defense stating that the station was licensed and therefore legal and that Gordin neither knew foreign languages nor was a Nazi sympathizer. He also dismissed the notion that there might be military secrets to communicate from Santiago. In any case, he argued, any untoward communication would have been intercepted by either the Americans or nearby British colonial possessions, and there was no record at all of any such activity.71 Gordin also submitted a statement claiming that he had a license and that he only used the station to communicate with other radio aficionados in Cuba.72 Ernesto Amado Acosta, the police chief whose suspicions led to Gordin’s arrest was likely acting in response to an atmosphere of increased alarm about spies and their use of radio. There is no record of what might have prompted the initial accusation, but perhaps merely owning a station re sist or s
sufficed. The possibility of Gordin’s using it for nefarious purposes was enough to warrant an arrest.73 That the investigator brought two “experts” with him speaks to his assumptions about the significance of the equipment itself. But it also testifies to the police chief’s inability to discern whether the equipment was indeed “dangerous.” Gordin and his lawyer did not deny the importance of the equipment. Instead, they tried to disprove the accusation of Gordin’s participation in illicit practices. The fact that his radio was not powerful enough to send signals over sufficiently long distances would not emerge until much later in the case. Initially, the “experts” remained silent and supported the police chief’s statement. Meanwhile, the police chief ordered a second person arrested, a German named Rodolfo Stohl. He seemed to pose a much greater threat, as the remainder of the case file focuses mostly on his past and background. Stohl was a radio engineer who arrived in Cuba in 1928, found work at a Philips store in Havana, and then ended up in Santiago, where, pretending to be Dutch, he opened a radio repair shop.74 The documentation is not very clear on Stohl’s whereabouts when the war broke out. He attested to traveling to Havana, losing his passport and identification card, and then returning to Santiago. Both the police and Stohl himself asserted that he had befriended radio amateurs as well as the director of the radio station CMQ in Santiago. The court requested several investigations of Stohl, and while they are somewhat contradictory, they all agree that he was a very skilled radio repairman and operator. On that assertion, those who seemed to be intent on convicting him built rumors and allegations. The Santiago police, including the chief and a lieutenant, claimed to have amassed evidence that Stohl was involved in spying and other suspicious activities.75 When Stohl had returned to Santiago, they argued, he had visited a local radio station and boasted about plans to build two stations, forty kilometers apart, with another German friend. He had, according to the police chief, passed around pictures of himself in a German army uniform. Moreover, he had asked to spend the night at the station, claiming that he did not have anywhere else to go. The director testified that he had feared Stohl would use his considerable skills to convert the equipment from longwave to shortwave in the middle of the night and communicate illicitly with foreign countries. Taken together, three characteristics made Stohl a dubious character: he was German, he knew a lot about radio, and he was a vagrant, a rather gregarious one whose acquaintances were vulnerable to conversion to treacherous activities. These combined qualities, following police logic, confirmed his identity as a clandestine radio spy. Stohl met the requirements to play a 86 re sist or s
part in a techno-dystopia of treason and betrayal. Police arrested him and tried to build a case against both Stohl and Gordin, accusing them of sharing an intention to communicate with enemy nations. After Stohl’s arrest, the court requested testimony from a number of other investigators, including José Portuondo, an agent with the secret police, and Jaime Roldos Arché, a special investigator with the judicial police in Havana. Against Juan Rosales of the Santiago police, who insisted that both men were involved in espionage and communications with Nazi sympathizers, the two specialists refuted these allegations. Portuondo claimed that the station was properly licensed, that Gordin was not a Nazi sympathizer, and, most important, that the equipment could not send or receive messages from foreign countries.76 Roldos, more focused on Stohl, listed numerous arrests and convictions for robbery and agreed that Stohl had a great deal of technical ability, but he expressed skepticism about any involvement in espionage activities with Gordin or anyone else.77 In the end, Gordin’s defense rested on two main points: that he was a man of “scanty intelligence” with no knowledge of foreign languages and that his equipment could not communicate overseas. One wonders why it took so much testimony and so many experts to establish this key point. Most of the authorities were at a disadvantage, it seemed, because they themselves were unable to verify whether their suspects had the proper training and whether the equipment could in fact transmit messages over long distances. Both men were released from jail once it became evident that the case rested on flimsy foundations and more anxiety than information. The accusers, witnesses, and law enforcement shared a story about sound as a protagonist in a tale of subversion and resistance. In question was the degree of technical facility with the equipment under scrutiny. From the perspective of law enforcement officials, the machines themselves resisted being understood. The case against the two men fell apart as officials haltingly expanded their rudimentary understanding of radio technology. Gordin may have resumed his amateur radio activities, Stohl likely continued to roam, stealing here and fixing radios there, and the police detectives were left to search for another victim through whom they might earn the approval of their superiors in the campaign against Nazi sympathizers and spies. During World War II, the Caribbean’s location between the United States and Europe made it the subject of increased attention and generated speculation about the extent of covert wartime activities on the islands. U.S. officials worried about ties to French and German groups and imagined the Caribbean as a launching point for attacks and intelligence gathering. re sist or s
They worried less about spies in Haiti and more about German financial power and influence and propaganda there. On October 16, 1940, Edward Sparks, the interim chargé d’affaires at the U.S. consulate in Haiti, wrote to the secretary of state in a confidential memo. In it he listed the suspected activities of fascist, Nazi, communist, and Japanese threats. These included supporting refugees (some of whom were thought to be Nazis) and giving them Haitian passports, publishing a Nazi propaganda newspaper, and “distributing small sums of money among the poorer class of Haitians to spread Nazi propaganda.” In addition, foreigners had financed the Bata Shoe factory and received a concession to run an electric light company. Most important, the German minister was thought to influence President Sténio Vincent and other government officials.78 Another official, Kenly Bacon, argued that all of these activities amounted to grounds for apprehension: “The cooperation of certain Haitian Government officials with the Nazis must be viewed with alarm, as the influence and infiltration of Germans throughout Haiti seem to be steadily increasing.”79 Other officials were more sanguine about the German presence. They did not pressure the Haitian government to eliminate the businesses of the Bata Shoe Company or the electric light concession, noting that “these may be a legitimate effort to invest refugee capital in Haiti.” In the end Sparks struck a conciliatory note: “While it is reasonable to assume that the Nazis are engaged in various activities inimical to the interests of this country and the United States, the conclusion should not be drawn that the Haitian Government is knowingly facilitating or abetting activities.” For Sparks, Haitian leaders were merely venal and easily bribed.80 By contrast, a European-funded proposal to build Radio Haïti met with much more resistance and ultimately failed. “This is one question on which we have made our position clear,” wrote Kenly Bacon, “and it is unlikely that any serious effort will now be made by the Haitian Government to revive the enterprise.” U.S. pressure to suspend the Radio Haïti concession was born of doubts about the sources of funding and the purpose of the proposed station. U.S. officials regarded it, since its inception, “with much suspicion.” Though the proposal to fund a station came from unoccupied France, the United States nonetheless considered it “very probable” that “Germans were financing the operation.”81 After purchase, the necessary equipment stayed in a warehouse for years, as the State Department and businessmen occasionally raised the question of its whereabouts and potential as an instrument for ongoing communications needs. Despite their attention to other activities, U.S. officials and the Port-auPrince police remained aware of the kind of havoc wrought by clandestine 88 re sist or s
stations in Cuba and remained on the lookout for any sign of them in Haiti. In a 1940 report to the secretary of state, Ferdinand Mayer of the American Legation in Port-au-Prince noted that Wilhelm Lemke, a known Nazi, was suspected of operating a radio transmitting station from his small cottage in the mountains outside of Port-au-Prince. The evidence was inconclusive, and Mayer admitted that the allegation may have been a rumor begun by Haitians trying to discredit Lemke. But that mere ownership of a transmitting station prompted such allegations indicates that radio was seen as an undeniable sign of subversive or transgressive intentions.82 Worries about foreign clandestine radios as subversive elements may have blinded U.S. officials to the presence of home-grown agitators. In January 1941, Sparks sent the secretary of state in Washington, D.C., the following report: I have the honor to report that five young Haitians were arrested on January 11 by the Haitian police charged with operating a radio transmitting station in Petionville which had broadcast propaganda directed against President Vincent and the Haitian Government. Those arrested include Jean Wiener, an employee of the Electric Light Company; René Moravia, an employee of the Haitian Government Radio Station; Ernest Woolley, a chauffeur; Augustine William, a young mechanic and radio repair man; and Emile Chancy, engineer and former employee of the Haitian Public Works Department.83 The letter went on to report that the men were in jail and faced court- martial, accused of sending out propaganda violently critical of President Vincent. The size, demographics, or location of the imagined public is not clear in the records, nor is any evidence regarding the frequency or effect of these broadcasts. But the record does tell us that each of these men had knowledge of cars, radios, and electricity—the technologies of mobility that allowed people and voices to travel or illuminate dark nights. In this instance, they used them to send their subversive voices into the ether.84
New Frictions Inserting the wires and machines that transmitted sound electronically into narratives about anti-imperialism, labor dissent, and ideological subversion adds traction to stories of resistance. Across the region, the presence of these technologies generated new actors and facilitated shifting power dynamics. In the case of occupied Haiti, broadcasting proved a paltry defense against the noise of the place and produced a hostile re sist or s
reaction, initially. Yet it became part of a repertoire of subversion in the postoccupation context. In some ways, new media brought on new vulnerabilities. In Havana, Santiago, and Kingston, the efforts of workers or strikers were thwarted by the state’s effective control of communications, as when it imposed censorship or surveillance of telephone lines; but the state could just as easily lose control of a situation when deprived of the same tools of communication. Someone with technical knowledge could put that expertise to work in the service of an ideal of their choosing. Mere employees, who in other contexts had little leverage, could now hold their companies or an entire city hostage. By the same token, radio technicians who developed a political agenda or were drafted into a movement could pose a much greater threat to their perceived enemies than ever before. Power emanated not from a monopoly on legitimate violence, or from the mobilized “masses” but rather from access to and, crucially, knowledge of machines that could talk. This suggests the need to rethink models of power that depend solely on “top-down” or popular notions of political change. Taking technology into account means conceiving of a reorganized political space in which access to either force or popular support may not tell the whole story. The new threat posed by technicians brought heightened surveillance. But that surveillance was often flawed and faltering. In the end, what grew was perhaps the dependence on technology, and the vulnerability that accompanied such dependence. Electronic sound became a weapon in political struggles, and some wielded it more deftly than others. But it was indispensable to all participants, who could no longer imagine not using sonic technologies. Even as their conflicts escalated, violently opposed groups came to share assumptions about the advantages of having a tinkerer on their side.
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In a poem titled “Boo,” Jamaican writer and performer ouise Bennett describes the plight of a newly elected politician, who L wants to know why people have been booing him: “Wen ah pass some people now-a-days / Wha meck dem halla ‘boo.’ ” He takes refuge in his home and turns on the radio in search of answers or distraction. But he only gets further confirmation of his unpopularity: “Hear deh, hear de radio sey ‘boo.’ ” Angry, he asks for his gun, in order to “blow dis radio in two!” Why should it, he asks, be allowed to enter his own house “an tell me ‘boo.’ ” In this, as in dozens of poems, stories, and songs, Bennett mingles a precise ear, sharp political commentary, and a fine-grained ethnographic sense of the everyday. By the end of a full life and multifaceted career as stage, radio, and television actor, as well as a writer, social scientist, and collector of folktales, she had received the Jamaican order of merit and was recognized as an icon of Jamaican culture. When this poem was published in the 1960s, however, Bennett’s words, and the poem itself, brushed against the prickly issues of suffrage, language, technology, and listening in the public sphere.1 This chapter unravels and then reassembles the entangled themes of “Boo.” In attending to this poem’s detail of a radio booing a politician, I open up the stories of radio and broadcasting to broader themes of voice, decolonization, and democratization in the Caribbean.2 Both Jamaica and Haiti experienced political transformations in the 1940s after the U.S. Marines left Haiti and the colonial state waned in Jamaica. As each place navigated the vagaries of nation-building and expanded political participation, debates about the propriety and place of creole languages in emerging mediated public spheres echoed one another.3 These debates coincided with the proliferation of radios and the intensification of broadcasting. The pages that follow ask how and why radios came to speak in the creole languages of 1940s and 1950s Jamaica and Haiti. Media and creole languages sometimes overlapped and other times were understood as incompatible. I trace the eruptions of spoken sonic blackness 91
into broadcasting and argue that those tones and registers rescued the medium from irrelevance. In Jamaica, the political parties that emerged following the 1938 uprisings reshaped the populace’s relationship to the colonial government. Social reformers and the colonial state cast new attention on what they deemed to be “social problems.” The Moyne Commission was created in order to report on the circumstances that might have caused labor unrest, and the Colonial Social Welfare Fund was established in order to mitigate or alleviate perceived social difficulties. At the same time, Jamaican elites began to push for greater autonomy and succeeded in rewriting the constitution, enacting universal manhood suffrage by 1944, and moving a political consensus toward some form of autonomous government—a consensus that would eventually propel Jamaica toward independence in 1962.4 In Haiti, the end of the U.S. occupation set the political stage for Haitian control. The period between 1934 and François Duvalier’s ascent to power in 1957 witnessed the entrance of many different constituencies onto a plural and contested political scene. As Matthew Smith has argued, that interval was characterized by “the establishment of a popular labor movement, the rise of political parties, a bitter and vibrant ideological struggle, and a shift toward an assertive brand of black nationalism, noirisme.”5 Voice was crucial to these processes. Historians and political scientists have used the notion of voice to point to the exercise of suffrage and demands for participation in political decision making. Voice in these contexts refers to the expression of points of view or opinions, by either individuals or groups, that is intended to have some impact on political processes.6 Rarely, however, does this scholarship intersect with approaches to voice preoccupied with what Roland Barthes has termed “the grain of the voice.”7 Understanding voices in their material as well as metaphorical dimensions—and as emitting from bodies marked by gender, race, age, and class—adds a crucial register, particularly in postcolonial settings. In the entry of plural voices into the political and public spheres, what those voices sounded like mattered a great deal. Within the voice reside paradoxes that invite consideration. Voices are always embodied, even when they are mediated and seem to be separated from their source. The voice is both of the body and outside the body, generating connection and relationality. Moreover, as Adriana Cavarero points out, it always emanates from a unique being. This suggestion of plurality, of the existence of multiple, unique voices, leads, she argues, from “ontology to politics.”8 Thus one of the arguments of this chapter is about 92 v oice
the ways that the presence of a plurality of voices—and their emanation from gendered and raced bodies—stretched the possibilities of politics, if part of what constitutes politics is the participation of different kinds of bodies and voices in what Ana Ochoa calls the aural public sphere.9 In Jamaica and Haiti, the languages in which voices spoke also mattered. When writing about creole languages, intellectuals in both places anticipated current scholarship on the nature of voice.10 Jamaican scholar Kamau Brathwaite urged his readers to listen to voices rather than words, to think about sound as that which is both excessive and constitutive of meaning: “But in its contours, its rhythm and timbre, its sound explosions, it is not English, even though the words, as you hear them, might be English to a greater or lesser degree.”11 Both Brathwaite and Haitian writer Jean Price-Mars foreshadowed Mladen Dolar’s attention to accent, intonation, and timbre as essential to meaning. For Price-Mars, writing about Kreyòl, it was “the inflection of the voice itself,” and the way the “image bursts forth in the simple repetition of analogous sounds, which, in creating onomatopoeia, accentuate the musicality of the idiom” that lent this “resonant instrument” its power.12 As Brathwaite also observed, “the noise that it makes is part of the meaning, and if you ignore the noise (or what you would think of as noise, shall I say) then you lose part of the meaning.”13 Sound, voice, language, and race created one another in complex ways. Both Brathwaite and Price-Mars inserted the question of language into their considerations of the alignment of sound, voice, and race. For them, creole languages were resources for decolonization. In his Ainsi parla l’oncle, a restitution of the autochthonous in Haitian culture, Price-Mars argued for the power of stories and the spoken word. Creole language was “the only instrument . . . for expressing our mutual thoughts; a primitive instrument in many respects but possessing a priceless sonority and delicacy of touch.” Arguing that “written Creole loses half the flavor of the spoken language,” he cited the sound of Kreyòl as that which might provide cultural coherence over time and space, and which might prove redemptive to a people undone by ethnic and class stratification.14 In History of the Voice, Brathwaite coined the term nation language as an alternative to the terms patois and creole and endeavored to create a canon of poets writing in nation language as a way to fill a void in cultural production: “I cannot really refer you to Authorities because there aren’t any,” he wrote. “One of our urgent tasks now is to try to create our own Authorities.”15 Even as these writers privileged creole language as a source of cultural power, they refused facile categorizations of creole as “tradition” fighting incursions of technology. Indeed, Brathwaite, again anticipating v oice
contemporary critics, used History of the Voice to perform the constitutive relationship between blackness, sound, and technology that Alexander Weheliye argued for in his Phonographies.16 Using a record player and tape recorder to flood a lecture hall with the voices of poets reading their words, he put sound at the heart of the matter: “Which is again why I have a tape recorder for this presentation. I want you to get the sound of it, rather than the sight of it.”17 In History of the Voice, Brathwaite conceded his inability to adequately reproduce the significance of Bennett’s performances in print. Similarly, Rex Nettleford described Louise Bennett as a “poet of utterance.”18 If this chapter were a talk, I would follow Brathwaite and play a recording of one of Bennett’s many performances. It would confirm the meaning that lay in Bennett’s skillful use of pitch, the laughter burbling between words, and the sometimes long silences between words, alternating with an onslaught of Creole words strung together to get to the main point. Listeners might note the ways she slides between varieties of English and Jamaican Creole, at each stop embodying a woman of distinct social status and political perspective. The comic timing, shifts between languages, and throaty warmth allow a listener a sense of intimacy and absurdity, as if letting us in on a joke. Listening our way through this chapter would entail hearing Haitian actor Théodore Beaubrun as “Languichatte,” British and West Indian readers reading poetry by Derek Walcott and Sam Selvon, and Haitian actors including Théophile Salnave conversing in Kreyòl about World War II commissioned as part of a U.S.-sponsored program intended to educate Haitian peasants about the war. It would include the voice of Daniel Fignolé, the Haitian politician remembered as having a brilliant capacity to invent Kreyòl words in the middle of speeches and to move large crowds by uttering a few of those words. The recordings would, in their range of tones, timbres, rhythms, accents, and languages, reveal the variety of voices available to radio listeners in the early 1940s. Beaubrun’s assured timing and staccato enunciations would sound against the BBC’s portentous, slow, measured renditions of poems composed with audiences scattered from St. Lucia to Brixton in mind and read in lofty British English. Listening to the grain of all of these voices would collectively point to an evolving politics of language.19 Political projects variably colonial, decolonizing, or neocolonial staked out some of their claims through the sound of people’s voices, the language they spoke in, and their presence or absence on the radio. These voices, and others, spoke at the conjuncture of several processes. The expansion of social sciences dedicated to the study of the “folk,” the 94 v oice
politicization of creole and creole theater, the utilization of sonic blackness within the Atlantic in the service of both nationalist and imperial political projects, and the extension of broadcasting and listening publics converged in the midcentury Caribbean. This chapter is arranged as an excursion through them in an effort to understand the comparative and connected histories of the fraught politics of creoles and their relationship to broadcast media. Bennett’s trajectory intersects with each of these processes, so her career anchors the chapter, which also considers refrains and dialogues from Haiti.20
The Folk As an object of study, the “folk” preoccupied intellectuals in both Haiti and Jamaica of the late 1930s. The social scientific research sponsored by the Colonial Development and Welfare Office in the wake of the 1938 strikes and protests was grounded in the premise that “an understanding of ‘native culture’ and social life would facilitate colonial rule and, more immediately, probe the causes of unrest.”21 This inspired both foreign and local social scientists to take up the Jamaican peasantry, and in particular family life, as its object of study. With support from the recently founded Institute for Social and Economic Research and the journal Social and Economic Studies, an early generation of anthropologists and sociologists worked toward a critique of colonial narratives of the peasantry as disorganized, unstable, and unproductive. Their emphasis on social structures and efforts to render the choices of peasants as rational given their circumstances left little room for discussion of spirituality or rituals of celebration or healing, many of which were understood to have African origins. Despite their attention to education, these social scientists did not consider the relevance of creole languages, leaving the study of language and idioms to linguists. In effect, the presence of Jamaican Creole was an uncomfortable truth for well-meaning social reformers and social scientists, intent on proving that the peasantry ought to be understood as rational, capable, and poised to come into its own as a productive citizenry. This first cohort of social critics, never terribly interested in language or folklore, gave way to a subsequent wave of Marxist economists, whose explanations and prescriptions for empowering the Jamaican peasantry also marginalized the problem of language or the relevance of stories, songs, and rituals.22 Bennett stepped into this context with an oppositional gesture. Throughout her life she continued folklore-collecting habits she had developed as a young woman. She had been raised to speak according to middle-class v oice
Jamaican expectations, but patois was always there, through the voices of her seamstress mother’s clients, most of them market women: “The fish lady, the higgler lady, the lady that sell coffee.” Despite or perhaps because speaking like them was forbidden, she developed a fascination with their language. In an interview conducted with Mary Jane Hewitt, she recalled her attraction to the sounds of her mother’s birthplace in St. Mary’s parish. It served as a laboratory, “rich in folklore,” and led her to begin collecting “folksongs, stories, and things.” Initially under the auspices of a British Council scholarship, and later as a young professional—as island supervisor for the Women’s Federation as well as drama officer for the Jamaica Social Welfare Commission—she traveled throughout rural Jamaica and spoke to people, listened to them, and wrote down what she heard.23 She recalled that she intended to challenge social scientists whose notion of “those people” seemed misguided. Instead, she located herself within a “we” and her work as a collector of folklore within a project to recuperate an absent history and “give it a status, the place that it should have,” countering the common shame of anything “that came out of slavery, or came from the black masses.” She understood her expeditions into rural Jamaica to gather stories, epigrams, and songs as part of this broader effort to comprehend “90% of Jamaica’s population.”24 Her material simultaneously served her interests as a social scientist and her needs as a performer and writer. Yet her approach to the study of language and the ways it was embedded in cultural practices and popular narratives remained peripheral in a Jamaican social scientific context predominantly concerned with economic uplift, social structures, and education in English. In Haiti, rather than working alongside state interests, social scientists situated themselves in opposition to the U.S. occupation. Intellectuals searched for alternate authenticities in response to discontent with both craven elites and occupying forces. The interest in understanding the “folk” and African components of Haitian culture emerged in this environment and alongside the literary movement. As many have observed, it was Jean Price-Mars who insisted on privileging the African origins of Haitian culture in nationalist claims and whose work set a research agenda for other Haitian and American scholars. Since his critique was aimed at the Haitian elite, it was less concerned with proving Haitian peasants’ “rationality.” Rather than being considered peripheral to their concerns, the study of language grew out of and was central to this approach. Several journals engaged this preoccupation with authenticity, including La Revue Indigène (1931) and Les Griots (1938), whose contributors included Lorimer Denis and François Duvalier.25 Two Haitian scholars, Jules Faine 96 v oice
and Suzanne Sylvain, focused specifically on Haitian Kreyòl and published books in 1936 and 1937, respectively. The products of their labor in Parisian universities, the books drew on current linguistic and philological theory to reach opposing conclusions about the nature of Haitian Kreyòl. Their disagreement was over the degree of African influence in the language. Sylvain argued that Kreyòl was inflected with African languages, while Faine drew parallels to French dialects and denied any influence of African languages.26 The debate about language formed part of broader conversations aimed less at reform and more at cultural redemption and restoration. The status of Kreyòl was integrated into broader institutional efforts. Haitian novelist and journalist Jacques Roumain was also among the proponents of the folk. Against a backdrop of an intensifying anti-vodou campaign headed by the Catholic Church, Roumain wrote in defense of non-Catholic spirituality and ritual practices. In an effort to neutralize his radical critiques, President Elie Lescot named him director of the newly inaugurated Bureau d’Ethnologie de la République d’Haïti, founded at the same time but with a more conservational function than Price-Mars’s educationally minded Institut d’Ethnologie.27 Among those hired by the new institute was Suzanne Sylvain, enlisted to teach a course on linguistics in the summer sessions.28 Kate Ramsey has traced the ways Roumain’s version of noirisme eventually clashed with proponents of other iterations, including those of Denis and Duvalier, whom Roumain perceived as cynical manipulators of racial idioms.29 Yet they all understood the significance of Kreyòl. Despite ideological and methodological quarrels, the debate over noirisme acknowledged Kreyòl as key, perhaps as a way to claim it back from the U.S. occupying forces, which had recognized its power and made efforts to deploy it strategically. Kreyòl took on an unprecedented legitimacy in this context. No longer solely imagined as the language of “the people,” it had become an object of study, a stake in political struggles, and an indicator of authenticity. The effort to avoid more social unrest in the case of Jamaica, or to build an anti-imperialist consensus in the case of Haiti, shaped the study of the folk as a social scientific category. The attention to sound here was crucial. As much as the traditional markers of race, social status, and geography, the category of the folk came into being through language. The sound of it, in Brathwaite’s terms, made meaning.30 Haitians and Jamaicans had been speaking creole languages for hundreds of years. The twentieth-century politicization of sonic blackness occurred at the conjunction of the rise of social science and the intensification of nationalist aspirations. v oice
Theater One marker of Kreyòl’s legitimacy was its growing media presence. Radio stations pursued live local music, in part because they could not afford records, and transmitted Kreyòl through songs. The Haitian group Jazz des Jeunes, the creators of what Gage Averill has called vodou-jazz, began to receive airtime. According to Averill, the group’s use of Kreyòl lyrics appealed to black middle classes also searching for an authenticity with anti-imperialist undertones.31 Radio did not lead this shift in the soundscape but rather followed. Broadcasting must be inserted into a context already loud with creole languages, and full of drama. The radio did not create a creole listening public, but it did draw from one generated by the vibrant theatrical tradition, which by some accounts had existed since the colonial era.32 In Port-auPrince, Cap Haïtien, and Kingston, the plays contributed to a public milieu in which the news, gossip, and politics of the day were exposed, debated, and pitched before audiences both literate and not. In eighteenth-century colonial Saint-Domingue, French colonists produced plays in Cap Haïtien and Saint-Marc, in Kreyòl, using some slaves as actors. According to Félix Morriseau-Leroy, the practice disappeared from view and reappeared occasionally in the early nineteenth century. The U.S. occupation, however, animated a more lively theatrical practice in both French and Kreyòl. These plays were often historical, recreating the heroic narratives of the war of independence, and reminding Haitian audiences of the accomplishments of Toussaint Louverture and others who had participated in the H aitian Revolution. The use of Kreyòl brought politics explicitly to the stage, reproducing conflicts between Americans and Haitians, as in the play Les cacos en caci.33 During the occupation, theater troupes such as La Renaissance toured the countryside in an effort, according to Robert Cornevin, to nurture growing links between nationalists and anti-imperialists.34 In the years after the occupation, Kreyòl theater took on momentum. Haitian authors including Morriseau-Leroy, Franck Fouche, and Michel Lamartinière-Honorat recognized and insisted on the significance of writing and performing in Kreyòl. At the same time, they inhabited a troubled relationship to the language spoken by the majority of Haitians and disparaged in elite and official circles. In an essay published in 1954, Morriseau-Leroy acknowledged tensions as they unfolded before him. He noted that ironically it had been the U.S. occupation that promoted Kreyòl and tried to extinguish French, forcing elites to choose between English and Kreyòl, which many of them disdained to speak in public. Some 98 v oice
playwrights sought refuge in historical theater and wrote in French. Others dabbled in Kreyòl to demonstrate their loyalty to the “folk” but then retreated to the comfort of urban French. Some, like Jacques Roumain, wrote diglossic texts that “aimed to preserve the universality of one and the vigor of the other.”35 Despite the tensions, this generation understood that it was crucial to continue to write and perform in Kreyòl, in pursuit of cultural authenticity at the heart of literary interest in the language. Radio and drama drew on each other’s capacities for creating audiences. A listener tuning the dial in Port-au-Prince sometime in 1941 might have heard the early radio sketches of Théodore Beaubrun, whose character Languichatte would become a widely recognized fixture of Haitian radio. Beaubrun’s sketches, in Kreyòl, satirized Haitian mores, and by all accounts he delighted Port-au-Prince listeners with his “exuberant, rapid fire delivery in Creole which [became] characteristic of his persona.”36 Beaubrun seems to have used the relatively new medium of radio to launch his career, which subsequently engaged other forms of media. He wrote and acted in plays, recorded music, and transposed the character of Languichatte to television and film. The use of Kreyòl might have appealed to Haitian audiences accustomed to hearing mostly French on the radio. Though the radio had spoken in Kreyòl before, Haitians had understood these U.S.-funded educational efforts as clumsy and rejected them. Beaubrun’s voice and his use of Kreyòl on the radio would have pleased Port-au-Prince audiences and facilitated radio’s inclusion in Kreyòl contexts.37 Yet his was a lone voice in the predominantly French-language soundscape of early 1940s Haitian radio. Similarly, Louise Bennett’s work in patois began in the Jamaican theater but ranged across several media. Her first stage appearance in 1936 initiated an early career of performances in “crowded village halls across the island.”38 According to Brathwaite, Bennett danced between linguistic economies—the written and the spoken, English and Jamaican Creole—in the medium of stage performance. Bennett’s ear guided her early performances and writing. She moved from song to spoken word, from spoken to written word, and from listening to recording what she heard. “I was a great mimic,” she recalled in an interview, retroactively explaining the source of the diverse iterations of sonic blackness her work would express. The story of how she began to write is really a story of listening. Boarding a bus as a teenager, she encountered two market women at the back of the bus, loath to give up their space to a young middle-class girl. Bennett’s poem “On a Tram Car” quotes one of those women, trying to ensure that the space she had claimed would remain hers: v oice
Pread out yuhself deh Liza, one Dress-oman dah look like she She see di space side-a we And waan foce herself een deh. [Spread out yourself there Liza, that well-dressed woman is acting like She sees the little space on the side of us And wants to force herself in there.]39 The voice and perspective of Bennett’s first published poem was not her own but rather that of one of the market women she had been listening to for years.40 Her account of her own growing popularity in her early career speaks to the flow of language across media and social settings. After the publication of her poems in the Daily Gleaner, people began to read them out loud and in some cases create skits based on them. She received letters requesting her assistance and began to travel to villages throughout the island helping people stage plays based on her poems and stories. In those settings she collected more songs and stories that served as raw material for subsequent work.41 By the time her poems and theater sketches arrived on the radio, Jamaican listeners were attuned to her particular use of nation language.
Empire Shifting imperial relationships also modulated the tone and reach of sonic blackness. While sonic blackness could be construed as anticolonial, the sound of empire is capacious, and as political projects, creole languages and the technologies of governance could coincide as much as they collided.42 After the U.S. government ended its military presence in Haiti, American organizations such as the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (OCIAA) continued to shape Haitian media. Founded in 1940 under the aegis of the Good Neighbor Program and run by Nelson Rockefeller, the OCIAA’s intended purpose was to improve U.S.– Latin American relations through cultural exchanges.43 The success of early Kreyòl broadcasters like Beaubrun suggested that despite a fraught history, Kreyòl programming might be harnessed to OCIAA purposes during the war. In 1942 the OCIAA’s Cap Haïtien Committee on Haitian American Rapprochement discussed and decided to begin broadcasting a program designed to appeal to the “Haitian lower classes.” Titled Le quart d’heure de Frère Hiss, the program would feature conversations 100 v oice
between two fictional characters, “Frère Hiss,” a peasant, and Maître Jasmine, an urban intellectual. Once a week they would discuss news of the war in Europe and its implications for daily life.44 This Haitian Kreyòl program, broadcast on HH3W, apparently met with great success. Subsequent reports from the committee over the next few years noted the show’s popularity. They include letters received from listeners, photographs of groups of Haitians gathered in barber shops and cantinas to listen, and in the most resounding (if somewhat self-serving) endorsement, a letter from Théophile Salnave, the renowned radio personality and voice of “Frère Hiss,” commenting on the program’s success. According to him, it was clearly heard as far north as Port-de-Paix. He also claimed that “between four and five hundred peasants are reached through one radio only.” In an attempt to verify these claims, the secretary of the local committee took it upon himself to “cruise through the downtown area of the city several Saturdays during the broadcast.” He found that, indeed, “three quarters of the operating sets were tuned to the program.” In addition, he found that “in places where the radio was in a store, and easily heard from the street, there were small groups of five to ten people stopped and listening in.”45 But this success eventually confronted the limits of technology. Plagued by continuing unevenness in distribution of receivers, the program was discontinued after two years on the air. The committee planned to change media and use a sound truck (reminiscent of the Jamaican sound system) instead: “This program, successful as it was, was handicapped by the absence of radio receiving equipment among the class it was primarily designed to reach. With the recorder it will be possible for us to transcribe the series of programs in creole and which will be played all over Haiti on a turntable mounted on our sound truck. . . . we intend to devote several programs to problems on health and sanitation.”46 The switch to the use of a sound truck is further evidence of the efforts of those controlling media to insert technologies into already existing circuits of talk and information. The sound truck would avoid problems of reception (notoriously bad in Haiti around the rainy seasons from April to November) as well as the lack of receivers. It would roam the narrow streets and hillsides creating a soundscape as it traveled. An ongoing imperial presence subsidized, even if it did not dictate, this episode in Kreyòl media. Produced by an office of the U.S. government, reliant on Haitian writers and actors, and relayed on Haitian commercial radio, the Kreyòl program aimed to enhance neighborly relations between the United States and Haiti by offering news and commentary on the war in Europe. If earlier U.S. efforts to mine language v oice
as a resource in the service of power were utter failures, this one seems to have been more successful, perhaps because of its hybrid nature. In the British Caribbean, imperial concerns about language, propriety, and citizenship shaped approaches to broadcasting. In the initial years of World War II, the BBC had made efforts to appeal to West Indians as part of the greater British Empire. An early program produced by Jamaican journalist Una Marson, Calling the West Indies (1941–43), consisted of West Indians serving in the military abroad delivering messages to friends and family at home. The widely remembered Caribbean Voices followed. It ran from 1943 to 1958 and was produced first by Una Marson, then by Henry Swanzy. The program spurred poets and writers in both the West Indies and London to greater productivity and served as the center of a patronage network that sustained many of them. Accounts of Caribbean Voices most often list Derek Walcott, George Lamming, and Sam Selvon among the up-and-coming writers of this milieu. These writers also formed the audience for the program as “aspiring poets and fiction writers [who] would gather around the rediffusion unit” on Sundays to learn whether their poems had been chosen.47 Caribbean Voices aimed to present these writers as part of a broader spectrum of British imperial literary production. Yet both British and Jamaican listeners expected the program’s voices to adhere to the implied standards of British intonation: when Caribbean Voices used Caribbean writers as readers, some Jamaican listeners objected, preferring instead to have their poetry read by “proper English voices.”48 Locally, elites hoped to put radio to work in the service of their reformist agendas. As the expansion of the electorate approached, most agreed, regardless of ideological leaning, that “a certain kind of citizen was to be created, one who would be Caribbean, who would be Creole, who would accept middle class leadership and values, who would wear respectability like a Sunday-best outfit, who would develop a nuclear family, labor in the factory or on the banana and sugar plantations, vote in elections, speak properly and softly, listen to good music . . .”49 If proper speaking and listening would constitute a refashioned citizenry, broadcasting might play a key role by offering unprecedented access to the ears of those most in need of reform. A memo written in October 1938 by the electrical inspector, and intended for submission to the visiting Royal Commission, linked broadcasting directly to biopolitics and governmentality: “Recent local events and more especially events happening at this immediate period, both overseas and local, indicate the desirability, if not indeed the urgent necessity, of government having a means of intimate and direct touch with 102 v oice
all classes of the population, whereby the correct situation may be presented to as large a number of them as possible.”50 The early years of programming by ZQI responded to the concerns of both the colonial government and social reformers. The outcome was a combination of offerings that made the radio the voice of government, with gestures toward inculcating a sense of Jamaica as part of the empire and fostering “indigenous culture.” In addition, local elites like Esther Chapman contributed programming intended for education and uplift. From November 1938 until June 1939, talks by government officials (including the trade commissioner and the materials board), news about the war, and gramophone recordings filled one hour per week.51 Once the broadcasts became daily, they comprised both local and foreign news, cricket scores, and classical music. The weekly schedule featured talks by Chapman (“It Happened Last Week”), banana recipes, and religious broadcasts. Some programs were clearly directed at rural Jamaicans, such as talks on diseases like typhoid fever or diphtheria or farming advice (“How to Feed Cattle”). Others aimed to inculcate a sense of imperial citizenship, like the broadcast of the reading of the proclamation introducing the constitution of 1944. The music was almost exclusively classical, and the poetry league contributed frequently.52 But who was listening? Teasing listening practices out of historical documents yields a few fragments. Taking into account the long-standing silences surrounding many aspects of the lives of non-elite Jamaicans renders this a speculative, if intriguing, exercise. Sources drawn from the Jamaica Social Welfare Commission and Colonial Office records echo the anticlimactic introduction of broadcasting in Jamaica and speak to the distance between the imagined power of broadcasting and radio’s irregular and unpredictable audiences. Numerous obstacles hindered widespread listening to local broadcasts. A 1956 report about broadcasting identified one problem, Jamaica’s terrain: “Before 1947 the listener suffered acutely from the difficulties of obtaining good quality reception in an area subject to severe atmospheric and other interference.”53 Jamaicans lost out in particular both because of “difficult mountainous terrain” and frequent “interference by foreign stations encroaching on the allotted frequencies.”54 Technicians began to address this in the 1950s, but for the first decade or so radio reception seems to have been uncertain and inconsistent. The rural nature of Jamaica’s population also posed an obstacle. According to a study conducted in 1960, people living in the parishes outside of Kingston and St. Andrew made up nearly 75 percent of the population in 1943. By 1960, despite internal migration toward the cities, the v oice
percentage of rural inhabitants remained at about 75 percent.55 The listening practices of people living in rural settings remain obscure, but one might imagine that the social organization of space was less conducive to the kinds of collective listening practices that developed in the early stages of broadcasting in other parts of the Caribbean. In Cuba, for instance, the few receivers available at the initiation of local broadcasting were in public places—cafés or shops open to the street, where pedestrians could gather to listen.56 Although this requires further exploration, the social geography of Jamaica, with its small villages and dwellings spaced far apart in the hills, seems to have made that kind of listening much more difficult.57 Finally, the sheer difficulty of obtaining radio sets proved daunting. D. T. M. Girvan of Jamaica Welfare Ltd. imagined that radios would help his work and tried to obtain inexpensive radio sets to distribute in the villages. The documentation reveals a long series of delays. For six months Girvan tried to persuade the colonial secretary that broadcasting would deliver a vital service. Meanwhile, he searched for manufacturers and vendors of small radio sets. Both efforts proved disappointing. In January 1946, the colonial secretary postponed the project indefinitely, claiming that since “the whole question of broadcasting is at the moment under consideration[,] . . . no speedy action is possible just now.”58 In addition to the infrastructural constraints, the programming was tone-deaf with regard to the interests and desires of most Jamaicans. The classical music, well-meaning instructional talks, and news from distant locales made for dull programming. Moreover, Jamaican radio in the early years remained steadfastly attached to its British accent. After nearly a decade on the air, a small fraction of the programming attended to diverse interests. By 1945, listeners could tune in to the first all-Jamaica music program. Cricket matches took up longer and longer time slots (in fact the only reason broadcasting hours were ever extended was for cricket).59 Though listener surveys are missing for these early years, the programming indicates halting efforts to appeal to the listening tastes of ordinary Jamaicans. By 1946, some evidence points to the increasingly interactive nature of radio, as announcers responded to song requests and announced birthdays on the air.60 Louise Bennett’s trajectory intersected with broadcasting in both London and Kingston, with contrasting outcomes. In 1945, seeking training and credentials, Bennett traveled to London, where she enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, as the only black student and first Jamaican.61 While in London she hosted a BBC program titled Caribbean Carnival. When she returned to Jamaica between 1947 and 1950, the BBC continued to seek her 104 v oice
Louise Bennett conducting first summer school in drama as an extramural teacher at the University of West Indies, 1949. (© The Gleaner; photograph courtesy of William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, McMaster University)
out as a contributor to Caribbean Voices. She does not appear as prominently in the scholarship on that program, but evidence suggests that she was a frequent and popular presence. John Figueroa, who read her poems on the air, included her Jamaican Creole poems, such as “Federation” (“Dear Departed Federation / Referendum murderation / Bounce you in outa space / Hope you fine a restin place”) and “Over London” (“How some a dem a talk yuh / Hooda dead wid laugh me dear”) in the two volumes of poetry based on the program.62 Bennett seems to have generated distinct and contradictory listening publics. Her poems traveled (in written form) from Kingston to London, and from London throughout the British Caribbean (as broadcasts), apparently to great acclaim from BBC listeners. She had already achieved recognition as a stage performer in small theaters throughout the island, and her poetry was published regularly in the Daily Gleaner. In the late 1940s, as ZQI struggled to find an audience and reformers struggled to find radios for that audience, Bennett appeared on the weekly program All Jamaica. Yet her preference for speaking and writing in Jamaican Creole seems to have irritated prominent gatekeepers in Jamaica’s cultural establishment. v oice
When Una Marson decided to include Bennett’s work in an anthology of poetry published in 1950, Esther Chapman dismissed it in a review, noting that she “refuse[d] to ‘join the adulation of Miss Louise Bennett in the field of dialect verse.’ ” Imperial concerns thus shaped responses to Bennett’s work in contradictory ways. At home, reforming elites remained skeptical and ambivalent, even as her popularity in some sectors grew. In London, BBC producers encouraged the expression of “nation language” in efforts to garner loyalty to a waning empire.
Refrains of the Sonic Folk Caribbean languages received a flurry of scholarly attention in the West Indies of the 1950s, as linguists at the University of West Indies began to systematize the study of patois.63 Scholars like Robert Le Page and Frederic Cassidy, both trained as professors of English language and literature, embarked on projects to lexicalize and index the language most Jamaicans spoke. Le Page, British and Oxford-trained, became fascinated with vernacular languages early in his career following his appointment at the University of West Indies. In Jamaica, Le Page met Cassidy, with whom he embarked on a series of studies of Jamaican Creole that culminated in the 1967 publication of the Dictionary of Jamaican English.64 Cassidy was born in Jamaica to a Canadian father and Jamaican mother. The family lived in Jamaica until he was eleven. By the time they moved to Akron, Ohio, he was fluent in both English and Creole. He received a doctorate in linguistics from the University of Michigan, where he contributed to the Early Modern English dictionaries then being elaborated by Charles Fries. As a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin, he taught Middle English, the history of English, and introduction to literature. He returned to Jamaica on a Fulbright fellowship, with a proposal to study Creole (which he referred to as “dialect”). His method was to visit communities and talk to residents, compile lists of words and meanings, and conduct vocabulary surveys. At some point the notion of the sounds of words must have become important, and he started recording words and conversations. This was not an easy task. The gear included a “bulky 40 pound tape recorder, a twenty-five pound converter, and automobile batteries to run the equipment.”65 LePage and Cassidy sought to capture and systematize Creole as part of a broader effort to classify the ways people spoke. In so doing, they intervened in ongoing debates about education and language. In an article published in Caribbean Quarterly in 1955, LePage argued that if most Jamaican 106 v oice
children grew up speaking what he called “Creolese English,” as opposed to “White talk,” struggling to learn “White talk” or “standard English” might be a waste of time for those children, who were likely to exist and work in Creole. Indeed, learning “good English” was as superfluous “as compulsory Latin is for the undergrad who learnt no Latin at school and wishes to read economics and math.”66 Moreover, those children who did learn “good English” were likely to leave their communities: “Turn their backs decisively on their homes . . . hold themselves aloof from parish-pump politics, leave local affairs in the hands of the uneducated and uninhibited demagogue, with disastrous results.”67 LePage called for further research in creating a dictionary of Creole and advocated changes in the syllabus to “fit the needs of the Caribbean rather than of the Home Counties in England.” Language use aligned with social class, and for LePage, it was better to strengthen social distinctions than to blur them. “White talk” and Creole ought to be spoken in appropriate contexts. Against the received wisdom, he argued that it was better to educate people in Creole, so that they might become leaders in their home communities. The debates about what people called patois made their way into the newspapers. In the years just prior to Jamaica’s independence, many of the Gleaner’s readers wrote in with their worries and observations about the question of language. One controversy erupted when a Mr. Newland of the Budget Office deplored the use of patois and the inclusion of Anancy stories in a recently published issue of the Caribbean Reader. Many letters to the editor defended the Anancy stories as part of Jamaicans’ cultural heritage, and they lamented Newland’s ignorance in misidentifying the language: “We have indeed,” wrote one reader, “a sorry pass in these days of national feeling if the education of the young is not to be allowed to include the Anancy stories, one of the outstanding products of our national life. . . . As for the patois, we can only suppose that Mr. Newland has not studied the readers apart from the attractive illustrations. The language is simple, but it is not patois.”68 Objections to Newland’s characterization continued for nearly a month, with several articles published in defense of the readers and their nonuse of patois. Despite the acrimony, Newland and his critics shared the assumption that Creole was not a proper language of education. Not everyone agreed. Journalist and educator Vivien Carrington wrote in 1950 that “our West Indian dialects have an indigenous beauty, and portray faithfully the outlook of the people, their humour, and their love of nature and art: often they suggest improvements in ‘good’ English usage.” Carrington taught English and Latin (as well as music and Spanish) at v oice
Wolmer’s Boys School and Manning High School as well as working for the Daily Gleaner as an editor, writer, and photographer. Despite his credentials, his intervention does not seem to have silenced critics of the use of Jamaican Creole, especially in the classroom. In 1952, the author of a letter to the editor declared, “Every teacher therefore who is worth his salt teaches good English, and discourages this dialect which is making the teaching of English extremely difficult. No one with any experience would advocate the teaching of children in broken English. The most ignorant of our people understand good English spoken simply.”69 Subsequent letters and articles published in the Gleaner listed the drawbacks of a patois-speaking culture. Some observed that migrants had greater difficulty obtaining jobs because of their “broken English.” Reporting from Barbados, an observer wrote that “some migrants were suffering hardship, among those Jamaicans who could not read or write as well as others who could only speak patois.”70 The connection to labor, and the politics of the Jamaica Labour Party, led some politicians to incorporate rather than shun the use of Creole. In the eyes of some observers, this was a manipulative ploy to harness the emotions of working-class people, a task evidently easier in the vernacular. An article about St. Lucia seemed to serve as a cautionary tale for Jamaicans: “To me, it is unusual to hear of political meetings being held in patois. But that’s the only way you can get to the consciousness of widely illiterate St. Lucia. The people speak both English and French patois, but patois is the one in which they think, when they are happy, or when they are angry[;] it is the language of the emotions, and in the present elections appears to be better exploited by the Labour candidates, something which the P.P.P. candidates cannot counter because statistics and figures can never be put over in patois.”71 As independence approached, debates about language continued with reports from the classroom and beyond. Teachers remained divided over how to help their students, but understandings of what patois was had begun to shift. Linguists had realized that it was a distinct language with its own grammar and sentence structures. Still, this did not prevent commentators from ranking patois below “standard English,” understood as “better English.” Rosemary Evans, a teacher, suggested that the problem was not bilingualism itself but rather failings of the educational system: “Every year in Jamaica the School Certificate and G.C.E. results in English are slightly worse. . . . It is pointed out that a Welsh child can speak Welsh at home and yet get good results in English examinations, and that a H aitian child can speak Creole at home and Parisian French in society. ‘Why then,’ 108 v oice
quavers authority, ‘can the Jamaican child not cope with patois and standard English?’ ”72 Language use might indicate class, but instruction mattered as well: “Only a few children from the middle and upper strata of our society are really at home in the use of standard English.”73 In his contribution to the Gleaner debate, Frederic Cassidy both acknowledged the desires to eliminate patois and declared how impossible this would be, since according to him over 90 percent of Jamaicans spoke it. The proper approach, he argued, was to recognize its existence and “preach against the philosophy of ignorance” to which antipatois Jamaicans held.74 His role in these debates was to join linguists at the University of the West Indies and make a concerted effort to map, index, categorize, and listen to the language. His work would, he hoped, legitimize patois as part of a range of English dialects, a field to which he devoted most of his scholarly career.75 Louise Bennett inverted the terms of the debate. As Miss Lou, and referring to her popular character Aunty Roachy, she called into question the categories under discussion: Like my Aunty Roachy seh, she vex anytime she hear people a come style fi wi Jamaican language as “corruption” a di English language. Yu ever hear anyting go so? Aunty Roachy seh she no know weh mek dem no call di English language “corruption” a di Norman French an di Greek an di Latin weh dem seh English “derived from.” Unu hear di word? English “derive” but Jamaica “corrupt.” No, massa, notn no go so. We not “corrupt” an dem’ derive. We derive too. Jamaica derive.76 Here Bennett uses Creole to make deliberate anticolonial arguments about language. Aunty Roachy has no patience for the devaluation of Creole implied by the contrasting terms “derive” and “corrupt.” Contrary to linguistic theory that designated Creole “low” and British English “high,” she insisted on, and vocalized, their equivalence. By using Creole to express her understanding and rejection of linguistic theories about the differential origins of English and Creole, Louise Bennett, via Aunty Roachy, challenges the divisions between high and low culture, between serious intellectual work and comedy, and between reason and emotion. Aunty Roachy offers a reasoned and hilarious appropriation of the terms and ter ennett is able minologies with which Creole and English were compared. B to ventriloquize each perspective, and as she slides from the clipped tones of “English derive but Jamaica corrupt” to the scolding, knowing exasperation of “no massa, notn no go so,” to the final incantation of “derive,” savored and rolled off the tongue, she offers listeners the sound of decolonization.77 v oice
Debates over language in Haiti were also tinged with worries over racial and class stratification. Foreign researchers imagined Haiti as a kind of laboratory in which to pursue the rising interest in creole languages across the region. Writing from a U.S. perspective, Charles Johnson advocated education in Kreyòl for Haitian peasants, and English or French for the elite. According to him this would solve the problem of the peasants’ lack of “acculturation” to French culture and their embeddedness in “Afro-French” culture, which was “looked upon with helpless shame and apology by French Haitians.” It was up to “the anthropologist, the social scientist, and the realistic educator, backed by an urgent government,” he argued, “to translate or transform these traits into national values.”78 This required “reducing Creole to writing” and coming up with appropriate materials so that education would be productive and not divisive.79 In addition to reifying divisions of social class that may or may not have been relevant with regard to language, his somewhat self-serving proposal allowed for the continued presence of American social scientists and projects. From the French perspective, scholars like the Martiniquaise author Elodie Jourdain, author of Le vocabulaire du parler créole de la Martinique (Paris, 1956), made a case for creoles as legitimate but not quite literary languages. Creole was expressive, concrete, musical, and evocative when it came to humor or visual imagery: “The use of creole reaches perfection by virtue of its poetic quality of speaking directly through images and its peculiar humor which is as inimitable as it is untranslatable.”80 But it lacked abstract terms and the capacity to express “all shades of thought and human knowledge,” and if it started to adopt them from French, she wrote, “it will disappear with the progress of education.”81 Both Johnson and Jourdain seemed interested in acknowledging and salvaging their creoles, even as they were intent on creating a hierarchy of languages, with corresponding social groups for whom a particular language was most appropriate. Diverse opinions made the language question increasingly relevant. Journalist Edith Efron drew from contemporary Haitian debates about Kreyòl and French in an article sketching out the ways the languages divided Haitians and the codes each carried. Her 1954 article responded to a lively conversation in Haiti about language, with social scientists, literary figures, and politicians weighing in, and engaged as well with ongoing foreign attempts to shape language policy, such as the UNESCO project that intended to use Kreyòl as the language of instruction in most schools.82 In her view, the existence of two languages had engendered “serious conflict” and social division. Even though all Haitians spoke Kreyòl, it was “black” 110 v oice
and French was “white,” perpetuating the existence of two Haitis. Regardless of their position, language was central to a range of explanations of social and cultural tensions and the persistence of hierarchical dynamics. For all of these authors as well, racial distinctions were constructed in part through sound and language. The debates remained unresolved, as some celebrated Kreyòl and proposed using it as a language of instruction, while others refused to recognize it as a legitimate language and insisted on the use of French or English. Sound and voice became a matter of policy, and their stakes proliferated.
Tumults of Eloquence and Polyglot Radios Language became a focal point in political battles in Haiti after Dumarsais Estimé’s election in 1946. A revolt against Elie Lescot’s U.S.-supported government and a turn to more radical politics had brought Estimé to power. With origins and upbringing in the black peasantry, Estimé supported the black middle class and the labor movement against the mulatto elite, and in so doing altered political soundscapes.83 As in Cuba in the 1930s, radio had participated in mobilizations surrounding Lescot’s departure. An HH3W broadcast announcing his resignation and flight incited widespread celebration and looting. In an effort to control the disorder, some of the rioters also took to the radio and called for a return to peaceful routines of daily life.84 In keeping with efforts to integrate workers into Estimé’s political project, the radical student founders of La Ruche took issues of the journal into popular neighborhoods and read the Kreyòl articles out loud.85 The voice of Daniel Fignolé bolstered sonic and politicized blackness. A union activist, Fignolé had long reached out to and sought to incorporate Haitian workers and peasants into national politics. He voiced a radically democratizing and noiriste stance that drove a massive unionization effort. As president of the Mouvement Ouvrier Paysan, founded in 1945, he incorporated the employees of the Haitian American Sugar Company (HASCO) as well as those of the Bata shoe factory and other urban workers such as dockworkers and barbers. Matthew Smith has noted that Fignolé led “the most organized labor party in Haitian history and the largest mass organization in the pre-Duvalier era” with devotion and charisma.86 Appealing to Haitians in the language most of them spoke remained a priority. Much of Fignolé’s success resulted from his abilities as a fiery public speaker who used the radio as often as possible. Fignolé seems to have been comfortable slipping between French and Kreyòl and had an uncanny knack v oice
for the appropriate time to switch from one to the other.87 His biographer, Carlo Désinor, describes the allure of his voice on the radio: “It menaces. It charms. The people, like duped infants, absorb this new evangelist and his tumult of eloquence that makes them see another vision of the world, of themselves, and of the future.”88 Fignolé’s magnetism derived from his use of language. “Daniel’s Creole was as good as his French,” notes Désinor. “On his lips, our vernacular is a creative laboratory, a source of inexhaustible spirit.”89 If Languichatte and Frère Hiss had relied on humor and education to introduce Kreyòl to radio in acceptable ways, Daniel Fignolé radicalized Kreyòl-speaking radio in his efforts to mobilize large segments of the working population. With his savvy use of both Kreyòl and media, Fignolé generated a politics of sound as part of a broader politics of the popular. More so than Duvalier, who is often credited with strategies of populist appeal but who abandoned them after his election in 1957, Fignolé etched out a particular kind of blackness that included mediated sonic blackness as well. By contrast, Jamaican radio remained aloof from popular audiences. Into the late 1930s and early 1940s, radio was a medium that only reinforced inequalities. Its intended purpose was to accrue more power to the powerful, and its real distribution seems to have resulted more often in people “switching off” than in their paying rapt attention.90 ZQI proved untenable as a government-owned enterprise. In 1949 the colonial government began searching for a way to divest itself of the cost while retaining some control over broadcasting. After considering several proposals, they decided to give the concession to the Jamaica Broadcasting Company, which would operate on a commercial model.91 The government was wary enough to impose a series of conditions on the new owners, including guarantees of free government access for public service announcements and BBC programs, as well as a promise to distribute inexpensive sets and create a series of “listening posts” in communities and in schools, clearly an effort to increase listenership.92 That they needed to impose these conditions implies that Jamaica had not experienced an explosion of listening over the previous decade and that the project of governing through sound remained tenuous. Instead, an audience still needed to be sought out and cultivated. Commercial radio entered the scene when Jamaicans had already incorporated an alternative form of electronic sound into their listening practices. As Norman Stolzoff has shown, the ubiquitous and popular sound systems provided music and shaped forms of sociability as Jamaicans gathered in yards or clearings to listen to recordings produced 112 v oice
by local musicians. Having begun as a gramophone attached to a roaming truck, by the early 1950s the sound system enjoyed widespread popularity.93 In that regard, broadcasting would have to prove itself an appealing alternative to the dancehall culture fostered by sound systems. The records of the Jamaica Social Welfare Commission offer some evidence, albeit scant, regarding the fortunes of the proposed listening posts. By 1952 some communities had received radio sets, accompanied by a measure of fanfare: “Occasion was taken to unveil and open the radio installed by the Broadcasting Company of Jamaica. This was done by Miss Osborne who spoke appropriately and read a message from the broadcasting company which had been sent over the air a few minutes before the beginning of the meeting.”94 At Woods Park and Scott’s Run, listening groups met weekly to listen to particular broadcasts.95 In Trinityville, the radio set installed at the school “often served as entertainment . . . at parent-teachers meetings, agricultural meetings, community association meetings, etc.”96 But some centers never acquired radios at all. In 1952, a member of the Jamaica Agricultural Society lamented the very limited access to broadcasting in rural Jamaica: “Mr Broderick expressed the view that it was unfortunate that more farmers would not have the opportunity of hearing these broadcasts. He felt that the community listening centres should be established more widely and in thickly populated areas where there were no radios. . . . In places like Smithville, Clarendon, no listening set had been allocated.”97 For many rural Jamaicans, listening at home was not a viable option. Ethnographies of rural Jamaica in the 1950s, such as Edith Clarke’s My Mother Who Fathered Me, suggest that the daily rhythms and spatial arrangements in small towns and villages were not necessarily conducive to the regulated, domestic listening imagined by radio programmers, with morning talk shows, afternoon programs for women and children, and evenings devoted to classical music or the news. “If men were employed, they left home early in the morning and spent much of their leisure in the shops or taverns, returning home late in the evening.”98 Women and children tended to be home more, but they spent most of their days outside. In places such as the town of Mocca, with few sources of employment and no land for commercial farming, residents lived mostly from what they could grow on small plots. As these plots tended to be far from their homes, most people spent the majority of their days walking back and forth. Not only were they unlikely to be able to afford radio sets, the rhythms and demands of life would have allowed little time for regular listening. v oice
Moreover, in such places, residents often already had well-developed networks of news and information, and might not have seen the need for what the radio offered. In Sugar Town, “washing of clothes was done at the spring or river. It is done unhurriedly because it is an opportunity for meeting friends or exchanging news.”99 Similarly, Clarke’s observations about Mocca provide a glimpse of dense networks of exchanges of information and entertainment: men “did odd jobs in the yard or sat about gossiping together.”100 Talking was the most efficient way of receiving and sending news. As Lucius Watson noted, recalling the way he learned of an upcoming Alexander Bustamante speech, “Mouth radio is a very hell of a radio.”101 Louise Bennett brought that kind of talk to broadcasting. Some listeners responded badly. Frederic Cassidy noted the distress her voice incited. In a 1959 Gleaner article, he noted, “The fear that standard English might somehow lose its position of prestige and that dialect might supersede it has recently been revived by the use of dialect on the radio. Some seem to feel that children are going to refuse to speak anything but dialect as a result of listening to dialect plays or to poems by Louise Bennett.”102 While he found the notion that dialect would overcome English to be unrealistic, he acknowledged the potent combination of Bennett, Creole, and radio. That year, Bennett had begun performing on a new radio show based largely on the use of—and self-conscious commentary on—Jamaican Creole. The Lou and Ranny Show, costarring the popular pantomime performer Ranny Williams, was a raucous comedy that spoke in many registers in its critique and satire of social class. In addition, references to technology also alluded to debates about language, technology, modernity, and the Jamaican folk. An episode that aired for the one-year anniversary resounds with these concerns. The program is framed by an advertisement—spoken by L ouise Bennett in perfectly enunciated British English—selling J-Tex clothing (“made in Jamaica by Jamaicans”). A second framing is spatial—listeners learn that they are about to travel from Kingston to “a little village where everything is always quiet” and immediately experience the disruption of that quiet with the sounds of Lou and Ranny arguing in a fluid combination of English and Creole. The episode itself centers on a radio and the ways it speaks to audiences. Lou and Ranny are talking about the desirability of the new radios sold at the local store. In the next scene, Ranny is at the store fiddling with one of the new radios. He tunes in to the Jamaican Broadcasting Corporation and a proper English voice pompously reading the news. Suddenly the radio breaks, and Ranny panics and hides. Lou comes in with a friend and, unsuspecting, they too fiddle with the new but 114 v oice
now broken radio. Ranny begins to ventriloquize as Lou spins the dial. In a Spanish accent, he delivers news as if from Latin America. He continues in a drawly American accent and changes again to British English, reporting about cricket. His timing and multiple impersonations speak hilariously to the everyday expectation of radio’s polyglot quality, but his ruse is revealed when he inserts some patois words into the cricket announcer’s sentences. Lou and Ranny are rescued in the end by an American who brings a new radio and promptly tunes it to the “Jamaican teenage dance party,” complete with American music and an ad for Spred Satin paint. In this sketch, Creole is the language of truth and demystification. It knows and shares knowledge of the world and calls out hypocrisy. But it is also clearly out of place in broadcast radio, Lou’s clue that something has gone terribly wrong. In an inversion of the hierarchies of language under construction at that moment, and even though Lou and Ranny are comic, everyone else is more ridiculous than they are. As characters, their relationship to technology is enthusiastic if somewhat skeptical. As authors and performers, this relationship assumes that the radio can be bent to their purposes and that it will generate broad and loyal audiences. As Miss Lou, Louise Bennett drew from a politics of language fraught with implications about class, nationalism, and sonic blackness. Maneuvering the sometimes contravening currents of the search for folk authenticity, the impetus to transform that same folk into a more disciplined workforce, middle-class nationalism, and rural Jamaican resistance to pressure to speak “good English,” she created a beloved persona that refused categorization. Because she was female and delivered even the most scathing critiques in Creole, and with wit and humor, her status was paradoxical. Easily dismissed as frivolous in some literary circles, Bennett eventually garnered a large and loyal following and was able to take on issues of politics, race, gender, and economic conditions.103 What Carolyn Cooper has called her “parodic geo-politics” spoke to anyone who might have been listening, even as the elite at which it was aimed underestimated or feared the power of its sound.104 The entry of voices like Bennett’s into broadcasting drew from existing Creole publics as occasional listeners, but they were not, at this moment, central to broadcasting. While Bennett opened a space for the mediated sound of “nation language,” it was a fragile and contested space. Perhaps Bennett’s invocation of a radio that booed its politicians was more a desire than a description. Her notion that political figures might be moved and disturbed if the discontent of their constituencies were amplified and broadcast via radio speaks to the possibility of a dialogic politics. Yet for v oice
the moment, the language of business and politics in Jamaica remained primarily British English. Indeed, as Mervyn Alleyne noted in 1964, postcolonial politics were constrained by miscommunication between what he called “elites and masses,” as they continued to speak different languages.105
Broadcasting Blackness Often, broadcasting and media receive credit for recognizing and reviving local languages, for creating venues that give those languages new life in the context of an emergent populist nationalism.106 I have argued the opposite. Language here did not need to be resuscitated, as it was already very much alive. It was the media that was in need of vitalization, and the sound of creoles performed that revitalization, giving sustenance to technology that was becoming irrelevant to large segments of the population. Sonic blackness rescued Jamaican radio from the educational intentions of middle-class reformers following a BBC format. But this was only partial, as the message about the demand for creole language media never overcame elite insistence on “proper” English. In Haiti, anyone who wanted attention in the media understood the importance of using Kreyòl. Haitians responded to this with both loyalty and skepticism, depending on the source. Taking these examples together, the variety of sonic blacknesses becomes evident. Social scientists, linguists, agents of empire, and political leaders converged on the relevance of the “folk” and the languages they spoke. In Jamaica, the social scientists held sway, and Louise Bennett was able to speak in satirical and parodic tones because her voice was both contrary and contained. In Haiti, noirisme could mean opposition to occupation, to mulatto rule, or both. Despite the disagreements between proponents of noirisme and Kreyòl, consensus about the power of both to mobilize prevailed. In both Haiti and Jamaica, people navigated between “white talk” and “black talk,” and a broad range of voices in between. Sound and race constituted one another. Sound was another way, in addition to the ocular, to experience and inhabit race. The tone of what Brathwaite called “nation language” connected people to the legacies of slavery, but it also reminded them of the voices that were able to claim whatever autonomous spaces were available within its institutions. And the sounding of many positions within blackness, as performed by Louise Bennett, held out the possibility of troubling fixed, often pejorative, categories even as it sustained the vitality of the sound of blackness. 116 v oice
The radio researchers were hired to walk Cuba’s streets and listen. As they passed each household in their assigned neighborhood, they were to count all the radios they could hear. If it was possible to recognize programs and stations, they might jot down those details. They would estimate how many people may have been listening to a single radio. Sometimes the Asociación de Anunciantes de Cuba (Cuban Association of Announcers), which had hired these radio researchers, wanted more specific information. The researchers were instructed to knock on doors and inquire about listening habits, in the hope of determining what their employers called poder adquisitivo, or purchasing power. They would observe the domestic scene: Did the furniture and appliances look new or shabby? Was the household cluttered with many goods, or was it sparely furnished? How many people were present, and what was their age and gender? Finally, they were to scrutinize the residents’ appearance, including the quality of their clothing, which might be easy, and their race (which might have been a little more difficult, given Cuba’s shifting racial regimes).1 With its small army of researchers, the Asociación de Anunciantes implemented a complex methodology that reproduced this ambulatory investigation at specified days and times in a variety of neighborhoods in Havana and smaller Cuban cities. The aim was to gauge not just the size but the substance of their radio audiences.2 This survey may have offered an approximation of an audience’s size and demographics, but it gave no indication of listeners’ fidelity. For the industry, however, it was the combination of consistency and loyalty to a program or station that would convert an audience into a dependable listening public. Fidelity meant more than simply tuning in. It meant forming an attachment that entailed attention and belief. Fidelity was the hoped-for thing. The notion of fidelity runs through this chapter. Its multiple registers converge in my exploration of the relationships knitting together truth, 117
mendacity, politics, and the creation of listening publics. Fidelity has several meanings. One meaning involves faithfulness in reproduction. Recorded or broadcast sound hovers in the space between replication and distortion, and to listen means, in part, to be conscious of that space. With regard to radio, the question of fidelity extends in a different direction as well, toward the delivery of information or news. A public listening for news must have faith that what they are hearing is true, and the episodes in this chapter indicate high stakes for transactions involving listening publics, media, and news. Fidelity also means loyalty, and it is my contention that all of these meanings were essential to the production of listening publics in the Caribbean. In diverse conditions, broadcasts that intended to generate fidelity to people, nations, or ideologies transformed the conduct of politics. As they battled blindly for listeners’ attention, broadcasters hoped that both the promise of truth and the exhortation to loyalty might hold listening publics in place. This chapter heeds several moments in broadcasting in which people and voices tried to incite change by interfering with political processes, or mobilize crowds, or reach into affective dimensions and cement loyalties. I pursue a listening public “somewhere between the real and the imaginary” but always an actor in political tales.3 My method is to seek out the auditorium and to try to think about what listening meant in the fast-paced political scenarios that unfolded in such different ways in Cuba, Haiti, and Jamaica. Struggles over the fidelity of listening publics were crucial to the turbulent politics of the midcentury Caribbean. The relevance of the media shifts conventional periodization. Cuba’s revolution, Haiti’s transition to dictatorship, and Jamaican independence all occurred between the years 1959 and 1962. Scholars have used these moments to mark new periods in national histories. But in all of these cases, media, as a crucial tool of political transformation, had been built in prior decades. Taking media into account emphasizes continuities and stresses the role of publics as they moved, supported, and interfered with these transformations. The technologies of governance that are profoundly bound up with media circuits and practices are part of the twentieth-century story of the ways the public and the state, as “extraordinary fictions,” came to heed (or ignore) one another.4 In addition, listening across the region during this period recovers the very real connections that are muted when these tales are told in separate historiographies. Rather than attempt a comprehensive survey, I settle on episodes that have left written and aural traces of what I call mediated publics, or publics as imagined or hailed through and with media. The notion of mediated publics overlaps that of listening publics, but very 118 e ars
often, and particularly in times of crisis or conflict, people listened, read, and watched across different forms of media. Rather than haggling over fine distinctions in modes of consumption, my narrative dwells on radio and sound but allows that as radio, television, and the press were in dialogue with one another, they generated mediated publics that moved between the aural, the visual, and the textual. The narrative heeds zones of noise and silence, like the mediated and sonic ecologies at hand. And it is meant to be, like some of the broadcasts, a little loud, a little chaotic, a little fast-moving, leaving listeners to piece together what they had heard and what they hadn’t.
Loudspeakers Fidelity had long concerned radio and sound engineers as they sought to perfect recording and transmitting equipment. Sonic technologies needed to reproduce sound as faithfully as possible, approximating “the illusion of real presence” of a voice or set of instruments.5 What fidelity meant with regard to sound evolved over time and was constructed in dialogue with the demands of listeners and the preferences of the industry.6 Ultimately engineers aimed to “efface the mechanism of the machine” and proffer sonic transparency.7 These concerns were apparent as the radio industry began marketing its equipment. A document in the George H. Clark Radioana Collection at the Smithsonian Institution presents a list of possible loudspeaker names. By way of introduction, the author, Clark, an RCA employee and prodigious collector of radio-related material, proclaims his neutrality: “No attempt is made at suggesting a suitable name from the series. I am merely forwarding such names as suggested themselves from time to time.”8 Granting some agency to the names (“suggested themselves”), he put together a list that spoke to an ideal set of exchanges between apparatus and listener. The list of sonic qualities sets out aspirations for the relationship being created. The possibilities for “realness” seem to have transfixed technicians and producers. Speaking to the many different ways fidelity might be interpreted, the list promises clarity, sweetness, humanness, or similitude. “Claravox,” “Dulcetone,” “Humanavox,” and “Realitone” were all variations on the theme of fidelity, but as a whole they held out the aim of approximations to “real” sound.9 Yet reality was precisely what was always just beyond reach. In an essay that contemplates radio’s paradoxical relationship with “true” sound, Theodor Adorno notes that while radio may create illusions of proximity and immediacy, in the end “it is the voice of the man e ar s
George H. Clark, “Suggested Names for Loud Speaker,” September 2, 1922. (George H. Clark Radioana Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution)
in the box that suddenly seizes upon the listener. The sound comes out as if it had been imprisoned.” Radio sound, according to him, would always be lacking in comparison to unmediated sound: “Somehow it has lost its acoustic vitamins.”10 Marketing fought hard against the idea that reproduced sound was in any way diminished. Ad copy insisted on the lack of distortion and faithful reproduction. With reference to the RCA Loudspeaker 103, one ad asserted, “Its beautiful clear tone and resonant, lifelike reproduction will enhance the finest radio set.”11 Sometimes, perhaps attempting to restore Adorno’s “acoustic vitamins,” ads claimed not just to reproduce sound but to improve on it. As Hewlett’s ad proclaimed, its loudspeakers “reproduced sound more perfect than the original.”12 Loudspeakers were often cast in political terms, as giving voice to the weak: “David, in the form of a mere infant lisping into the microphone, is transformed into Goliath when the Hewlett loudspeaker amplifies this sound millions of times, and hurls it across the air so that it can be heard three miles away.”13 Bringing labor conditions into the politicized narrative, 120 e ar s
an RCA promotional article offered readers an account of factory conditions. Loudspeakers were made in a workplace full of highly competent, satisfied workers, happy to contribute to the greater cause of creating clarity and eliminating distortion from the sonic world. Each one worked with precision, the article claimed, and contributed almost joyously to the task at hand: Another important part of the 100A loudspeaker is the filter coil. Each one of these filter coils must be tested by Katherine Eadie[,] who quickly discovers if each coil has been made correctly. Katherine rapidly tests these coils on a machine[,] which immediately indicates if the coil has an open or short circuit or detects an inaccuracy as small as one turn in three thousand. These filter coils are attached to the left hand side of the cone support made by “Alex” Henk of the metal stamping division, and keep distortion and noises from being reproduced by the speaker. The images attached to this article in Westinghouse Magazine showed well-dressed white workers absorbed in their tasks. And as if the implicit narrative and accompanying visual evidence were not enough, the article quoted Whiting Williams, “one of the best authorities on labor conditions in the world,” who claimed, “We must rid ourselves of the ‘hangover’ idea that the worker wants only money. He wants the thrill of knowing how much he counts for in the thing on which he works.” This statement framed the article by assuring readers of the laborers’ contentedness. Whether or not workers were as satisfied, indeed thrilled, as the article claimed is a question that demands further investigation. Nevertheless, they and the equipment they produced were part of an industry that created electronic sound throughout the globe by connecting producers and consumers in a quest for acoustic fidelity: “John Koszik makes a final inspection, slips the completed speaker into a bag, and sends it to the shipping department. From there it may go anywhere.”14
The Lettered Radio Station Some of those RCA loudspeakers ended up in places like Pinar del Río, a medium-sized city 110 miles southwest of Havana. Fortunately for historians of radio, the archive of Pinar del Río station CMAB has ended up at the provincial archive, and as such is the only collection of historic documents from a radio station located in a public Cuban archive. While doing research for this project in that archive, I found a letter dated October 31, 1950, and addressed to the announcer of a radio program. It recounted e ar s
a series of conflicts and requested that the announcer intervene on the letter-writers’ behalf. The authors of this letter, Milagro Echebarría and Dora Rodríguez, complained that their priest had destroyed a series of flower beds in their cemetery, flower beds which they had carefully tended and which surrounded the tombs of their loved ones. Emphasizing their low social status and powerlessness, they appealed to the announcer to “defend them with his words.” “Even if we are not ladies,” Echebarría and Rodríguez wrote, “the priest should not force us to pay for the upkeep of the tombs of our loved ones and then destroy the flowerbeds.” The letter was handwritten in pencil, with many errors in spelling and grammar. Someone, perhaps the announcer, had gone through it and corrected it in pen.15 This was one of many letters in a large file marked “correspondence.” All of them were addressed to a single person: Moisés González Castañet, the announcer of Lo que pasa en Pinar del Río. First aired in 1945, the program attended exclusively to local concerns and local news. It came to be structured interactively, with the town’s inhabitants producing as well as consuming the information, protests, and pleas that made up most of the broadcast. An early example of what Rosalía Winocur calls mediated citizenship, the letters attest to the ways Pinar del Río’s residents understood and constituted themselves as such.16 When the city of Pinar del Río created CMAB in 1930, it became one of seventeen Cuban towns in addition to Havana that had established a radio station. While Havana was by this time replete with radio stations, of the other municipalities, only Matanzas and Marianao had more than two.17 By 1939, twenty-two towns had stations. Some, including Camagüey and Santiago, had as many as seven, but the majority, including Pinar del Río, had only one.18 By 1942, Pinar had finally acquired a second radio station.19 CMAB was part of a nationwide radio chain that received programming from CMQ, one of the most popular radio stations in Havana.20 While this kept Pinar del Río up to date with the latest musical programs and radionovelas, it also placed the station under the purview of the national government, whose shifting bureaucratic structures tried to keep track of a burgeoning radio industry in Cuba.21 CMAB’s programming in the 1940s was a standard mix of news, music, and national and international content. Listeners could tune in to programs of Argentine, Mexican, and Cuban music, among others.22 There were educational programs and soap operas. As with other Cuban stations, much of CMAB’s funding came from advertising for a wide range of products, including those of U.S. companies such as Colgate or Palmolive, 122 e ars
which advertised on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and Cuban ones, including Crusellas, Jabón Candado, and Amarillo, which had airtime on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.23 CMAB thus fostered multiple affiliations. Listeners might imagine intersubjective connections as consumers, Cubans, or Latin Americans. In addition, Lo que pasa en Pinar del Río afforded them an opportunity for mediated citizenship at the community level, partially beyond the purview of corporate interests or the neocolonial state, which were said to dominate prerevolutionary Cuban media.24 Given the criticism that accompanied its inauguration, Lo que pasa may have been an unusual program. Skeptics questioned the viability of the program, arguing that nothing ever happened in Pinar and that there wouldn’t be enough news or events to sustain the program. Yet the program survived, with documents in the archive until 1952, and perhaps continuing longer than that. The trove of letters intended for that program included requests, denunciations, and exposés the writers wanted publicized. Refuting the doubts articulated early on, Lo que pasa came to be one of the station’s most successful programs. Two years after its creation, an article claimed that the volume of listeners was at 97 percent. After four years, a second article reported that it continued to be as popular.25 Even if we are skeptical about the viability of audience research, the volume of letters and their frequent reiteration of the show’s popularity attest to a broad listenership. The letters formed part of a process whereby town residents became both producers and consumers of news. In some cases, people sent in information about lost items, which were then retrieved. In others, residents rallied around a city repairman, paying his fine when his truck’s license expired. The show was apparently so in tune with inhabitants’ comings and goings that it became known as “la chismosa,” or “the gossipmonger.”26 If Lo que pasa was community radio, however, this was not in the sense that it served a group of people with uniform interests. On the contrary, the letters in the archive make clear the community’s fractious nature. Social boundaries were constantly being policed, and many of the requests for announcements sought to fortify those boundaries. At the same time, the program allowed for communication across the same boundaries in ways that might not otherwise happen. A lengthy letter written by Nena Pérez, María Mesa, and Celia Suárez in 1952 is at first glance a request for additional benches in Malecón and Independencia, two parks that were undergoing renovations. But that simple request is framed by a broader complaint about performances of gender and class that troubled the letter writers. They point out that in the absence of benches, most residents e ar s
flocked to Maceo Park, the only one with proper seating. The crush of people fostered impropriety, as “large numbers of men sit in the middle of the park in the evening, impeding women as they stroll and accosting them with all kinds of insolent and rude remarks.”27 The writers appeal to the announcer, on the basis of the “great interest this civic station takes in matters of culture and progress,” to “convince the authorities to put benches in the parks.” In the rather circuitous strategy of persuading the authorities to install park benches in order to eliminate rude male behavior, the radio program correspondence attests to a continuum of writing, listening, and speaking that comprises the activity of a mediated citizenry.28 In some instances, radio served as a means to convey a message while avoiding direct confrontation. This is particularly evident in the letter from Ramón Pérez, who was very upset about the amount of what he called “brujerías” discarded in the street: “dead chickens and pigeons, coconuts, herbs, smashed eggs. Colored ribbons and other items that are used by these people who lack all sense of morality and who dedicate themselves to all kinds of witchcraft.”29 Not only were these items offensive in and of themselves, but they also often ended up on a street corner very close to a school. Children passing by were exposed to these “uncivilized” objects. To make things worse, their stopping to gawk made them late for school. Pérez asked González Castañet to make his letter public so as to motivate the authorities to respond. The letter doesn’t mention whether he had tried to solve this problem in other ways, whether he had spoken to the culprits, or if he even knew who they were. But at this moment appealing to the radio station must have seemed the most viable option. Like the citizens seeking additional seating in the parks, Pérez saw the radio program as a means to both cross and police social and cultural boundaries. The letters also indicate the ways the program mediated relationships between state officials and town residents. Many letters sent by residents demand the repair of a road or cleaning of the water supply. Understood as a sort of channel from “the people” to “the state,” the station, and in particular the program, seems to have functioned in many cases as a necessary step in negotiations; if Pinareños wanted something to happen, they did not appeal to city hall or write to an official directly; instead they implored the radio announcer to air their particular complaint. Appeals moved in both directions: officials also sent the station decrees and announcements that they needed to make public. The space itself came to be imagined as one in which a dialogue between state and citizens might take place. One announcement read as follows: “Mr. Engineer and Chief of Public Works, over the last few days we have offered you our microphones, so that you 124 e ar s
can tell the Pinareño community of your plans as Chief Engineer of Pinar del Río. Projects are paralyzed and you have refused to address the public. We await you.”30 The role of the announcer, Moisés González Castañet, is worth considering. He decided which pleas to announce, which constituency to privilege in those announcements, which stories to broadcast, and which to keep quiet. By 1950 the volume of information forced him to be selective. His request that letters be dropped off by 4 p.m. so as to give him time to prepare his program suggests that he had more than enough from which to choose, and that he also determined not to air some of the announcements.31 A decision to give airtime to or to ignore a particular letter was a political act. His listeners recognized this. Many of the letters began or ended with an acknowledgment of his position and influence in the community. “I ask you sir, who is so often attentive to our complaints,” or, “you who so generously defends the rights of peasants, that you defend us with your words, even if it’s on your program, and we’ll find some way to repay you.”32 The program’s politics were not straightforwardly either “for” or “against” the people or the state. State officials’ use of the forum González Castañet provided included an announcement sent by politician Pablo Rafael Lara Véliz of the deadline for the voluntary declaration and paying of taxes. If people didn’t heed this announcement, the letter emphasized, they would lose their jobs.33 Envisioning the radio announcer as not simply disseminator but also advocate, Lara also sought González Castañet’s help in defusing a powerful rumor with the potential to ruin the politician’s career. In the archive, the story unfolds in three documents. Two documents are stapled together: one is a telegram, sent by Lara to CMW, a radio station in Havana. In the telegram, Lara informs the radio station that he is going to sue it for falsely accusing him of embezzlement in his post as Pinar del Río’s municipal treasurer. In the note attached to the telegram, Lara asks his “good friend Moisés” to help him publicize the contents of his telegram and to defend him against the accusation. Lara argues that he couldn’t possibly be guilty of embezzlement, as any cash collected by the city was sent directly to the capital after only one day. In his defense he details the accountability assured by certain transactions. The third document seems to be the announcement itself, much longer and more elaborate than the explanation provided, in which González Castañet defends Lara against any accusations or “rumors” of wrongdoing. He even turns the accusations back on the broadcaster in Havana, whom he mentions by name (Lara’s note e ar s
had not done so), referring to his allegations as “calumnies.”34 In this set of interactions the radio program moved far beyond reporting the news to taking a central role in the unfolding of events. For Lo que pasa to function properly, listeners and writers required the program’s fidelity to themselves as both producers and consumers of the events and their narration. The mutual constitution of program and listeners extended beyond Lo que pasa to the station’s general practices. CMAB built its listening public by creating a performing public. It targeted different sectors with particular programs and then encouraged them to come on the air. One program addressed the needs of students with information about teachers and assignments and invited students to be announcers. Broadcasts of talent shows were filled with Pinareños eager to display their abilities. These were often combined with programs for campesinos or members of different unions. Many sponsors were based in Pinar del Río as well. Different local firms sponsored different shows, so they hailed publics in two ways: listeners would hear the advertisements, but they also become part of the ads when they performed on sponsored programs. Other stations also incorporated listening publics as performing publics. CMAD, CMAB’s rival, created jobs for young men as announcers on ads, making these youths part of the performing public. As a historian of Pinar del Río radio argues, for these young men, “the scant salaries didn’t correspond with the standards of the day, but the youths’ enthusiasm [for being on the air] supplemented their poverty.”35 The investment for citizens was multiple: in their city, in the marketed products, in their own participation. Becoming a public resulted from having contributed to a broadcast in some way. Once they had taken part as performers, listeners may have felt a proprietary stake in listening. But the radio also mediated between different groups: unions and government, neighbor and neighbor, student and teacher, singer and audience, rural and urban dwellers. Fractiousness didn’t matter; it made for good radio. The imagining of community, or what Kate Lacey might call intersubjectivity, crucial to the listening public, was not necessarily built on harmony.36 Rather it subsisted through giving voice to different sectors and airing differences.
Counting Ears As broadcasting became part of the din of everyday life, social scientists sought to apprehend the nature of the listening public by counting, measuring, and gauging influence. In the end, they acknowledged the flimsy 126 e ar s
nature of their methods but persisted in seeking to render listeners visible. In Cuba, the methods for counting ears began with principles developed by U.S. marketers and their interests in sheer numbers over the subtleties of preference and affect. Radio researchers often noted the abundance of written correspondence in response to radio programs, such as the ones in the CMAB archive in Pinar del Río. But they understood letters as a seductive trap, evidence of some listeners’ enthusiasm as well as of their unrepresentative circularity as indicators of overall audience response.37 Instead, radio researchers in the United States honed in on counting as a way to find and identify audiences. They devised methods such as mailed surveys and the “simultaneous phone call,” in which canvassers telephoned households and asked what inhabitants were listening to at that moment, or the Nielsen Audimeter, a tracking device attached to a radio or television set that made human interaction unnecessary.38 The research industries that emerged alongside broadcasting grew out of a number of concerns. As Sarah Igo has pointed out, in the United States this accompanied a general rise in the practice of surveying and measuring the population: “Several streams—scientific, institutional, commercial and cultural—converged to permit survey data to take on a new prominence in the twentieth century United States. These ranged from innovations in sampling techniques to the professionalization of social science, and from the waging of war to the expansion of national media.”39 Surveying became a way to understand modern life, and nearly everything came under scrutiny. Moreover, the expansion of national media that disseminated survey results at the same time produced a double effect, in which “this merger between new facts and new outlets for them meant that ordinary people now had access to the sorts of data once reserved for a few. It also meant, in a powerful fashion, that the public could now find out who ‘the public’ was.”40 A sense of uncertainty with regard to what exactly was being counted worried early surveyors. Advertisers, assuming that quantity mattered most, counted radio ownership and created complicated formulas for numbers of listeners per set, based on average family size. Beyond that, they counted years of ownership, hours and times of listening, and years of education.41 But these data didn’t necessarily get at what psychologist Hadley Cantril called “tastes and habits.” Interest in these tastes, and the broader psychological and sociological implications of radio, supported the funding of the Princeton Radio Research Project, headed by sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld, in which Cantril and others, including (briefly) Theodor Adorno, studied the impact of media on society. From here Cantril e ar s
produced the analysis of responses to Orson Welles’s famous “War of the Worlds” broadcast in 1938, research published as The Invasion from Mars: A Study in the Psychology of Panic (1940).42 Cuban media used its ties to U.S. institutions to take up audience research as well. Cuba’s principal advertising agency, the Agencia Mestre de Publicidad, sent the psychologist Raúl Gutiérrez to New York to study survey methods with Lazarsfeld. Gutiérrez returned to Cuba and helped create the audience research section of the publicity agency, which then sold its services to the Asociación de Anunciantes de Cuba.43 In Cuba, research practices had to be adjusted to local conditions. Lacking the sophisticated technology of the Nielsen Audimeter, and perhaps not trusting listeners to return mailed surveys, the Asociación de Anunciantes settled on its technique of ambulatory surveyors. In theory, this was to deliver an on-the-ground accounting of the listening public. Since Cuba’s radio industry was primarily commercial, the facts constructed by these surveys were intended to serve advertisers. The emphasis on social status, which in Cuba meant a hard-to-define combination of phenotype, wealth, education, and family, presumed that face-to-face surveys would be most accurate. This research strategy was a Cuban solution to a problem identified from the very beginning of radio broadcasting: Who was listening? Was there a radio public and what were the details of its existence? It was through efforts such as these that the public, as a collection of attentive ears, became an object of study that could be probed and scrutinized. In the more idealized British and Jamaican context of state-sponsored radio, the pursuit of the listener sought to discern the level of absorption of cultural lessons. In the United Kingdom, the BBC created an in-house research unit headed by Robert Silvey. Silvey’s account of the development of audience research at the BBC dwells on the methodological issues that arise when accounting for the listening public. To begin with, the methods most common to U.S. marketers came up short. The simultaneous phone call missed too many people. The recall method relied on people’s faulty memory. The meter method, like the Nielsen ratings, may have measured numbers, but it couldn’t measure attention or fidelity to a particular station. Silvey posed the problem of the radio listening public in comparison to that of a theater or cinema audience, which for the most part remained seated throughout a performance or screening: “The people exposed to a broadcast are not similarly captive.”44 At the same time, however, asking people what they liked did not necessarily tell the surveyor anything about audience size. In wartime, measuring the impact or influence of a broadcast became particularly important given the proliferation of propaganda. 128 e ars
Psychologists and sociologists gained relevance in market-driven inquiries, as the emphasis on qualitative rather than quantitative research offered a way into listeners’ heads. But this too was problematic, and researchers invoked a multiplying number of criteria such as religion, education, and wealth to get answers to the seemingly simple question of how people comprehended the words and sounds that emanated from their radios. The hybrid nature of Jamaican radio demanded a fluid approach to the question of audience.45 Once Jamaica adopted commercial broadcasting, attention to the civilizing effects of broadcasting gave way to a concern for sheer numbers. Surveys counted the number of radios owned or rediffusion subscriptions purchased.46 Counting listeners (surveys estimated five per set or subscription) without attending to their satisfaction or pleasure yielded a legible increase in Jamaica’s listening public. The leap from 75,000 in 1947 to 285,000 in 1956 (out of a population of 1.5 million) seemed significant enough for the Central Rediffusion Services to proclaim that “the people of the Caribbean do listen, and they like their listening.”47 Yet the report itself made no effort to support its own claims about the fidelity of the listening public. It did note the inequality of distribution of radio and rediffusion, admitting that for the “considerable proportion of the working population, near or below subsistence level, and the many unfortunately out of work, a radio set or a Rediffusion loudspeaker is made a luxury by circumstance.” In Jamaica and Britain, the quality of the audience remained elusive. After years of research, Silvey opened a speech titled “The Measurement of Audiences” by voicing his continuing doubts about the enterprise (which by this time extended to television audiences as well): “Some of them, it is true, may remain in their chairs throughout, enthralled from start to finish. . . . [S]ome, though present in the room, may virtually ignore the broadcast their set is receiving. . . . Is the listener who reads the newspaper to the accompaniment of a radio discussion part of its audience or is he not? Can a viewer who is called several times to the telephone in the course of watching a play be regarded as having seen it? If mother tolerates sports view only because father wants it on, is she part of the audience?”48 Historians of Cuban radio have echoed Silvey’s concerns and problematized the creation of listener surveys. In La radio en Cuba, Oscar Luis López lists the many ways surveys did not measure what they claimed. Some of the numbers resulted from gaming the system. In order to get a listener’s attention for a full fifteen minutes (the surveys’ requirement for a “unit”), radio stations would announce an upcoming song and then refrain from playing it until the end of the quarter hour. A more institutionalized and e ar s
expensive strategy was to announce, via loudspeakers mounted on roaming trucks, the time and day of the survey, and promise listeners a sum of money if they tuned in at that time.49 In addition, the research strategy itself was problematic. As López writes, it would have been impossible to accomplish the survey as prescribed by the station sponsors or the Asociación de Anunciantes. The surveyor was to complete one interview per minute for two and one-quarter hours. López describes the process in detail, including climbing up and down stairs, knocking on doors, and waiting for willing or recalcitrant respondents to answer, observing the details of the household, counting the number of listeners, and verifying the station and program. Conceding the Sisyphean nature of the assignment, he concluded, “You don’t need to be a great psychologist, or an expert in statistics, to understand that no human being is capable of completing this task.”50
Echoes of Gunshots Political actors were not as bothered with the ontological and methodological questions that haunted radio researchers. They presumed listening, attentive publics and devised strategies premised on their existence. The National Archive of Cuba in Havana contains a document dated March 13, 1957, titled “Copy of the speech given by José Antonio Echeverría on Radio Reloj, notifying the people of the attack on the presidential palace committed by the Directorio Revolucionario.”51 The text announces President Fulgencio Batista’s death with a dramatic flourish: “People of Cuba, the dictator Fulgencio Batista has been finally brought to justice. The echoes of the gunshots that ended the bloody tyrant’s life are still reverberating in the presidential palace.” It goes on to take credit for the assassination, naming Faure Chomón of the Directorio Revolucionario (DR), of which Echeverría was also a leader, as the head of the operation. One and a half pages long, the document closes by exhorting Habaneros to leave their homes, take up weapons stockpiled at the University of Havana, and defend the revolution by attacking Batista’s cronies and associates. The surviving recording of Echeverría’s broadcast tells a different story. Two voices come on the air. The first suggests momentous events and introduces Echeverría in rapid-fire tones. When Echeverría comes on, he speaks urgently but more slowly, enunciating clearly so there can be no mistaking what he says. Only seconds after he announces Batista’s death, he is cut off. Unbeknownst to Echeverría, the transmitter had automatically 130 e ars
shut itself off in response to a loud noise, as it was designed to do. Listeners tuned in to Radio Reloj never heard the call to take up arms.52 The documentary traces left behind—a written text and a recording— speak to both the event and its recorded history. This episode has produced archival vestiges in different forms, from which it is possible to glean a more textured sense of that March afternoon. The tension between the written text, a seamless, hopeful script that imagines how a series of events might lead to the dictator’s ouster, and the crackling, jumpy sound of urgency and tentative triumph in the recording that is cut off abruptly, ending without a real ending, brings to bear a tangible, or rather audible, sense of the role of sonic technologies in this particular history. It also stresses the space “between the real and imaginary” publics, as well as the ways that space came to be inhabited by political actors. Fulgencio Batista did not die that day. The DR, an underground student group dedicated to armed revolution, had created an elaborate plan atista’s to set off what its members hoped would lead to the overthrow of B regime.53 After months of deliberation, they had decided to engage in two simultaneous actions. One group, in two cars and a van marked “Fast Delivery,” drove up to the palace just after three o’clock that afternoon. Its passengers jumped out and ran up the palace steps, killing a guard and continuing inside to look for Batista. Another group of students led by Echeverría left their hiding places in Havana’s middle-class neighborhood of Vedado in three separate cars and drove the short distance to Radiocentro, the complex that housed the radio station, also arriving shortly after three o’clock. While the students at the palace roamed through the corridors looking for Batista (who was finishing lunch in a private study the rebels didn’t know existed), Echeverría and a few others entered the station, several kilometers away. Before handing the microphone to Echeverría, the announcer at Radio Reloj read a script that had been prepared for him by Samuel Cherson of the DR. Once Echeverría discovered that his broadcast had been silenced, he and his companions fled the station and headed toward the nearby University of Havana campus.54 According to contemporary press reports, Batista responded swiftly to both prongs of the attack. “All I did was use the telephone and give orders to my aides,” he told Associated Press reporters, “although my loaded .45 was very near my hand.”55 He had received some information about an imminent attack and was prepared to call in palace guards to stop the students from advancing any further. He also notified the army, which sent twenty tanks rolling into downtown Havana. In fact, for most of the episode Batista remained on the telephone, informing police, army, and navy leaders e ar s
Delivery van used in assassination attempt against Batista, March 1957. (Museum of the Revolution, Havana, Cuba; photograph by author)
of the situation inside the palace as well as fielding calls from concerned friends and family.56 The police used their own communications system— the most powerful shortwave network in Havana—and sent officers to pursue those who had seized the radio station. As Echeverría fled Radio Reloj, police officers shot and killed him. Downtown near the palace, about thirty students and many palace guards lost their lives. Within two hours, tanks had occupied the space near the palace and the combined forces of the military and police had emptied the streets and imposed an armed silence. By early evening, a government announcement over the airwaves proclaimed that everything was back to normal.57 The DR, which had planned and executed the attack, was an armed and more militant version of the Federación Estudiantil Universitaria (FEU), founded in 1922. The transition from FEU to DR occurred in 1956, following numerous university closures.58 When Echeverría joined, in the early 1950s, the FEU was already well versed in using exuberant political theater to interfere with the everyday workings of the university. In April 1952, one month after Batista led a coup that overthrew the democratically elected government, FEU members held a public funeral for the constitution, burying the text on the university campus. The FEU came to assume a listening (and viewing) public as a matter of course. In December 1955, the student organization decided to disrupt a televised baseball game between the Habana and Almendares teams at 132 e ars
the Cerro stadium, which they hoped would draw a large audience composed of spectators at home as well as at the stadium. During the third inning of a doubleheader, a group of students leaped onto the field at the third base line, carrying signs of protest against the government. Violence ensued when police tried to stop them, and at least twenty students were injured. Some television cameras turned their lenses on the conflict between police and protesters. As a result, spectators tuned to Channel 4 watched the entire incident. In addition, radio announcers narrated the events to startled listeners at home. The students had counted on, indeed planned for, the violent police response and the public broadcasts.59 As might have been predicted, the press denounced the violence, and the government tightened its control over radio and television news programs, beginning with the arrests of the cameramen of Channel 4 and the sports announcers present at the game and culminating in a general suspension of news programs on Channel 4.60 These reactions demonstrated both support for the students and backlash against their strategies. They also suggest that appealing to, counting on, and blocking access to potential publics had become central to political practice. While it might have been impossible to discern the size and attentiveness of that public, the possibility of its existence shaped events as they unfolded and informed subsequent plans. In an initial plot to assassinate Batista, the student Juan Pedro Carbó imagined a spectacle made possible by the media: “It’s very simple: we’ll put him in the trunk of the first car, sound the horns and go to the CMQ television studios. We will put the despot’s cadaver in front of the cameras and announce his death.”61 The plan they actually executed in March 1957 was a pared-down version of this. Over the radio the students could announce a death without having to produce an actual cadaver. It would be a virtual death, but they were counting on it having the same effect. Such schemes may have been inspired by other Cubans who used visual and aural spectacle to great effect. No figure was more emblematic of the power of radio, and of the presumed presence of a listening public, than Edouardo Chibás, the famously outspoken critic of the status quo whose radio broadcasts became legendary. A leader in efforts to denounce corruption and imperialism, he had ended his broadcast of August 1951 by shooting himself in the stomach at the end of his show, believing he was still on the air (in fact Chibás’s time had run out, and listeners heard an advertisement for Café Pilón).62 The elusive listening public materialized at his funeral as thousands of mourners poured into the streets of Havana.63 Perhaps Echeverría imagined, six years later, that the radio announcement e ar s
of Batista’s death would be a fitting sequel to this drama. In any event, the spontaneous, uncontrolled nature of both Chibás’s final broadcast and the false announcement of Batista’s death, as well as Batista’s efforts to control and screen all political broadcasts, indicate the high stakes—for all sides— of summoning the fidelity of listening publics. The students’ strategy in March 1957 also drew from the confirmed presence of listeners in the public spaces surrounding the station. Radiocentro was located only two blocks from the University of Havana campus. It housed Radio Reloj and CMQ, Havana’s most popular station, and boasted loudspeakers from which programming emanated. Radio Reloj was founded in 1947, with the purpose of acting as a public timekeeper (reloj being the Spanish word for clock). It acquired a reputation for accuracy, not just as the source of unfailingly dependable demarcations of fifteen-minute intervals but also as a reliable source of news broadcast within those intervals. Initially located in a small out-of-the-way studio, it was moved to a street-level arcade in Radiocentro in response to letters from curious listeners. Passersby could observe programs in the making through the recording studios’ windows or sit in one of the cafés and take in the entire scene.64 Radiocentro produced programming heard throughout the island as well as a lively social setting in its immediate vicinity. Echeverría and his friends are reported to have been regulars at the complex and its cafés. One of Radio Reloj’s announcers, Floreal Chomón, was the brother of the attack’s leader, Faure Chomón.65 The creation of listening spaces and social networks surrounding the station and the proximity to the university made Radio Reloj a logical choice for its part in the double assault in March 1957. Counting on the presence of a listening public habituated to regular and relatively trustworthy journalism, Batista’s government itself had recently wielded false news to great effect. The well-known tale of Fidel Castro’s arrival in Cuba on the Granma in December 1956 is as relevant to an exploration of media and publics as it is to more traditional narratives about the Cuban Revolution. As Castro and his men disembarked in Oriente and launched their attempts at armed revolution, Batista’s forces met them and killed a majority of them, leaving only Castro and a few others alive.66 Newspapers and radio news programs, however, claimed that all the combatants, including Castro, had died. Rumors abounded as to the veracity of this claim, but for months there was no definitive proof of Castro’s life or death.67 It was only when New York Times reporter Herbert Matthews journeyed into the Sierra Maestra, interviewed Castro, and publicized the interview complete with photographs that definitive proof of Fidel’s 134 e ar s
existence, and Batista’s lies, emerged. The interview appeared on February 24, 1957, only three weeks prior to Echeverría’s attempt on Batista’s life.68 When Batista responded rather unpredictably by lifting some press restrictions, Bohemia published Matthews’s comments about Echeverría, whom he had interviewed many months prior. Published on March 10, 1957, the fifth anniversary of Batista’s coup and only three days before Echeverría’s death, the article noted that Echeverría was much sought after by Havana’s police, that he had abundant hair with a few strands of gray, that he was an anticommunist and not afraid to die.69 The extent to which the students’ actions succeeded in conjuring a listening public remains unclear. In Havana, people stayed inside after Echeverría’s thwarted broadcast, familiar enough by now with the dangers of taking to the streets in moments of crisis.70 In Santiago, however, supporters of the Movimiento 26 de Julio (July 26 Movement, or M-26-7) went into the streets to seek information or cautiously celebrate.71 The government reacted as if the students had succeeded in the assassination attempt, by killing many of the rebels and asserting total control over the means of communication. In his countereffort to reach potential audiences, Batista’s forces took command of not only Radio Reloj but all radio and television stations throughout the island, and they imposed strict censorship. Forbidding the dissemination of images showing any violent encounters between rebels and police, Batista allowed only government broadcasts on both radio and television.72 The event may have enabled Batista to further control the sound and look of politics. This episode points to the sometimes violent intersection of mediapolitics and listening publics. Echeverría and his partners had operated with faith that Cubans were listening in for just such a moment and were prepared to follow their directives. They never found out whether this was true, as they died in the attempt. Interpretations of listening as participatory, such as those of Kate Lacey and Peter Szendy, may be rightfully optimistic about its promise to generate greater transparency in the practice of politics.73 But here, the repressive arm of the state was the most salient and participatory listener as it intensified violence and imposed control of all publics. The effort to hail a sympathetic listening public included the possibility of mobilizing a hostile audience instead.
Meanwhile in Haiti: Mediapolitics and Crisis Just a few months later in Haiti, politicians also tried to manage the often volatile connection between listening, media, and popular mobilization. e ar s
The listening public that Echeverría had gambled on and that Batista sought to control also shaped political conflicts in the midst of a crisis following the April 1957 ouster of President Paul Magloire amid conflicts over the length of his term. In the aftermath, a self-appointed Executive Council vied for legitimacy against an increasingly hostile military. As the council fragmented, four of its members, candidates for president in upcoming elections, took to the air. On April 25, 1957, the New York Times reported that “after a night of high pressure radio propaganda by the political bureaus of four leading candidates for president: Senator Louis Dejoie, Francois Duvalier, Daniel Fignolé and Clement Jumelle—the capital awoke today to an air of increasing tension.” Three days later, the same Executive Council attempted to defuse the tension it had helped create by trying to control the media: “All political meetings and inflammatory radio broadcasts were banned in an effort to prevent the tense situation from erupting into popular demonstrations.”74 The prohibition seems to have failed to silence the potentially explosive communications, as two weeks later the Executive Council implemented further measures meant to thwart the media’s mobilization of a jumpy public. “The council ordered heavy fines and imprisonment for all owners of newspapers or radio stations who release material inciting revolt.”75 The following day, the Executive Council, on the defensive against accusations of censorship, went on the radio to urge Haitians to register to vote.76 When a brokered deal resulted in the installation of Daniel Fignolé as president, the listening public took to the streets and demonstrated its support by destroying the radio stations of his competitors: “A Fignolist rally was spontaneously organized. Thousands of people from ‘popular’ neighborhoods ran through the streets shouting ‘Vive Fignolé for President!’ At the same time, Antoine Hérald’s Radio Port-au-Prince (Duvalierist), the station MBC, and the newspaper Le Jour were invaded, looted, and completely destroyed by the multitude. Radio Jean-Jacques Dessalines, owned by Jumelle’s group, was treated in the same way.”77 A few days later, however, calm prevailed and the routines of daily life resumed. The newspapers noted the eagerness with which Haitians returned to the business of living, observing that they “streamed to work” and “radios blared American music,” a sure sign that all was “as if nothing had happened.”78 In contrast, Fignolé’s opponents started a radio campaign against him almost immediately. After only nineteen days in office, he was driven from power. As if fed up with the precarious nature of mediated news, Haitians ignored broadcasts announcing that Fignolé was in New York and instead spread rumors of his execution. In this instance 136 e ars
they rejected radio but continued to rely on sound to intervene publicly: “Trouble started after curfew[,] . . . when Fignolists put the old ‘tenebre’ passive resistance system into action. This consists of wailing and banging rocks against steel drums and lamp-posts in the dark.”79 General Antonio Kébreau, leader of the movement against Fignolé, put a primitivist spin on the sounds emanating from certain neighborhoods: “General Kebreau described Port au Prince as a jungle. He told reporters the description occurred to him because of the weird wailings and cries of Fignolé supporters huddled in their ramshackle huts in the slums near the port area in total darkness.”80 This ended in violence, as “the troops were reported to have sprayed submachine gun fire at the roofs of particularly noisy huts.”81 The year 1957 drew to a close in the Caribbean with the widespread use of censorship as a political strategy. In Haiti, censors shut down the press during the September elections that would place Duvalier in office and send his opponents Jumelle, Déjoie, and Fignolé abroad to reorganize the opposition. In Cuba, as the rebels’ M-26-7 movement gained followers and an increasingly attentive public, Batista suspended constitutional guarantees, and on August 1 imposed censorship on radio, television, and print media.82 Meanwhile, Jamaican airwaves were muted not so much by government censorship as by continually inadequate radio technology and infrastructure. On the same page on September 25, 1957, the Gleaner offered an article on the Inter-American Press Association’s denunciation of Batista’s censorship policies, an analysis of recent events in Haiti in the context of regional suffrage and electoral politics, and a letter to the editor that repeated a familiar refrain: “I noticed a letter from ‘Radio Sufferer’ in the Gleaner of 17th September and agree wholeheartedly that reception of Radio Jamaica on the Northcoast leaves much to be desired. For days at a time I am either unable to pick it up at all, or else only very indistinctly, with infrequent clear periods. Reception of radio stations such as WINZ in Florida is frequently superior, and certainly no worse. I am, etc., DISGUSTED.”83
Fidel(ity) The narrative of this chapter, centered on the making of mediapolitics and listening publics, renders the 1959 overthrow of Batista by Fidel Castro and his supporters less of a rupture and more of an intensification of processes sown in the 1930s. The publics that witnessed incidents such as Chibás’s suicide, and that stations in towns like Pinar del Río had cultivated by e ar s
hailing listeners as performers, were prepared to tune in to rapidly unfolding events and to become part of them. By the time the struggle against Batista was fought over the air as well as in other arenas, Cubans knew how to listen. Numerous clandestine radio stations had sprung up as soon as Batista imposed censorship on recognized media outlets. The variety of stations echoed the fractious nature of the opposition, made up of many groups and not heeding a single leader until 1958.84 These stations, located across the island in Camagüey, Bayamo, Cienfuegos, and Havana, among other places, challenged authorities as they brought opposition voices into Cubans’ homes while remaining hidden in secret locations. Che Guevara recognized the impact these stations might have and was instrumental to the founding of Radio Rebelde, which initiated its broadcasts in the spring of 1958. It began clumsily (broadcasting to only 300 meters away), but under the direction of writer and journalist Carlos Franqui it quickly grew into a network linking dozens of stations across the island.85 As it broadcast news, music, and rebel speeches over shortwave for a few hours a day, Cubans in both the city and the countryside began to tune in. Anecdotes of Cubans across the island shutting their doors, pulling the curtains, and turning on the radio are the evidentiary traces of the station’s popularity on the island. Off the island, listeners in places like Venezuela, Florida, and Mexico began to tune in. Radio Rebelde broadcast news that was perceived as accurate, including recounting the crimes of the Batista regime. It also relayed messages from the rebels to their families.86 Deliberately allowing listeners to eavesdrop on rebels’ official communications, the network created a sense of intimacy between them and listeners: “ Amateur transmitters were used by the rebels for communications, sometimes in code, but more often openly for the benefit of sympathizers listening in.”87 Though Batista often responded with censorship of press and radio, the agility of the clandestine technology worked against him. As Castro’s movement gathered strength (and experienced setbacks), mediated citizenship guided the actions of Cubans. The presence of a charismatic opposition multiplied listening publics. As radio shrank the physical and psychological space between urban Havana and the events in the rugged Sierra Maestra, it also became the source for what Michael Warner has called “poetic world-making” in the sense that it constructed, through its broadcasts, a utopian alternative for media and their publics.88 Cubans formed part of multiple listening publics as they took in radionovelas replete with ads for Colgate or Bristol-Myers, listened to North American jazz, and remained absorbed in Radio Rebelde’s sounds of 138 e ars
insurrection.89 When Batista finally fled Cuba, and the people of Santiago watched Castro’s men and women occupy that eastern city, those elsewhere on the island listened in. The tale of January 1, 1959, in Havana has been told and written many times. The city erupted in noisy celebration. Headlines like “Havana Street Resounds to Cubans Demonstrating over Batista Flight” invoke the cheering crowds, the honking horns, and the overall din of a celebratory day. But the neglected story of January 2–8, the period between Batista’s departure and Castro’s arrival in Havana, is one of listening and disciplined waiting. “Quiet returned January 2nd to the streets of Havana,” an Associated Press reporter wrote, a quiet “enforced by the rebel leader Fidel Castro’s partisans[,] . . . by the general strike[,] . . . by business immobilization.” But the silence had a mood: “And it was a quiet of expectancy. Most Havanans stayed at home, waiting to swarm into the streets.” They were confined to a single activity: “The Cubans sat and listened to their radios.” From Santiago, Castro broadcast orders to refrain from looting and to await further instructions.90 After Batista’s departure, the radio served as the source of instruction and information regarding Castro’s journey to Havana. In a broadcast he urged calm, instructed businesses to reopen, and gave details as to his whereabouts, apologizing for his delay. According to the press, Havanans demonstrated their fidelity to the cause by following instructions. “The capital was unusually quiet,” wrote Ruby Hart Phillips from Havana. “Thousands of Cubans were gathering along the Central Highway to welcome and cheer the rebel leader, but there were no manifestations in this usually noisy city.”91 The radio authorized action, or more precisely, inaction, in the transition. Six months later, radio proved the most effective guide to shifting expectations for behavior as the new government sought to transform the revolutionary listening public Castro had cultivated into a quiescent supporter of the state. Writing about what she called “government by broadcast,” Ruby Hart Phillips described the extent and reach of Castro’s use of radio and television. Claiming that 95 percent of Cubans had access and actively listened to Castro’s frequent broadcasts (“hardly a week passes when Dr. Castro does not speak to the people with these instruments”), she noted habits of listening and watching. Many people watched television, but even more listened to the radio, which could reach the remotest corners of the island: “Where there are no TV sets, in the jungles of the Sierra Maestra, in the flat ranch lands of Camaguey, among the charcoal burners of the immense swamp called Cienaga de Zapata, and in the tobacco fields of Pinar del Río, the people gather around radios, often battery operated, and listen through the long hours of the night.”92 According e ar s
to Phillips, one of the peasant demands in the early months of revolution was the reduction in price of radio batteries, which were being exhausted at unprecedented rates. Government by broadcast meant that Castro announced government policy and new laws over the air, in addition to requesting support and loyalty. On occasion, his words incited direct action. In July 1959, as Castro denounced President Manuel Urrutia Lleó over the air in a lengthy, heated speech, residents of Havana flocked to the presidential palace and demanded Urrutia’s resignation. By the end of the three-hour broadcast, Urrutia had resigned and listeners were informed that Osvaldo Dorticos had been appointed as the new president. Whatever this says about the nature of governance in Castro’s Cuba, it also confirms that his political strategies depended on the presence of a listening public.93 Castro’s broadcast speeches and televised trials of traitors in the first days of his regime deployed a tool that decades of use by prior politicians had already made powerful.
Radio Wars Activists from outside of Cuba recognized the potential of an environment that was both politically friendly and media-rich.94 The 1959 Cuban Revolution shifted Caribbean geopolitics. Haiti’s Duvalier had made friendly overtures to Batista but remained wary of the Dominican Republic’s leader, Rafael Trujillo. The new Cuban regime was not particularly friendly to Duvalier, and even less so to Trujillo. As early as February 1959, anti-Duvalier activists expelled from Haiti found a new home in Havana and took advantage of the broadcasting possibilities. Déjoie, Jumelle, and Fignolé, the defeated candidates who had tried to generate faithful publics in Haiti, set aside their differences and joined forces to organize antiDuvalier broadcasts from Havana. Three times a week, they broadcast Kreyòl-language critiques of Duvalier’s regime and urged Haitians to join them in overthrowing him. Fignolé, living in Brooklyn, recorded speeches and sent them to Havana for the broadcasts (in the immediate aftermath of the revolution, U.S.-Cuba traffic continued as usual). Rumors and analyses asserted that people in Haiti as well as the sizable Haitian population in Cuba supported these anti-Duvalier activities. Jamaica’s Daily Gleaner, for example, noted that the three politicians had “already begun clandestine broadcasting, warning Haiti’s 4,000,000 Negro inhabitants to be ready at moment’s notice to put down their tools and launch a general strike against strongman Duvalier.”95 Others asserted that this movement also 140 e ars
would prove useful to Castro’s geopolitical ambitions, which entailed controlling Haiti as a springboard from which to overthrow Trujillo.96 This was not the first instance of transnational broadcasts goading Duvalier. In the complicated political moment of 1957–59, rapidly shifting alliances and enmities sounded across national boundaries, as opponents sought to interfere with and destabilize regimes by speaking to publics they imagined would support them. Bernard Diederich, a journalist who remained in the region for many years, recalled the complexity of radio battles in his 1969 book Papa Doc: The Truth about Haiti Today. Exacerbating the tension, and the entanglements, during this early period, a series of broadcasts on La Voz Dominicana, Trujillo’s powerful station, also denounced Duvalier in Kreyòl and suggested that his government was full of communists who posed a threat to the Dominican Republic.97 This media hounding continued when the Dominican station announced a clandestine station operating in Haiti itself and urged Haitians to tune in. Duvalier learned of this station but was unable to find it, despite help from U.S. military personnel, who could say only that it was near the presidential palace. According to Diederich, the station was run by a Cuban friend of Jumelle’s, Antonio Rodríguez, a Castro sympathizer and coordinator of the M-26-7 in Haiti.98 Duvalier countered by muzzling the domestic press and creating his own station, La Voix de Révolution Duvaliériste, whose sole purpose, according to Michel-Rolph Trouillot, was “bombarding the public with radio programs extolling the virtues of ‘The Leader.’ ”99 Observers began to note that a “radio war” was raging in the Caribbean. The complicated politics of revolution and counterrevolution played out over the air, as broadcasts exhorted, denounced, and tried to mobilize. By March 1959, journalists wrote about the region’s “political storms,” whipped up in part by incendiary broadcasts traversing its waters in many directions. “Behind these rumors and counter-rumors there is incessant radio propaganda. Nightly the powerful Caracas radio has broadcast bitter attacks against the Somoza administration. Another powerful station, hidden either on the Honduran or Nicaraguan side of the border, has been broadcasting attacks on Dr. Villeda [Honduran president Ramón Villeda Morales].”100 Notably, as journalists tried to disentangle alliances and enmities during this period, they cast Castro as one of three “democrats” in the region battling three dictators.101 Yet these same reporters predicted ambitious plans for Castro, including taking control of the Panama Canal. In July 1959, not long after a failed anti-Trujillo expedition, La Voz Dominicana was apparently broadcasting in Spanish, French, and Kreyòl, blanketing the region with denunciations of the Cuban and Venezuelan e ar s
regimes, which it held responsible for the overthrow attempt. Moreover, it made its facilities available to Cuban exiles interested in broadcasting anti-Castro appeals, and a few had taken up the offer with “calls for sabotage of power and transportation facilities in Cuba, as a means of ousting Dr. Castro.” The radio war reached “a fever pitch in these hot nights,” as “broadcasts calling for the ouster of Trujillo regime find themselves enthusiastically backstopped by Soviet broadcasts.”102 By August, the anti-Duvalier broadcasts to Haiti from Cuba had ended. But La Voz Dominicana was just getting started, and its reach was broad. On August 10, a report noted that La Voz Dominicana “broadcast an appeal to the Cuban people today to revolt against the ‘Communist’ regime of Premier Fidel Castro by setting fires and killing.” As the year wore on, invasions and counterinvasions met denials and denunciations. The radio wars shifted to clandestine stations. Complicated webs of enmity settled into simpler lines guided by Cold War logic. Castro faced increasing isolation, and the staunchly anticommunist Duvalier demanded and received U.S. military aid. Tourism reinforced these shifts, as cruise ships cancelled stops in Havana and instead called in Kingston and Port-au-Prince.103 In theory, all of this was illegal. The politics of broadcasting and propaganda had come to the attention of several international bodies, which tried to contain it with various measures. A 1958 essay by John Whitton that summarizes many efforts to prevent propaganda—defined as contributing to “aggressive war” or “foreign intervention”—is a repetitive tale of prohibition and provocation. According to Whitton, aggressive propaganda by individuals against states had been prohibited in a treaty between France and Russia as early as 1801, but new media demanded new measures. Radio propaganda was identified as a problem in 1926, but none of the accords forbidding it seem to have held. Some, including a 1936 agreement drafted by the League of Nations that “constituted one of the most comprehensive treaties ever drafted to deal with the evils of broadcasting,” were never implemented. Indeed, Whitton’s article reads mostly as a list of ongoing violations and conflicts over the flow of (mis)information. Haiti and the Dominican Republic appeared on the list of offenders. A dispute brought to the attention of the Organization of American States (OAS) aired Haitian grievances over exiled military officers in Ciudad Trujillo broadcasting hostile messages to Haiti in 1948. The OAS responded by “calling on governments to avoid all systematic and hostile propaganda against one another.” But the OAS declaration only seems to have called out the potentially destabilizing effects of broadcasting, rather than halting the practice. Whitton seemed well aware of this, concluding dolefully 142 e ar s
that “learned writers come and go, with their norms, lex lata and lex ferenda, but the propaganda seems to go on forever.”104 This was prescient, as the radio battles of 1959 and after had only begun. In 1962, Castro was reported to support anti-Duvalier broadcasts in Kreyòl on Radio Progreso.105 And in 1963, Duvalier again complained about hostile propaganda from the Dominican Republic.106 The aim here is not to track each emanation in these ongoing battles of transmitted voices. It is rather to note the way the broadcasters in question assumed a listening public, expectant, politicized, and attuned to the “fever pitch” of radio wars. Radio worked as a political weapon precisely because of its invisibility. Much more than the new medium of television, it was able to remain hidden and reach across national boundaries, as its agility and ability to work without much infrastructure proved an advantage in battles for people’s loyalties. To be a listener in these contexts was to lie in wait, to search and expect to hear something that would sustain fidelity to one cause or another. The fidelity that grew out of listening was to an uncertain and unpredictable but possibly truer voice that might inform, instruct, and guide listeners toward a better future.
Silences This chapter ends with the contrapuntal silences of mediapolitics in Jamaica. In 1958, Premier Norman Manley had proposed and supported the founding of a new station, the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC), modeled after the BBC in its educational intentions. As Radio Jamaica Rediffusion (RJR) had become more commercial, with programming coming mostly from abroad, one of Manley’s aims with the JBC was to use local content and musicians to foster nationalist sentiment. Its broadcasts began in 1959, with founding principles that recalled the romantic utopianism of radio’s early days. It intended, among other things, to “impart objective news information; To demonstrate the vitality of democracy and democratic institutions; To contribute to free enquiry and free speech.”107 Notwithstanding these lofty ideals, the JBC’s most memorable program was Teenage Dance Party, which featured local musicians. Intending to celebrate its version of the Jamaican folk, it also featured programs such as Folk Roots and Branches and Voices of the Caribbean, as well as L ouise Bennett and the Lou and Ranny Show. Initially it attracted many listeners, particularly for Teenage Dance Party. Yet its mission to promote democratic institutions seems to have faltered. Just as Bennett’s critiques of colonial and postcolonial government were dismissed as frivolous and e ar s
insignificant, and she was relegated to the ranks of superficial comics and entertainers, so too did the JBC struggle and fail to gain relevance as a medium vital to political culture. Commentators lamented radio’s minor role in politics and processes of democratization. Trinidadian author and broadcaster Willy Richardson surveyed radio’s present with a mixture of idealism, agnosticism, and frustration. Writing in 1961, he understood radio’s potential to be great: “With care and goodwill, it should be possible in a matter of years to make radio in the West Indies a vital contributor to the educational and cultural development of the nation.”108 As he understood it, “radio [could] play a part in stimulating this sense of nationhood” by “promoting greater understanding of democratic forms and techniques.” But because programming continued to rely on “soap operas and long imitations of jazz,” it had failed to fulfill that possibility. In addition, the termination of Caribbean Voices (which he produced for several years) meant that listeners could no longer hear “their own writers on the local air.” The absence of pride and ownership of the media translated into greater political apathy and drift. In his efforts to prescribe a remedy, Richardson returned to the question of listeners and the problem of audience research. “It is necessary therefore to analyse in greater detail the kind of society that we have in the West Indies today and try to learn what are the needs of the mass audience in the islands and how best they can be supplied. A preliminary undertaking would be a thorough survey of the extent of listening in the region and the reaction to the programmes which it is possible to hear at present.” Anticipating Robert Silvey’s remarks about the elusiveness of the audience, and echoing Walter Benjamin’s observations about “the finality with which a listener switches off the radio,” he meditated on the inherent infidelity of the so-called public: “The problem is that the sophisticated listener is never a captive one and he can always resort to the knob that switches the whole thing off.”109 It wasn’t the case that politics itself was silent. In fact, sound and voice were crucial mediums of engagement and participation. “It is apparent,” wrote an observer on the eve of the 1959 Jamaican election, “that the two mass parties heavily emphasize auditory appeals to such an electorate during campaign time.”110 The most important were what he called stump speeches. Candidates expected that even their written statements appearing in the press would be circulated mostly by word of mouth. The street corner rally was utilized most frequently and to the greatest effect. Often “during election time several thousand party faithful are massed in a large public square, as at Half-Way Tree, and amidst a carnival atmosphere 144 e ars
stand several hours . . . to listen to their party Leaders.” The tone and register of their talk mattered a great deal. “In West Indian politics platform eloquence is sine qua non for electoral success. . . . In JLP [Alexander] Bustamante and Madame [Rose] Leon are outstanding spellbinders. . . . In PNP [Wills O’Gilvie] Isaacs delights the crowd with a frequent lapse into island dialect. . . . Manley himself has an eloquence befitting a university lecture hall.”111 The relationship between citizens and media received more attention on the eve of decolonization. Just prior to the 1962 elections for the first parliament and government of an independent Jamaica, sociolinguist Mervyn Alleyne conducted research on political participation and found a disjuncture between the noise of politics and the marginal role of broadcast media in producing that noise. Alleyne argued in a subsequent article that what he called the “dual language system” prevented “the proper functioning of the democratic political system.” Since most people spoke and experienced life in Jamaican Creole while the language of political discourse and debate was English, democratic participation by the majority would be stifled. Alleyne argued for a spectrum along which most J amaicans communicated and noted their ability to move toward the English or Creole ends of that spectrum in certain contexts. He thus understood, as did politicians, that the latter’s ability to “lapse into island dialect” was key to their success. In this regard, radio had not merely proved disappointing as a promoter of democratic practice, but it actually hindered the process. By preventing speakers from using registers that might resonate more broadly, and through its insistence on “proper English”—so much so that when candidates did occasionally slip into Creole, listeners were “scandalized”—radio had alienated and excluded the majority of Jamaican listeners. Moreover, the medium had failed as a serious arbiter of public discourse. Alleyne argued that people turned to the media in Jamaica for entertainment rather than news or information. At this juncture the JBC had an estimated audience of only 30 percent of Jamaicans compared to the more entertainment-oriented RJR’s 70 percent. Moreover, as late as 1962, the ongoing disparities and inequalities of access resulting from Jamaica’s rugged terrain and uneven distribution of electricity further entrenched what Mimi Sheller has called “fragmented territorialities,” as some zones inhabited a relative media silence, while others buzzed with broadcasts.112 Relative to Cuba or pre-Duvalier Haiti, where commercial radio stations often blasted political speeches, radio in Jamaica was disconnected from electoral politics. Jamaican candidates may have recognized the limits of radio and the drawbacks of media campaigns, opting to spend funds e ar s
on alternative methods of reaching voters. Unlike the large, carnivalesque outdoor rallies, broadcasts of political speeches hailed small, intense listening constituencies.113 By the same token, Jamaican broadcasting lay outside of the radio wars that reverberated throughout the Caribbean during this period. Consumed by federation and the early moments of independence when it did address political issues, Jamaican broadcasting sustained a domestic dialogue rather than reaching out across the sea. The legacies of the British Empire’s media policies and postemancipation social and educational dynamics underlay Jamaica’s muted broadcasting, setting it apart from the voluble Caribbean of the early 1960s. In this context, the prolonged strike of 1964 that effectively silenced the JBC for fourteen weeks speaks to the contradictions that shaped Jamaican radio. Even when broadcasting was deemed ineffective at captivating listening publics, rival parties recognized the potential stakes involved in controlling it. Following the election campaign of 1963, during which Prime Minister Alexander Bustamante of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) targeted the JBC by firing broadcasters and replacing them with ones more sympathetic to his party, the mostly middle-class JBC workers took to the streets in protest. While their microphones were silenced, JBC employees voiced their grievances with handwritten signs and stump speeches. The strike thrust Norman Manley’s son Michael into the limelight, as he took charge of the tactics and orchestrated a series of acts of civil disobedience. With strikers lying in the streets and roadblocks in downtown Kingston’s snarling traffic, the public performances garnered cross-class support. We should not miss the irony of this scenario. The idea of freedom of speech in the media rallied Jamaicans in support of employees of a station that had not created a large listening public for itself. It was not mediated voices but rather bodies in the street that drew the urban audience to the broadcasters’ cause. And after the JBC settled the strike and returned to broadcasting, that public scattered and disintegrated.114 Some of what Partha Chaterjee might call the “nation’s fragments” made forays into Jamaican broadcasting.115 One sad story from this period involved the growing Rastafarian community in West Kingston. Long outside of zones of mediated citizenship, subjected to violence, dislocation, and broad condemnation by the ruling elite, the Rastafarians finally gained a voice on the JBC in 1968. After only a year, however, their weekly one-hour program was shut down. As Rex Nettleford recalls, the broadcasts, sponsored by the “Disciples of the Great King” and the “Sons of Negus Churchical Hosts,” “proclaimed Rastafari to be God, asserted that Jesus was not white, and swore allegiance to the Emperor of Ethiopia.” 146 e ars
The JBC’s manager refused to continue the broadcasts on the grounds that they were seditious, adversely affected racial harmony, and were contrary to the national motto of “out of many One people.”116 As alternative voices that radicalized Louise Bennett’s sonic blackness, Rastafarians were deemed too threatening for the mediated public sphere. As such, this conflict embodied the paradox of publics: they were simultaneously “radical fictions” and so real that they merited policing when some voices spoke to them too loudly.117 In Kingston, as in Havana, Port-au-Prince, Cap Haïtien, Santiago, and Pinar del Río, more and more voices quarreled over and transformed the noise and publics of politics.
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Most radio stations don’t sign off anymore. The sign-off is a convention that developed when broadcasting paused overnight and began again in the morning. Now it is rare, as radios emit music and talk throughout the night and into the dawn. One eerie instance of this occurred during Haiti’s earthquake in 2010. As Port-au-Prince collapsed around the radio station Signal FM, the DJ fled, pausing only to put the music on “repeat.” Somehow, the building survived and for thirty minutes the surreal sounds of “Hotel California” mingled with the thuds and cries of a tragic soundscape. The radio station was one of a few functioning institutions in the early days after the earthquake, and it soon became a source of sustenance as a clearinghouse for information about surviving family members and aid distribution. In one day, the station transformed from a private, profit-driven venture to a public-service provider assisting NGOs, foreign and local aid organizations, and city residents. Today, radio is both the banal creator of incessant noise and a formidable instrument, as I have explored in the pages of this book through the lives of Caribbean people. Despite predictions of its demise with the arrival first of television and then of the Internet, radio remains crucial to everyday life as a deliverer of news, politics, entertainment, and a sense of connection among people of the region scattered throughout the world, seeking livelihoods for themselves and their families. Radio voices continued on after the final moments of this book. It would be impossible to catalog the variety of stations and broadcasts people listened to throughout the region, as political actors of all stripes enlisted radio in the ongoing skirmishes of the twentieth century. In the Duvalier years the airwaves filled with Kreyòl broadcasts from a distance. From Moscow, Radio Peace and Progress ran a daily shortwave program in Kreyòl, written and broadcast by Haitian exiles living in that city. Similarly, Radio Havana included two daily broadcasts in Kreyòl produced by Haitian exiles in Cuba. These programs were understood as participating in 148
a battle for Haitian listeners against not just the Duvalier-controlled media but also two Christian evangelical stations that broadcast in Kreyòl, Radio 4VEH and Radio Lumière.1 These Christian stations directed their broadcasts beyond Haiti as well, as Radio 4VEH reached for listeners throughout the region in Spanish, English, and French.2 The anti-Duvalier radio wars from abroad persisted with Radio VonVon, founded by the antiauthoritarian Haitian Coalition and run by Raymond Joseph, first from Chicago and later from New York City. Between 1965 and 1969, Radio VonVon broadcast talk, music, and news, becoming increasingly pointed in its critiques of Duvalier’s regime. It reported news from within Haiti on new laws and decrees, individuals harassed and killed by the Tontons Macoutes, and corruption. According to Joseph, interviewed years later by Millery Polyné, Haitian market women provided a great deal of this information.3 Few independent voices seemed to speak within Duvalier’s Haiti, with the towering exception of radio announcer Jean Dominique, remembered for his mesmerizing voice and fearless criticism of that regime. Dominique’s story as told in the Jonathan Demme film The Agronomist is one of persistent, audacious reporting until his murder in 2000.4 An agronomist by training, Dominique began his radio career with a series of denunciations of the rice importations that were ruining local farmers. Crucially, his reporting was in Kreyòl, following the language’s incursions into radio as pioneered by Théodore Beaubrun’s Languichatte, Théophile Salnave, and Daniel Fignolé, all exceptions in the mostly French mediascape. As Dominique’s voice began to resonate broadly within Haiti, authorities threatened him and his family. After going into exile and returning to a post-Duvalier country in 1986, he tracked the rise of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and developed critiques of his charismatic regime. By this time, and especially after Aristide’s first forced departure in 1991, Haitian exiles in New York and Miami had created a network of critical voices to fill the space left by the closure of Radio VonVon.5 Cubans carried on their radio battles on several fronts. In addition to the Radio Havana broadcasts prepared for foreign listeners, they used their extensive media infrastructure to ensure that powerful domestic broadcasting could reach into Latin America and throughout the Caribbean. The Cuban government put technicians’ knowledge to work by jamming critical broadcasts emanating from the United States, including the Voice of America, run by Cuban exiles in Florida, and eventually Radio Martí, founded by Ronald Reagan in 1983 to transmit Spanish broadcasts to Cuba.6 In the 1980s, while Cubans were able to jam as many as 200 stations based in the United States, some broadcasts evaded those efforts, and sign - off
many on the island remember listening to American music from stations in South Florida. Meanwhile, official broadcasts directed at Cubans during the revolutionary years carried an array of voices and agendas: early morning and evening Russian language lessons, the voice of Fidel, and frequent reminders of the time on the persistent Radio Reloj.7 In Jamaica, the sonic stakes were high during the 1960s and 1970s. Kingston carried on with two major stations. The government-owned station, JBC, became embroiled in political battles. The rival parties, the PNP and JLP, made it a practice to replace the station’s director and board each time they assumed leadership of the government. In thirty-one years the JBC was run by sixteen different general managers and acting general managers. As former general manager Wycliffe Bennett noted during one of those transitions, “The unvarnished fact is that the JBC has become a political prize.”8 As the rising popularity of reggae changed the soundscape through sound systems in Jamaica and on radio stations in the United Kingdom and the United States, Jamaican governments perceived enough of a threat to ban much reggae from broadcasting stations.9 These episodes confirm the ubiquity of media, its transcendence of ideological division, and its role in the making of habit and affect.10 As evidenced by the popularity of Jean Dominique and the ongoing radio wars between Cuba and the United States and within Jamaica through the 1980s, the radios stayed on, and the volume was high.11 What radio began now spins off in different directions at dizzying speed. Connectivity is one direction: Scholars of the present have begun to reckon with the arrival of the Internet in the region, as the kinds of transformations promised with the acquisition of radio are echoed in observations about digital communications. In 2011, 105 years after Frank E. Butler arrived in Santiago to build a wireless station, another new medium traversed the waters into Cuban territory. The fiber-optic cable from V enezuela was intended to revolutionize Internet access on the island and transform Cubans’ ability to connect with one another and abroad. The distance between promise and practice are analogous to radio’s early years. It was two years before the cable was fully operational, and even then politics and infrastructure have stymied full public access to the Internet. Yet both Ted Henken and Rafael Rojas note, with caution, the accession of new voices into a contested public sphere. The stories in this book offer historical grounding to their arguments about the ways media impinges on habits of listening and modes of communicating across ideological spectrums.12 In the region as a whole, the Internet has expanded potential listening publics. From my home in Vancouver, British Columbia, I can tune in to 150 sign - of f
117 stations from Haiti, 19 from Cuba, and 14 from Jamaica. On the islands, reception of dozens of stations run by émigrés in Boston, Montreal, Miami, Paris, London, or the Dominican Republic depends on the quality of Internet access or the power of shortwave transmissions. Off the islands, Kreyòl-language radio in Montreal or Boston, Spanish radio in New Jersey, and Jamaican DJs in London beam music and news to local listeners seeking to wrap themselves in a media blanket and give their ears a respite from foreign sounds. For those who emigrated from the Caribbean years ago or recently, radio affords an aural connection to familiarity even as it purveys exoticism to others. The mobility of sound creates sonic spaces in which language is not necessarily linked to place, and the transmitter and receiver are bound less and less by space. They continue, however, to be bound by socioeconomics and infrastructure, as media access follows and reproduces inequalities in the region. The Caribbean has both the highest rate of access to the Internet and one of the lowest (in Antigua and Haiti, respectively).13 While I directed most of my attention to the spoken word, music is another proliferating sound in its multiple roles as commodity, national icon, and purveyor of sheer joy that makes people dance no matter their ideological perspective. Music, both very recent and not so recent, circulates much faster and farther with the arrival of the combined energies of the MP3 and the Internet.14 The place of media in dissent, and its responsibility to purvey truth and be accountable, remains the subject of fraught debate. Now more than ever it seems, scholars are pointing to the importance of listening, as an ethic and as a politics. Ian Baucom has written about the relevance of listening in postcolonial contexts. “The novels, films, plays, and histories of the postcolonial are littered with radios,” he argues, and in many of them “the ‘device’ of listening is central to the collective politics of the postcolonial and the diasporic.” Baucom scans the literature and locates examples of the imperative to listen from Frantz Fanon to Paul Gilroy and Caryl Phillips. He finds in their work an understanding of listening that includes relay and retransmission, scrambling and reinterpreting. Broadcasts don’t terminate in the ears of listeners; they pause there and recirculate in widening circuits. He stresses Fanon’s notion of radio as a technique through which to build solidarity, not because it unifies people through essentializing categories but precisely because it allows room for the constitution of solidarity through recognition in moments of listening and retransmission. Whether this drifts into the utopian tones that bathed early radio in rose-tinted light is a question that can only be taken up by listeners. Here I temper its utopianism, not to reject the prospect of solidarity but rather to sign - off
lend it the weight of history. I have aimed to point out that the conditions of colonial, postcolonial, and diasporic listening practices were always molded by power, even if listeners stretched and punched holes in those molds more often than not. My project has been to excavate the ways voices emanating from machines became a presence in everyday life and to render that history a little strange. The work has leaned on and drawn from a body of writing about radio in each of the places I’ve chosen to study. Written in order to commemorate their life’s work and that of their colleagues, books such as Alma MockYen’s Rewind or Josefa Bracero Torres’s Rostros que se escuchan are full of the kind of detail that only insiders can provide.15 Broadcasting also makes cameo appearances in many works on cultural production, urban history, and political mobilization.16 These remain mostly within national boundaries, suggesting that the growth of broadcasting and nationalism were intertwined processes. I have worked to remain cognizant of national boundaries while drawing attention to other aspects that do not necessarily depend on them. They do not undo them either, and this research has worked within an assumption (as made by many others) that the imperial, translocal, and national coexist and in many ways constitute one another. This collection of histories offers a rich diversity of voices and perspectives, wrought from different kinds of archives, including personal memory, the print media, and station archives. One of the challenges in this project was imagining the archive that would yield answers to the questions I was asking about the circulation of objects and information and about the habits and loyalties involved in listening. Another was gleaning material from the scattered fragments of radio’s textual and recorded past. To broadcast means to disseminate, and in many ways the material, textual, and aural archives are as widely dispersed as the bits of sound that traveled for miles in the first half of the twentieth century. In the earliest moments of wireless, for example, military archivists filed material under “communications,” but it was a minor portion of those files, concerned mostly with the construction of roads. The archives of departments of commerce, the post office, colonial governance, engineering and telephone companies, and popular science revealed the multiple ways wireless communication was imagined before it acquired its own classification as radio. Amateur radio operators created extensive collections of calling cards that marked the distance to, and the enthusiasm of, listeners abroad. These and long- distance stamps constitute a detailed mapping of the ways sound bounced around hemispheres, but they are dispersed, held in private collections, or 152 sign - off
were destroyed long ago. Still, amateurs generated traces of their activities in the plantations or venues in which they operated. Stations themselves can be a valuable source, if they keep their records and make them available. And indeed, CMAB’s archive in the Pinar del Río provincial archive yielded a great deal, as did the records of ZQI in the Jamaican national archive. The press has been an ambivalent companion to radio, at times supporting its endeavors, at times understanding it as competition. Across the region, newspapers saw fit to report on radio as news—initially echoing idealistic enthusiasm for the newborn medium, later on reporting on it like a jealous sibling, sometimes with grudging praise, other times with willful neglect, still others with outrage or self-righteous disdain. To follow the broadcasts into people’s homes or public space required taking into account the records of reformist enterprises like the Jamaica Welfare Commission, or drawing on censuses and ethnographies in an effort to understand the use of time and space and the ways radio fit into those changing regimes. In this, looking at the machines themselves led me to the Clark Radioana Collection, gathered less as a systematic compilation of radio-related material (which would be impossible) and more as the amassing of items of personal interest to George Clark, the radio engineer who aimed to write about the many stories contained in his documents. The connections relating machines, materials, aesthetics, marketing, and the place of the Caribbean in the eyes of manufacturers searching for new markets were all present in that collection. The uses of technology as tools of contention were somewhat easier to track, as they provoked the state and activated its policing and archiving functions, bringing them to bear on the (mis)use of communications.17 Additionally, these tactics have left traces in popular memory and become part of romantic narratives of unrest and dissidence. On a Havana street there is a plaque that marks the place where José Antonio Echeverría was killed. In the garden of the city’s Museum of the Revolution, visitors or passersby can see the truck his companions used to storm the presidential palace, complete with bullet holes. And on YouTube, the recording of Echeverría’s thwarted speech is accessible with a simple search. These and other records exist in commemoration of heroic moments (or foolhardy ones, depending on how you narrate them), and they have inserted radio’s past into those narratives. The sounds of radio are ephemeral. Broadcasts were not meant to be saved, and while many stations did record their broadcasts, they often recorded over them or discarded old recordings to make way for new ones. sign - off
The nature of this project was not to catalog content but rather to think about the infrastructures, both material and political, that created the possibilities of content. I wanted also to think about the afterlife of broadcasts and the publics they generated. In some ways it was less important to have access to entire archives than it was to listen to a few significant voices. The marvelous voice of Louise Bennett was one of those. Her range and power spoke to the politics of Creole, blackness, and gender in voice, and it offered a way to write with, rather than just about, sound. Similarly, the recorded and remembered voices of Daniel Fignolé and Echeverría afforded occasions to listen in detail.18 Many opportunities were lost. When conducting research at the National Archives in Jamaica, the archivists shared with me an LP—a recording of the first broadcast of Jamaica’s new station, ZQI, in 1938. But they didn’t have the equipment to play it, or to copy it. More significantly, Jamaica suffered a terrible loss in its sonic archive just after I began my research there. In 2008, as recently appointed caretakers of the Jamaican Broadcasting Corporation archive walked through the vast collection of vinyl, CDs, and videotapes the JBC had collected and used for broadcasts since its inception in 1959, they realized that thousands of vinyl records and CDs were missing. Estimating that up to 80 percent of the collection was gone, they surmised that it had been pilfered over the course of several years, between 2004 and 2007. This sad discovery was followed by an announcement of an investigation and a plea for the missing items to be located.19 Beyond the loss to Jamaican (and worldwide) listeners and the frustration for potential researchers, this disastrous turn of events reenacts the scattering of the sonic archive, in part because of the indeterminate nature of the sources. Are the records and CDs historical artifacts? Are they commodities for resale? Are they part of a national heritage, to be preserved and shelved, or ought they to garner a high price and circulate among aficionados? Fortunately, some archives have been given the care and attention they merit. In the spring of 2014, Michèle Montas donated the radio archive of Radio Haïti, the Port-au-Prince station from which Jean Dominique broadcast, to Duke University’s Rubenstein Library. After the 2010 earthquake, Montas, Dominique’s widow and coanchor for many years, salvaged what was left of the archive from the radio station’s ruins. The decision to donate the station’s archive to Duke was made with the aim of making it accessible to many researchers and thus “advancing the dialogue about Haiti and its future.”20 Literature constitutes one of radio’s richest and most provocative archives. Loretta Collins has noted Kamau Brathwaite’s complex and 154 sign - of f
frequent invocation of radio, both as a site for the voicing of creole languages and as a metaphor for the preservation and retransmission of voices of the dead, the latter a foundational pretext of radio and recorded sound.21 “As Vodun initiates are possessed by loas, similarly, radio voices are channeled by the poet.” Those radio voices, often of women, can connect contemporary personal experience and expression with “ancestories and words that must be listened to, re-imagined, cleansed, loved, and recast hillips’s for future societal healing.”22 Similarly, Ian Baucom notes Caryl P use of sound and listening as a way to conceive of the black Atlantic as a cross-Atlantic listening ensemble, a “ ‘sound system’ gathering within itself the scattered acoustics of the diaspora.” In Crossing the River, Phillips collects and connects sounds in an acoustic timeline: “For two hundred years I have listened . . . to the haunting voices. . . . Listened to: Papa Doc. Baby Doc. Listened to voices hoping for: Freedom. Democracy. Singing: Baby, baby. Where did our love go? Samba. Calypso. Jazz. Jazz . . .”23 In the work of Edwidge Danticat, radio becomes many things. In The Farming of Bones it is the source of Trujillo’s shrieking and crackling justifications of the murder of Haitians on the Haitian-Dominican border in 1937.24 In Claire of the Sea Light, Danticat spins a delicate story in which radio is both the scene of violence and holds people together in their loneliness and their urge to connect to their neighbors. The town’s station is Radio Zòrèy, which means Ear Radio, and the station listens as much as it talks. Louise hosts a radio show on which she asks people to tell their stories: “Tell me, we are ready to hear your story.” At times the stories humiliate members of the community; others times they make them laugh. No matter the effect, her public is consistent and broad: “Sometimes, while sitting in her house writing, on those nights that the show aired, Louise could hear laughter erupt from an entire row of houses. She never even had to turn on her own radio. She could hear the show blasting simultaneously from dozens of houses, and during those moments she felt she was the most powerful person in town.”25 Like the sea, which Danticat describes as having the power to both give and take life, the radio proves dangerous to those who have been seduced by it. For Laurent, one of the station’s most generous patrons, “his eagerness to watch the hosts and hostesses work from the control booth was as strong as his erotic desires.”26 Laurent is shot in the heart just outside the station. The police arrest Bernard, a writer for the station who had fallen in love with radio as he sat in Port-au-Prince’s interminable traffic. Bernard had been planning to capture listeners’ attention through interviews with gang members, known as chimères, or ghosts, and stories of their ghostly sign - off
missing limbs and dead family members, thinking that it would be important to give voice to these ghosts as a way to talk about those who had been “used, then abandoned, because they were out of choices, because they were poor.”27 Bernard is released, but he is murdered the following day. Danticat notes the ironic entanglement of lives, stories, radio, and violence: “The next morning Bernard Dorien was found dead in the bed of his red bedroom . . . an eye for an eye. ‘Another bandit has been erased from the face of this earth,’ began Radio Zòrèy’s morning newsflash. It was a piece that, were he still alive and working there, Bernard Dorien might have been assigned to write.”28 The sea and the radio are constant, “both hostile and docile.” They persist, making the noise of everyday life. And listeners in the Caribbean and elsewhere gather, disperse, and gather again as publics both powerful and illusory.
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Acknowledgments I begin with my family, because they are the most important. Thanking them here is a necessary but inadequate way to celebrate the joy, wisdom, and splendid noise that Nina, Maia, and Alec bring to my life. Acknowledgments often observe that books are a collective effort, and this one is no different. It has changed and grown, and many people have contributed to its final shape. The work began with the assistance of invariably helpful archivists, librarians, and staff at the Archivo Nacional de Cuba, the Biblioteca Nacional José Martí, the Rare Books Library at the University of Havana, the Archivo Provincial de Pinar del Río, the Biblioteca de Pinar del Río, the Archivo Provincial de Santiago de Cuba, the Biblioteca de Santiago de Cuba, the Jamaican Archives and Records Department, the Jamaican National Library, the McMaster University Archives, the Birmingham University Archives, the Smithsonian Institute Archives Center, the library of Radio Metropole in Port-au-Prince, the Bibliothèque de Cap Haïtien, the U.S. National Archives, the U.S. Marine archive at Quantico, the British Archives, the U.S. Library of Congress, and the interlibrary loan departments at Yale University and the University of British Columbia. I have had the pleasure of working with research assistants including Nicole Bourbonnais, Robert Sam Fenn, Cary Garcia Yero, Elizabeth Molnar, and Kate Mooney, who also served as astute and critical readers, and from whom I have learned so much. Jenna Dur and Hanna Smyth contributed with efficient perspicacity. Over the years, colleagues have sent items or tips about things they thought might be relevant to this protean project. Kate Ramsey alerted me to the use of radios in interrogations and sent me down a path that transformed the book. Gillian McGillivray generously shared material from her own research. Leah Rosenberg unfailingly answered so many questions and raised even more important ones. Natalie Zemon Davis, Jorge Giovanneti, Marial Iglesias Utset, Paul Kramer, Blanca Mar Leon, Adrian López 157
Denis, Stephan Palmié, Lara Putnam, Darius Rejali, and Faith Smith and all chimed in at key moments. Special thanks go to Jacklin Jean Paul, who contributed so generously toward the end of the project, and to Thor Burnham, Mel Dominique, and Nadine Dominique, who offered crucial guidance. Jérôme Bacconnier generously provided support with images and translations with a perfectionist’s hand and eyes and immense patience. As the book evolved, the fields of sound studies and radio studies opened up new possibilities and relationships. I am so grateful to Christine Ehrick for countless conversations, references, suggestions, comments, and criticism, and for her patience and consistent good humor. The support of Michele Hilmes and Jason Loviglio has been important in bringing the regional and thematic fields into conversation to one another. Others who are bridging this gap and whose work has inspired me include Gonzalo Araoz, Gisela Cramer, Elizabeth Dore, Julian Henriques, Marc H ertzman, Alejandro Madrid, Jairo Moreno, Ana María Ochoa Gautier, Mary Roldán, Fernando de Sousa Rocha, Karl Swineheart, Alexandra Vazquez, and Andrew Grant Wood. Jon Beasley-Murray, Ross Birdwise, Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier, Lauren Derby, Tom McEnaney, Paul Firbas, Franca Iacovetta, Jochen Kemner, David Luis-Brown, Jorge Marturano, Carter Mathes, Martín Monsalve Zanetti, Steven Palmer, José Antonio Piqueras, Donavan Ramon, and Amparo Sánchez invited me to present work at various stages, created rich contexts of exchange, and pulled things out of the book I didn’t know were there. Presentations at the Max Planck Institute, the Caribbean Studies Association, the American Historical Association, the Society for History of Technology, the Latin American Studies Association, the Haitian Studies Association, the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, the Society for Caribbean Studies, the Canadian Latin American and Caribbean Studies Association, the Surrey Art Gallery, the UBC Science and Technology Studies Colloquium, the North American Conference on British Studies, the Bildner Center at the City University of New York, and the Radio Studies Conference generated more questions and lots of answers. At these conferences, among the many people with suggestions and comments, I’d like to thank Hector Amaya, Imilcy Balboa, Carolyn Birdsall, Ilan Ehrlich, Anne Eller, Mikael Fariñas Borrego, Ada Ferrer, Aisha Finch, Reinaldo Funes Monzote, Gad Heuman, Edwin Hill, Catherine LeGrand, Kathleen López, Yolanda Martínez–San Miguel, April Mayes, Stuart McCook, Michele McDonald, Martin Munro, Melanie Newton, Ricardo Quiza Moreno, Rachel Price, David Sartorius, Rebecca Scott, Araceli Tinajero, Michael Veal, Fernando Vidal, Robert Whitney, and many more. Thanks also to the 158 ack n owl e dgme n ts
editors at Caribbean Studies and Small Axe, and to the anonymous reviewers who reviewed articles that have been integrated into this book. My terrific colleagues here in Vancouver have contributed so much to my thinking and have created a rich and provocative intellectual environment. The students in all of my classes have served up challenging questions, just as I asked them to, time and time again. Thanks to Jon Beasley-Murray, Courtney Booker, Bob Brain, Lisa Coulthard, Joy Dixon, David Eltis, William French, Michael Hathaway, Alexei Kojevnikov, Paul Krause, Kevin McNeilly, David Morton, Carla Nappi, Manuel Piña, Shelly Rosenblum, Alessandra Santos, Lisa Shapiro, Jennifer Spear, Coll Thrush, Tonel, Jessica Wang, and Leslie Walker Williams. David Breen, Anne Gorsuch, and Tina Loo have made the Department of History a stimulating place to work. Danny Vickers has served as a steady moral compass, both skeptical and generous. To Gabriela Aceves Sepúlveda, Jurek Elzanowski, Teilhard Paradela, and Baris Yorumez, who have stalwartly and graciously made their way through early and clumsy drafts, with such care and acuity, I cannot thank you enough. Amanda Bidnall has been a perfect reader and a perfectly delightful interlocutor. Rafael Wainer has offered substantial and perceptive comments many times. Alexander Dawson merits another sentence here, as he is my most constant and critical reader and listener, a model as a writer and teacher, and so much more. This project would not have been possible without the funding of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the University of British Columbia Hampton Grants, the Smithsonian Institution Lemelson Center for Technology, and the Peter Wall Institute for the Humanities. The superb editors and staff at the University of North Carolina Press, particularly Alex Martin, deserve a great deal of thanks. Elaine Maisner, who promised this would be fun, was right. The two readers, of which Kate Ramsey was one, offered generous readings and insightful comments. For Kathryn White, I cannot say enough, for her precision, patience, and for getting what I was trying to do, and for many great suggestions. Much of my family is far away, and so writing about distance, separation, proximity, and voices that travel stems in part from my everyday. José Bronfman and Marisa Bronfman have offered all the love and support I could imagine, as have Janet and Rick Dawson. Marcos, Nuria, Glenn, Max, Henry, you guys are the best. My cousins and the fleeting connections we enjoy have become more significant, and a source of immense pleasure. Allen Sinel, Jaime Bronfman, Colin Walters, and Cruz Gallego are no longer with us, but I am grateful for the ways their voices haunt my days and the pages of this book. ack n owl e dgme n ts
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Notes Abbreviations AHPS Archivo Histórico Provincial de Santiago APPR Archivo Provincial de Pinar del Río BBC Braga Brothers Collection, record group II, series 10a–c, Manuel Rionda y Polledo, box 129, file: Tuinucú—Radio Station at the Plantation, Jones, Frank H. BNA British National Archives JARD Jamaica Archives and Records Department LBC Louise Bennett Collection NARA National Archives and Records Administration NYT New York Times RG Record Group SI Smithsonian Institution, Archives Center
Chapter 1 1. Butler, “How Wireless Came to Cuba.” 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid. 4. “Wireless Flashes Merry Christmas,” New York Herald, December 26, 1905; reprinted in Aerogram, January 1906. 5. George Clark, “Abstracts of the Daily Thoughts of a Great Man,” July 29, 1938, Clark Collection, series 4: Biographies of Radio Personages, box 10, folder DeForest, Lee, correspondence undated and 1918–1947, SI, 3. 6. Bayly, Empire and Information; Adams, Lee de Forest; Winseck and Pike, Communication and Empire; Yang, Technology of Empire. 7. Bright quoted in Ahvenainen, The History of the Caribbean Telegraphs before the First World War; “Miami Barbados Cable: Engineers’ Paying Out Log,” 1920, Collection 205, Western Union Telegraph Company Records, series 15: Engineering Records, 1874–1970, box 563, SI; Starosielski, The Undersea Network. 8. Bright, Submarine Telegraphs, 116–18. 9. Lipman, Guantánamo; Kramer, “A Useful Corner of the World”; Pérez, Cuba between Empires. 10. Adams, Lee de Forest, chap. 2. 11. “Leave for Cuba: President Authorizes the Sending of Expedition,” Colorado Springs Gazette, September 30, 1906; “Yankee Marines Are Killed by the Cuban
Insurgents,” Rocky Mountain News, September 30, 1906; Pérez, Cuba: Between Reform and Revolution. 12. Adams, Lee de Forest. 13. Kramer, “Power and Connection,” 18. 14. Butler, “How Wireless Came to Cuba.” 15. Cooper, Colonialism in Question. 16. Mintz, Sweetness and Power, xv–xvi. 17. Butler, Britain and Empire. 18. Chamberlain, Empire and Nation-Building in the Caribbean; Parker, Brother’s Keeper. 19. Joseph, LeGrand, and Salvatore, Close Encounters of Empire; McCoy and Scarano, Colonial Crucible; Neptune, Caliban and the Yankees; Putnam, The Company They Kept. 20. Pérez, Cuba and the United States; Pérez, On Becoming Cuban. 21. Gaillard, Les blancs débarquent; Schmidt, The United States Occupation of Haiti. 22. Ramsey, The Spirits and the Law; Renda, Taking Haiti; Averill, A Day for the Hunter; Dubois, Haiti. 23. Neptune, Caliban and the Yankees; Pérez, On Becoming Cuban. 24. Pérez, Cuba between Empires; Iglesias Utset, Las metáforas del cambio en la vida cotidiana; Joseph, LeGrand, and Salvatore, Close Encounters of Empire. 25. Scott, “On the Question of Caribbean Studies.” 26. Important exceptions include Gallo, Mexican Modernity; and Ochoa Gautier, Aurality. For the elimination of signs of technological change, see Thompson, An Eye for the Tropics. 27. Bennett, Vibrant Matter. 28. Gitelman, Always Already New; Sterne, The Audible Past; Thompson, The Soundscape of Modernity; Larkin, Signal and Noise; Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. 29. Fanon, A Dying Colonialism, 73. 30. Glissant, Caribbean Discourse, 123. 31. There is an extensive literature on sound studies; what follows is a very select list. Sterne, The Audible Past; Thompson, The Soundscape of Modernity; Hilmes, “Is There a Field Called Sound Culture Studies?”; Kahn, Noise, Water, Meat; Smith, Listening to Nineteenth-Century America; Feld, Sound and Sentiment; Bull and Back, The Auditory Culture Reader; Szendy, Nancy, and Mandell, Listen; Nancy and Mandell, Listening; Attali, Noise: The Political Economy of Music; Erlmann, Reason and Resonance. 32. Brathwaite, History of the Voice, 17. 33. Ibid., 13. 34. Ibid., 18–19. 35. Goodale, Sonic Persuasion. 36. Nancy and Mandell, Listening. 37. Lacey, Listening Publics; Warner, Publics and Counterpublics.
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38. Thompson, “Machines, Music, and the Quest for Fidelity.” 39. Lacey, Listening Publics, 7. 40. Warner, Publics and Counterpublics; Lacey, Listening Publics, 14. 41. Winocur, Ciudadanos mediáticos. 42. Warner, Publics and Counterpublics. 43. Larkin, Signal and Noise. 44. Tilly, Contentious Performances. 45. Sheller, “Virtual Islands.” 46. Henriques, Sonic Bodies; Cooper, Noises in the Blood; Witmer, “A History of Kingston’s Popular Music Culture.” 47. Cavarero, For More than One Voice; Ochoa Gautier, “Social Transculturation, Epistemological Purification, and the Aural Public Sphere in Latin America.” 48. Wallace, “Introduction: Deciderization 2007—A Special Report.”
Chapter 2 1. Mintz, Three Ancient Colonies, 131. 2. Thompson, An Eye for the Tropics. 3. Moral, L’économie haïtienne. 4. Derby, “Beyond Fugitive Speech.” 5. Franck, “Death of Charlemagne.” 6. Laguerre, Diaspora, Politics, and Globalization, 129. 7. Dubois, Avengers of the New World; Fick, The Making of Haiti; Ferrer, “Haiti, Free Soil, and Antislavery in the Revolutionary Atlantic”; Geggus and Fiering, The World of the Haitian Revolution; James, The Black Jacobins; Popkin, You Are All Free. 8. Schmidt, The United States Occupation of Haiti, chaps. 3 and 4; Dubois, Haiti. 9. Inquiry into Occupation and Administration of Haiti and Santo Domingo, 307 (hereafter cited as Inquiry). 10. Ramsey, The Spirits and the Law; Gaillard, Les blancs débarquent; Blancpain, Haïti et les Etats-Unis; Millet, Les paysans haïtiens et l’occupation américaine; Balch, Occupied Haiti; Schmidt, The United States Occupation of Haiti; Renda, Taking Haiti. 11. Weld, Paper Cadavers. 12. Gitelman, Always Already New, 43. 13. Inquiry, 292. 14. Ibid., 301. 15. Winseck and Pike, Communication and Empire; Posner, “American Marines in Haiti.” Posner explains why efforts to build a railroad between Port-au-Prince and Cap Haïtien failed, mostly because of corruption among U.S. companies contracted for construction. This may also explain the absence of a telegraph connection, since telegraph lines usually followed railroad lines. 16. Inquiry, 303. 17. Schmidt, The United States Occupation of Haiti, chap. 5. 18. Butler, 1913–1918—Haiti, box 6, folder 4/6, Correspondence, May–August 1915, Quantico Marine Archive and Library.
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19. Inquiry, 1292. 20. Millet, Les paysans haïtiens et l’occupation américaine. 21. Franck, “Death of Charlemagne,” 25. 22. Inquiry, 1716. 23. Ibid., 1731. 24. Taussig, Mimesis and Alterity. 25. “Notes on the Death of Lawrence Muth, Lieutenant Gendarmerie d’Haïti,” folder: Investigation Haitien Affairs, 1 of 2, box 1, First Provisional Brigade, Haiti, 1918–1921, miscellaneous general correspondence, Haitien Affairs, entry 180, RG 127, NARA. See Ramsey, The Spirits and the Law, chap. 3, for a compelling analysis of the narratives and fantasies that marines constructed and circulated regarding Haitian “voodoo” and cannibalism. 26. Perkins, “Statement Concerning Herbert Seligman,” December 13, 1921, folder: Investigation Haitien Affairs, 2 of 2, box 1, First Provisional Brigade, Haiti, 1918-1921, miscellaneous general correspondence, Haitien Affairs, entry 180, RG 127, NARA. 27. Rippy, “Notes on the Early Telephone Companies of Latin America,” 116. Further research is necessary to build on Rippy’s work. 28. Inquiry, 207. 29. Ibid., 287–88. 30. Ibid., 1304. 31. Daniels, “Radio Set for Landing Parties,” March 21, 1913, George H. Clark R adioana Collection, series 77: Field Portable Receivers, box 264, folder 2, 1906–1922, SI. 32. On the Partido Independiente de Color, see Fernández Robaina, El negro en Cuba; Pérez, “Politics, Peasants and the People of Color”; Helg, Our Rightful Share; de la Fuente, A Nation for All; Scott, Degrees of Freedom; Bronfman, Measures of Equality. 33. Harpers Wireless Book, “Portable Transmitters,” 1913, George H. Clark Radioana Collection, series 72: Field or Portable Transmitters, box 258, folder 3, Field or Portable Transmitters, 1917–1939, SI. 34. George Clark, “History of Portable Field Set Type D Serial No. 19,” n.d., George H. Clark Radioana Collection, series 72: Field or Portable Transmitters, box 258, folder 3, Field or Portable Transmitters, 1917–1939, SI; Douglas, “The Navy Adopts the Radio.” 35. “Field, Portable, or Pack Sets,” n.d., George H. Clark Radioana Collection, series 72: Field or Portable Transmitters, box 257, folder 3, Field or Portable Transmitters, 1901–1941, SI. 36. “Letter of Instructions—Campaign against Cacos,” Butler Papers, 1913–1918, Haiti, box 6, folder 11/6, Correspondence-Haiti, Quantico Marine Archive and Library. 37. Radiogram, Butler papers, box 6, folder 11/6, Correspondence-Haiti, Quantico Marine Archive and Library. 38. As Ramsey has observed, the corvée was an institution already in place when the Americans arrived, but it had fallen into disuse over time. It was established in Haiti’s Code rural of 1864 in order to mandate peasants’ contribution in labor to the
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maintenance of communal roads. Criticized as unjust, it was put into use very infrequently. The U.S. occupation, however, found it a convenient way to garner Haitian labor and revived it. Ramsey, The Spirits and the Law, 203–6. See also Schmidt, The United States Occupation of Haiti, chap. 5. 39. “Letter from Brigade Commander to Chief of Gendarmerie,” October 17, folder: Operations against Hostile Bandits/General Correspondence, 1919–1920, box 1: Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, 1918, entry 173, RG 127, NARA. 40. “Letter to Gen. Williams from Tracy via Joseph R. Wedoy,” October 18, 1918, folder: Operations against Hostile Bandits/General Correspondence, 1919–1920, box 1: Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, entry 173, RG 127, NARA. 41. “Memo from Asst. Chief of Gendarmerie to Chief of Gendarmerie,” October 18, 1918, folder: Operations against Hostile Bandits/General Correspondence, 1919–1920, box 1: Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, entry 173, RG 127, NARA. At the bottom of this typewritten letter, however, someone rewrote the line about Lang. 42. Patrick Kelly, “Letter from District Commander, District of Hinche, to Department Commander, Department of Cape,” October 16, 1918, folder: Operations against Hostile Bandits/General Correspondence, 1919–1920, box 1: Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, entry 173, RG 127, NARA. 43. “Memo from Brigade Commander to Chief of Gendarmerie,” October 25, 1918, folder: Operations against Hostile Bandits/General Correspondence, 1919–1920, box 1: Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, entry 173, RG 127, NARA. 44. Phone message received November 26, 1918, folder: Messages received from Cap Haïtien via Ouanaminthe, entry 173, Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, Operations against Hostile Bandits/General Correspondence, 1919–1920, RG 127, NARA. 45. Transmitted to Lt. Kelly at Cerca la Source via telephone, November 12, 1918, by Capt. Verdier, folder: Messages received from Cap Haïtien via Ouanaminthe, entry 173, Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, Operations against Hostile Bandits/ General Correspondence, 1919–1920, RG 127, NARA. 46. Phone message received November 10, 1918, folder: Messages received from Cap Haïtien via Ouanaminthe, entry 173, Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, Operations against Hostile Bandits/General Correspondence, 1919–1920, RG 127, NARA. 47. Message to Lieut. Vanhorn, Lemielle, November 26, 1918, folder: Messages received from Cap Haïtien via Ouanaminthe, entry 173, Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, Operations against Hostile Bandits/General Correspondence, 1919–1920, RG 127, NARA. 48. Message received November 30, 1918, folder: Messages received from Cap Haïtien via Ouanaminthe, entry 173, Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, Operations against Hostile Bandits/General Correspondence, 1919–1920, RG 127, NARA. 49. Doxey, “Letter from Doxey to Chief of Gendarmerie,” October 24, 1918, folder: Operations against Hostile Bandits/General Correspondence, 1919–1920, box 1: Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, entry 173, RG 127, NARA. 50. Ancrum, “Radiogram to Chief of Gendarmerie,” November 23, 1918, folder: Operations against Hostile Bandits/General Correspondence, 1919–1920, box 1: Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, entry 173, RG 127, NARA.
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51. Lavoie, “Letter from District Commander District of Hinche, to Department Commander, Department of the Cape,” November 26, 1918, folder: Operations against Hostile Bandits/General Correspondence, 1919–1920, box 1: Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, entry 173, RG 127, NARA. 52. Wood, “Memo from Lieut. HR Wood to Chief of Gendarmerie,” November 2, 1918, folder: Operations against Hostile Bandits/General Correspondence, 1919–1920, box 1: Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, entry 173, RG 127, NARA. 53. Kelly, “Report of Patrols from District Commander to Chief of Gendarmerie,” February 1919, folder: Papers taken from files of Dept. Commander at Cap Haïtien marked “Major Wells’ Personal Files,” box 1: Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, entry 173, RG 127, NARA. 54. Doxey, “Memo for Colonel Wells,” March 18, 1919, folder: Papers taken from files of Dept. Commander at Cap Haïtien marked “Major Wells’ Personal Files,” box 1: Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, entry 173, RG 127 NARA. Wells, “Order. Memorandum for Commanding Officer, Hinche,” n.d., folder: Papers taken from files of Dept. Commander at Cap Haïtien marked “Major Wells’ Personal Files,” box 1: Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, entry 173, RG 127, NARA. 55. Memorandum for Dept. Commander G. d’H. for Lieutenant Hooker, March 20, 1919, folder: Messages received from Cap Haïtien via Ouanaminthe, entry 173, Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, Operations against Hostile Bandits/General Correspondence, 1919–1920, RG 127, NARA. 56. Transmitted to Capt. Kelly at Cerca la Source 3:25 pm. February 22, 1919, folder: Messages received from Cap Haïtien via Ouanaminthe, entry 173, Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, Operations against Hostile Bandits/General Correspondence, 1919–1920, RG 127, NARA. 57. Transf. to Lieut. Winfrey at Cerca la Source. March 11, 1919, folder: Messages received from Cap Haïtien via Ouanaminthe, entry 173, Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, Operations against Hostile Bandits/General Correspondence, 1919–1920, RG 127, NARA. 58. From Second Regiment, Hinche to Cap Haïtien, to be radioed to Port-au-Prince, to Brigade Commander, for Signal Officer, April 12, 1919, folder: Messages received from Cap Haïtien via Ouanaminthe, entry 173, Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, Operations against Hostile Bandits/General Correspondence, 1919–1920, RG 127, NARA. 59. “Statement of Sylvain Joseph,” October 8, 1919, folder: Action Reports, box 1: Gendarmerie d’Haïti, 1915–1926, General Correspondence Action Reports, entry 165, RG 127, NARA. 60. Franck, “Death of Charlemagne,” 28. 61. Ibid., 35. 62. McCrocklin, Garde d’Haïti. This may also have been the occasion for the undated phone message: From Wells to Capt. Lavoie at Hinche: “Quote: Department Commander, Cape. Callous yelping congratulate madam Oreste Zamor wipe annual asunder tiny agule reassume distinguish describe such data tiny stirrup help penalty ideal implements tiny trudge provost county board. Unquote Investigate and notify this office.” to Captain Lavoie from Wells, November 30, 1918, folder: Messages relayed
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to and from Cap Haïtien via Ouanaminthe, entry 173, Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, General Correspondence, 1919–20, Operations against Hostile Bandits, RG 127, NARA. 63. Sylvain, Dix années de lutte pour la liberté. 64. Seligmann, “The Conquest of Haiti.” 65. Johnson, “Self-Determining Haiti: I, The American Occupation”; Johnson, “Self-Determining Haiti: II, What the United States Has Accomplished.” 66. Ibid. 67. Schmidt, The United States Occupation of Haiti, 119–21; Blancpain, Haïti et les Etats-Unis; Ramsey, The Spirits and the Law, chap. 3. 68. Inquiry. 69. Bennett, Vibrant Matter. 70. Inquiry, 295. 71. Ibid., 305. 72. Ibid., 306. 73. Balch, Occupied Haiti; Renda, Taking Haiti; Bickel, Mars Learning. 74. Inquiry, 1602. 75. Ibid., 1755. 76. Ibid., 1756. See also testimonies of Pliny Daggett and Frank Verdier, 1756. 77. Trouillot, Silencing the Past. 78. Van Horn, “Statement of Sergeant Lamartine Toussaint, 15th Co., G. d’H.,” October 26, 1918, folder: Papers taken from files of Dept. Commander at Cap Haïtien marked “Major Wells’ Personal Files,” box 1: Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, entry 173, RG 127, NARA. 79. Inquiry, 1789. See also Memorandum from Lieut. Wood to Chief of Gendarmerie d’Haïti, November 2, 1918, entry 173, Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, Operations against Hostile Bandits/General Correspondence, 1919–1920, RG 127, NARA; Letter to General Tracy from Wells, November 25, 1918, folder: Papers taken from files of Dept. Commander at Cap Haïtien marked “Major Wells’ Personal Files,” box 1: Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, entry 173, RG 127, NARA. 80. Doxey, “Memo for Col. Wells,” n.d., folder: Papers taken from files of Dept. Commander at Cap Haïtien marked “Major Wells’ Personal Files,” box 1: Chief of the Gendarmerie d’Haïti, entry 173, RG 127, NARA. 81. Inquiry, 876, 1620. I am grateful to Kate Ramsey for bringing this evidence to my attention. 82. Rejali, Torture and Democracy; and HowStuffWorks, “How Does a Magneto Work?,” http://science.howstuffworks.com/question375.htm; accessed November 13, 2015. 83. Inquiry, 1620. This testimony was taken in 1920, in Port-au-Prince, as part of a hearing run by a judge advocate (see also Toussaint’s affidavit, 1757–58). 84. Ibid., 1758. 85. Ibid., 876. This is testimony given in Port-au-Prince in December 1921 to a committee of visiting senators. Paultre said that the Union Patriotique had invited him to testify. In the following line Paultre asserts that the wire was wrapped around the teeth and thumb.
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86. Rejali, Torture and Democracy; Darius Rejali, personal communication, November 2009. 87. Renda, Taking Haiti. 88. Scarry, The Body in Pain; Dorfman, Death and the Maiden. 89. Both Millet and Bickel, writing from radically opposed perspectives, hint at the use of torture in these contexts. Millet, Les paysans haïtiens et l’occupation américaine; Bickel, Mars Learning. 90. Delbourgo, A Most Amazing Scene of Wonders; Casid, “His Master’s Obi”; Brown, The Reaper’s Garden. 91. Rejali, Torture and Democracy. See also McCoy, A Question of Torture; and Lazreg, Torture and the Twilight of Empire. 92. Ellison, Invisible Man, chap. 1. Thanks to Leslie Walker Williams for this reference. 93. In one of the earliest uses of electrotorture, Chicago police in the 1920s fashioned electric carpets and applied current with wires attached to car batteries in efforts to force confessions out of suspects. These techniques did not include the use of magnetos, however, and they seem to have faded during the 1930s. Rejali indicates that the use of the magneto as a device for interrogation appears in the historical record in 1931, in the hands of the French colonial police in Vietnam. They drew electric current from a variety of devices powered by magnetos, including automobiles, refrigerators, and airplanes. Although the field telephone was ubiquitous, its use as a torture device did not become common until the 1950s. Rejali, Torture and Democracy, 146. 94. Ibid., 162. 95. Inquiry, 1757. 96. Gray, “Cul de Sac,” 42; cited in Bickel, Mars Learning. See also James Delbourgo, “Slavery in the Cabinet of Curiosities,” website of the British Museum (2007), https://www.britishmuseum.org/research/news/hans_sloanes_atlantic_ world.aspx. Delbourgo suggests that the need to find “clean” ways to inflict pain was part of slave-owning practices. 97. See Taylor, Disappearing Acts. 98. Inquiry, 1632. 99. Taussig, Mimesis and Alterity, chap. 14. 100. Casid, “His Master’s Obi.” 101. See Wurtzler, Electric Sounds; and Sterne, The Audible Past, on different uses of technologies in their early versions. 102. Gitelman, Always Already New, 43. Williams, Keywords. 103. Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. 104. Balch, Occupied Haiti; Schmidt, The United States Occupation of Haiti; Renda, Taking Haiti.
Chapter 3 1. Mintz, Sweetness and Power, 43. 2. Benjamin, “To the Planetarium,” 58. 168
n ot e s t o page s 32– 38
3. Funes, From Rainforest to Cane Field in Cuba; Putnam, The Company They Kept. 4. Palmer, “The Banana in Caribbean Trade,” 270. 5. Gleaner, January 1920. 6. Arango Z., Sobrevivientes de las bananeras; Gaspar, Limón; Striffler, In the Shadows of State and Capital; Colby, The Business of Empire; Schlesinger and K inzer, Bitter Fruit. 7. Cutter, “Caribbean Tropics in Commercial Transition,” 505. 8. Ibid., 506. 9. Palmer, “The Banana in Caribbean Trade,” 268. 10. Ibid., 273. 11. Ibid., 271. For recent work on the relationship between capitalism and communications, see Tworek and Müller, “Editorial.” 12. “This Hemisphere Searching for Cheap Labor for Mica,” Science News-Letter, June 6, 1942, 366. 13. Stigall, “Mica from India.” 14. F. G. Cottrell, “Department of Interior, Bureau of Mines: Mica,” December 19, 1919, George H. Clark Radioana Collection, series 60: Loudspeakers, box 242, series 61: Insulators, folder 3, Insulators, 1906–1926, SI. 15. Stigall, “Mica from India.” 16. Benjamin, “To the Planetarium.” 17. Meikle, American Plastic. 18. Electrical Experimenter, “Oxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride,” March 1917, George H. Clark Radioana Collection, series 60: Loudspeakers, box 242, series 61: Insulators, folder 2, Insulators, 1904–1943, SI. 19. Bakelite Corporation, “Fact vs. Fancy: Why 95% of All Radio Manufacturers Use Bakelite,” 1924, George H. Clark Radioana Collection, series 60: Loudspeakers, box 242, series 61: Insulators, folder 3, Insulators, 1906–1926, SI. 20. Meikle, American Plastic, 57. 21. O. W. Caldwell and E. E. Slosson, “Science Remaking the World,” 1925, George H. Clark Radioana Collection, series 60: Loudspeakers, box 242, series 61: Insulators, folder 2, Insulators, 1904–1943, SI. 22. Lee DeForest, “Radio, Past, Present, and Future,” n.d., George H. Clark Radioana Collection, series 5: History of Radio Companies, 1872–1952, box 40, folder 2, DeForest Radio Co.; Press Releases, 1920–1930, SI. 23. Ibid., 4. 24. Ibid., 8. 25. Radio Club of America, Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Year Book, 39, in Gifts and Deposits no. 5, 7/199, JARD. 26. “Radio Fans Try for DX Championship,” Long-Islander, January 29, 1926. 27. Radio Club of America, Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Year Book, 31–33. 28. Ibid., 28. 29. Ibid., 31–33. 30. Ibid., 31–33. 31. Ellis Island Foundation, “Passenger Search,” http://www.ellisisland.org/ search/matchMore.asp?LNM=GRINAN&PLNM=GRINAN&first_kind=1&last_kind=0&
n ot e s t o page s 38– 4 4
RF=91&kind=exact&offset=50&dwpdone=1; accessed November 15, 2011. Further research will be necessary to corroborate this evidence. 32. Gleaner, Who’s Who in Jamaica, 1941–1946, 263. 33. Radio Club of America, Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Diamond Jubilee Year Book, 19. 34. Ibid. 35. NJ2PZ in Kingston, Jamaica, B.W.I. This station, later known as VP5PZ, grew to be one of the most famous amateur stations in the world. Radio Club of America, http://radioclubofamerica.org/rca-history/; accessed October 31, 2007. Radio Club of America, Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Year Book, 39, in Gifts and Deposits, no. 5, 7/199, JARD. 36. Gleaner, Who’s Who in Jamaica, 1941–1946, 263. For more on Grinan’s activities connected to the state, see chap. 4. 37. Banning, Commercial Broadcasting Pioneer, 66. 38. Ibid., 67. 39. Altshuler and Díaz, El teléfono en Cuba; Pérez Salomón, Cuba; O’Brien, The Revolutionary Mission. 40. Banning, Commercial Broadcasting Pioneer, 53. 41. “El discurso del Dr. Zayas por la radiotelefonía,” La Discusión, October 11, 1922. López, La radio en Cuba; González, Llorar es un placer. 42. “Radio: Concerts in Cuba Heard Here,” NYT, October 22, 1922. 43. Kern, The Culture of Time and Space. 44. Lázaro David Najarro Pujol, “Luis Casas Romero: Iniciador de la era de la radio en Cuba,” http://www.upec.cu/baul/27.html; accessed April 21, 2010. 45. Manuel A. Alvarez, “A History of Cuban Broadcasting,” http://www.oldradio .com/archives/international/cuban.html. Accessed April 20, 2010; McGillivray, Blazing Cane. 46. “Notas radiotelefónicas,” La Discusión, November 18, 1922. 47. Jones, “Set-Backs and Come-Backs 6KW.” 48. Thanks to Gillian McGillivray for sharing these materials. Manuel Rionda to Frank Jones, April 17, 1923, BBC. 49. Secretaría to Manuel Rionda, August 29, 1923, BBC. 50. F. F. Griffin to Frank Jones, December 25, 1923, BBC. 51. J. B. Reed to Frank Jones, December 26, 1923, BBC. 52. Jones, “Set-Backs and Come-Backs 6KW,” 372–73. 53. Ibid., 374. 54. “WGY Schenectady Schedules ‘Tune In Tuinucú’ for December 26, 1924,” Enterprise (Altamont, N.Y.), December 19, 1924. 55. “Radio Fans Try for DX Championship,” Long-Islander, January 29, 1926. 56. MR to OD, April 6, 1925, BBC; MR to Jones, April 6, 1925, BBC. 57. Correspondence from October 26, 1926, BBC. 58. “Tuinucú Is Tuning In on WGY Television,” Schenectady Gazette, January 4, 1929. 59. Iglesias Utset, Las metáforas del cambio en la vida cotidiana; Rosenthal, “Spectacle, Fear and Protest.”
n ot e s t o page s 45– 51
60. Iglesias Utset, Las metáforas del cambio en la vida cotidiana; Bronfman, Measures of Equality; Moore, Nationalizing Blackness; Palmié, Wizards and Scientists. 61. Tinajero, El Lector; Warner, Publics and Counterpublics. 62. Pérez, The Structure of Cuban History, 60. 63. “La radiotelefonía en Santiago,” Diario de Cuba, n.d. 64. “La radiotelefonía invade el hogar,” La Independencia, January 10, 1923. 65. Taussig, Mimesis and Alterity; Kern, The Culture of Time and Space. 66. Rath, “Hearing American History.” 67. “La radiotelefonía invade el hogar,” La Independencia, January 10, 1923. 68. Rath, “Hearing American History”; Gitelman and Pingree, New Media; “La radiotelefonía invade el hogar,” La Independencia, January 10, 1923. 69. González, Llorar es un placer, 89–90. 70. J. M. Baquero, “Notas radiotelefónicas,” La Discusión, November 28 and 30, 1922. 71. J. M. Baquero, “Notas radiotelefónicas,” La Discusión, November 21, 1922. 72. J. M. Baquero, “Notas radiotelefónicas,” La Discusión, December 5 and 6, 1922. 73. J. M. Baquero, “Notas radiotelefónicas,” La Discusión, November 28 and December 6, 1922. 74. Marx, “Technology.” 75. J. M. Baquero, “Notas radiotelefónicas,” La Discusión, December 15, 1922. 76. J. M. Baquero, “Notas radiotelefónicas,” La Discusión, November 19, 1922. 77. J. M. Baquero, “Notas radiotelefónicas,” La Discusión, November 24, 1922. 78. Gitelman and Pingree, introduction to New Media. 79. Julián Power, “Torre de Babel,” Carteles, April 1923. 80. Hilmes, Network Nations. 81. O’Brien, The Revolutionary Mission, 227. 82. Wurtzler, Electric Sounds. 83. Social, January 1923, 52. 84. Advertisement, Carteles, December 1922, 26. 85. Advertisement, Carteles, January 1923, 21. 86. Advertisement, Social, November 1924, 75; December 1924, 57. 87. Bohemia, March 18, 1923, 15. 88. Scarpaci, Segre, and Coyula, Havana. 89. Carteles, October 12, 1924, 26. 90. Gutiérrez Lanza, El mago del siglo veinte. 91. Rivero, “Havana as a 1940s–1950s Latin American Media Capital.” 92. Jinete, Cuban slang for prostitute, more conventionally means “jockey” or “rider.” 93. Julián Power, “Torre de Babel,” Carteles, April 1923. 94. Alberto Guigou, “El radio y el amor,” Carteles, May 1923. 95. González, Llorar es un placer, 102. 96. “Wireless to Span Globe,” Gleaner, January 19, 1920. 97. “Work on World’s Largest Wireless Nearly Complete,” Gleaner, January 23, 1920.
n ot e s t o page s 51– 59
98. “The Prince of Wales’ Speech on Armistice Day,” Gleaner, November 6, [no year]. 99. Satia, “War, Wireless, and Empire.” 100. “Colonial Wireless System, Report of the Sub-committee of the Imperial Communications Committee,” CO 323/980/11, BNA. 101. “Readers State Views on Broadcasting,” Gleaner, April 11, 1924, 14. 102. “Wireless Broadcasting Stations, Jamaica Telephone Co. Ltd.,” 1B/5/77/87, JARD. 103. “Introductory Memorandum on Broadcasting and the Colonial Empire,” confidential memo prepared by British Broadcasting Service, 5, in “Broadcasting and Radio Distribution in the Colonies & Policy for Development Of” (1935), CO 323/1338/5, BNA. 104. See chap. 4. 105. “Radio News,” Daily Gleaner, March 31, 1939. 106. Witmer, “A History of Kingston’s Popular Music Culture.” 107. “Broadcasting and Radio Distribution in the Colonies & Policy for Development Of” (1935), CO 323/1338/5, BNA. 108. “Wireless Broadcasting Scheme—Jamaica—Report of Committee,” 1B/5/ 77/205, JARD. In August 1937, Ashenheim once again appealed for a local station, this time on behalf of the Jamaica Gleaner, offering a semiprivate scheme that would generate revenue, but British officials again turned him down. “Wireless Broadcasting Station, Gleaner Co. Ltd.,” 1B/5/77/192, JARD. 109. “Jamaica 1938, Miscellaneous, Sir S. Cripps,” CO 137/823/7, NA. 110. “Outstanding U.S. Radio Programmes to Be Relayed to Island from Cuba,” Daily Gleaner, March 29, 1939. 111. Advertisement, West Indian Review, July 1938, 2. 112. Central Rediffusion Services, Commercial Broadcasting in the British West Indies, 48. 113. Ibid., 53. 114. “Readers State Views on Broadcasting,” Gleaner, April 11, 1924. 115. “Toward a Jamaican Broadcast—Symposium,” Gleaner, January 12, 1929. 116. Gleaner, April 11, 1924. 117. “Toward a Jamaican Broadcast—Symposium,” Gleaner, January 12, 1929. 118. Ibid. 119. “No Sign of Saturation in World Wide Survey,” NYT, September 18, 1927. 120. “Survey Shows Radio Industry Growing in Latin America,” NYT, April 5, 1925. 121. “No Sign of Saturation”; Cooper, Colonialism in Question. 122. “Radio Brings Haiti Closer to America,” Christian Science Monitor, January 5, 1927. 123. “Passengers on World Cruise Listen to American Stations,” NYT, February 13, 1927. 124. Ibid.
Chapter 4 1. Taft, A Puritan in Voodoo-Land, 27. 2. “Profiles: A Gentleman with Two Cauliflower Ears,” New Yorker, April 4, 1925. 172
n ot e s t o page s 59– 6 6
3. Craige, Black Bagdad, 84. 4. Ibid., 72. 5. Ibid., 80–83. 6. Ibid., 36–37. 7. Ibid., 38. 8. Ibid., 88–90. 9. Ibid.; Paravisini-Gebert, Literature of the Caribbean, 27. Renda, Taking Haiti. 10. Tsing, Friction, 5. 11. Ibid., 1. 12. See Emily Thompson and Scott Mahoy, “The Roaring ‘Twenties: An Interactive Exploration of the Historical Soundscape of New York City,” http://vectorsdev .usc.edu/NYCsound/777b.html; accessed November 15, 2014. 13. NYT, January 16, 1927. 14. Hartt, “Broadcasting in Haiti.” 15. This was probably Arthur Lyncée Duroseau, cited in Largey, Vodou Nation, 206, as also having translated creole songs for Harold Courlander in 1940. Craige, Black Bagdad, 140. 16. Craige, Black Bagdad, 140. 17. Leslie Buell, “Black Haiti a Republic of Many Revolutions,” NYT, December 15, 1929; Schmidt, The United States Occupation of Haiti. 18. Hartt, “Broadcasting in Haiti,” 9. 19. Schmidt, The United States Occupation of Haiti; “All Quiet in Haiti; New Marines Help,” NYT, December 10, 1929; “15 Arrested in Haiti for Curfew Violation,” NYT, December 12, 1929. See also Smith, Red and Black in Haiti. 20. Craige, Black Bagdad, 84. 21. “Conversation between Mr. W. H. Walter, of the Associated Telephone and Telegraph Company of Chicago, and Mr. Munro—Mr. Scott Being Present,” April 13, 1929, 838.75/7, Central Decimal Files, 1910–29, RG 59, NARA. 22. Letter from John Russell to Secretary of State, May 22, 1929, 838.75/21, Central Decimal Files, 1910–29, RG 59, NARA. 23. Memo from Mr. Scott, to Mr. Munro, April 29, 1929. 838.75/12, Central Decimal Files, 1910–29, RG 59, NARA. 24. Donald Heath, Letter to All-American Service, Inc., Radio Publishers’ Listeners Official Radio Log, 1932, Records of Foreign Service Posts, Consular Posts, Port au Prince, Haiti, vol. 149, RG 84, NARA. 25. Hartt, “Broadcasting in Haiti,” 5. 26. Ibid., 28; citation is from Taft, A Puritan in Voodoo-Land, 52. 27. Hartt, “Broadcasting in Haiti,” 31. 28. Ibid., chap. 2. 29. Corvington, Port-au-Prince au cours des ans, 7:165–68; Averill, A Day for the Hunter, 69; Jacklin, “Histoire de la radio en Haïti.” 30. Kern, The Culture of Time and Space, 314. 31. Fanon, A Dying Colonialism; Anderson, Imagined Communities. 32. Letter from J. G. Henderson, Export Manager of the L. Hemsley Denton and Company, Baltimore, Maryland, January 4, 1933, vol. 63, Cap Haïtien, RG 84, NARA.
n ot e s t o page s 66– 74
33. Letter from Corey Wood to L. Hemsley Denton and Company, January 16, 1933, vol. 63, Cap Haïtien, RG 84, NARA. The conditions for radio seemed less and less auspicious that year. In April, R. Y. Jarvis, consul, informed Corey Wood, the vice consul, that the free reciprocal radio service that had existed between Port-au-Prince and Santo Domingo would be terminated on the 15th of that month. Letter from R. Y. Jarvis, Consul, to Corey Wood, Vice Consul, April 13, 1933, vol. 63. Cap Haïtien, RG 84, NARA. 34. Statement of Staff Sergeant Harry L. Brooks, enclosed in letter from Corey Wood to Secretary of State, June 10, 1932, Records of Foreign Service Posts, Consular Posts, Cap Haïtien, vol. 61, RG 84, NARA. 35. Letter from Corey Wood to Secretary of State, October 3, 1932, Records of Foreign Service Posts, Consular Posts, Cap Haïtien, vol. 61, RG 84, NARA. 36. Anderson, Imagined Communities. 37. Rivero, “Havana as a 1940s–1950s Latin American Media Capital,” 279. 38. López, La radio en Cuba; González, Llorar es un placer. 39. López, La radio en Cuba; González, Llorar es un placer; González, El más humano de los autores. 40. Pérez, Cuba under the Platt Amendment; Whitney, State and Revolution in Cuba. 41. Ravelo, Páginas de ayer, 165. 42. Ibid., 165–66. 43. Ibid., 171. 44. Ibid., 171. 45. Hall, “David Scott.” 46. Scott, Conscripts of Modernity. 47. NYT, March 3 and 7, 1934. 48. NYT, March 8, 1934. 49. NYT, March 11, 1934. 50. NYT, March 9, 1934. 51. NYT, March 13, 1934. 52. “Expediente instruido contra José María Blanco, por cometer un delito contra la estabilidad de la república consistente en un sabotaje a los alambres que dan al centro telefónico—interrumpiendo completamente el servicio, 23 marzo al 23 abril, 1934.” Tribunal de Defensa Nacional, “Juicios establecidos por sabotajes y terrorismos,” Fondo Audiencia de Oriente, AHPS. 53. NYT, July 25, 1934. 54. NYT, August 9, 1934. 55. NYT, August 13, 1934. 56. “Expediente relacionado con la detención de José Antonio Pascual por acatar como bueno el movimiento de huelga de empleados de comunicaciones.” Tribunal de Urgencia, “Juicios establecidos por huelgas: 13 agosto al 13 septiembre, 1934,” Fondo Audiencia de Oriente, AHPS. 57. Ibid. 58. “Expediente que trata de la causa contra Ángel Aguilera Báez, por penetrar en la oficina de correos y extraer tres clavijas de contacto, con el fin de impedir que los empleados trabajaran con motivo de la huelga de comunicaciones.” Tribunal de 174
n ot e s t o page s 75– 82
Urgencia, “Juicios establecidos por huelgas: 13 agosto al 10 septiembre, 1934,” Fondo Audiencia de Oriente, AHPS. 59. Putnam, Radical Moves. 60. Holt, The Problem of Freedom; Post, Arise Ye Starvelings. 61. Phelps, “Rise of the Labour Movement in Jamaica”; Gray, “Predation Politics and the Political Impasse in Jamaica”; Scott, “Political Rationalities of the Jamaican Modern”; Palmer, Freedom’s Children. 62. On the state’s reluctance to spend money in the colonies, see Holt, The Problem of Freedom, epilogue; and Headrick, The Invisible Weapon. 63. Letter from Vice-Admiral to Acting Governor, Jamaica, August 8, 1934, “ Wireless-Telegraph Trials—H.M. Ships and Amateur Experts in Jamaica,” 1B/5/77/252, JARD. 64. “Wireless-Telegraph Trials—H.M. Ships and Amateur Experts in Jamaica,” 1B/5/77/252, JARD; “Colonial Wireless System, Report of the Sub-committee of the Imperial Communications Committee,” CO 323/980/11, BNA. 65. Letter to Captain of HMS Orion from Acting Colonial Secretary, August 3, 1938, “Wireless-Telegraph Trials—H.M. Ships and Amateur Experts in Jamaica,” 1B/5/77/252, JARD. 66. Jamaica Post Office, Jamaica Annual Report of the Post Office for the Year Ended 31st March 1939, 4. 67. “Broadcasting on the Island,” Daily Gleaner, March 20, 1940. 68. “Wireless Expert Leaves for USA,” Daily Gleaner, May 10, 1940; “Silver Jubilee of Public Broadcasting in Jamaica,” Daily Gleaner, November 17, 1964. Martín Barbero, Communication, Culture and Hegemony. 69. Schoonover, Hitler’s Man in Havana, chap. 1. 70. “Expediente que trata de la causa que se instruyó contra Domingo Gordin, por tener una estación de radio pirata, para que determinados elementos totalitarios se comunicaran con naciones extranjeras como Alemania y otros países fascistas.” Sala de Urgencia, “Juicios establecidos contra la estabilidad de la República,” Fondo Audiencia de Santiago, AHPS. 71. Ibid., 12–14. 72. Ibid., 22. 73. Ibid. 74. Ibid., 26. 75. Ibid., 36. 76. Ibid., 41. 77. Ibid., 62. 78. Letter from Edward Sparks to the Secretary of State, October 16, 1940, 800.20210/603, box 3129, State Department Decimal File, 1940–44, RG 59, NARA. 79. Memo from J. Kenly Bacon, October 16, 1940, 800.20210/603, box 3129, State Department Decimal File, 1940–44, RG 59, NARA. 80. Letter from Edward Sparks to the Secretary of State, October 16, 1940, 800.20210/603, box 3129, State Department Decimal File, 1940–44, RG 59, NARA. 81. Memo from J. Kenly Bacon, October 16, 1940, 800.20210/603, box 3129, State Department Decimal File, 1940–44, RG 59, NARA.
n ot e s t o page s 82– 88
82. Memo from Ferdinand Mayer to Secretary of State, March 6, 1940, 800.20210/ 491, State Department Central Files, 1940–44, box 3128, RG 59, NARA. 83. Memo no. 1185, “Political Arrests in Haiti,” 838/3550, RG 151, NARA. 84. For anti-Vincent positions and activity, see Smith, Red and Black in Haiti.
Chapter 5 1. Louise Bennett, “Boo,” in Bennett, Jamaica Labrish, 143. On Bennett, see Cooper, “ ‘West Indies Plight’ ”; “Giving Miss Lou Lip Service,” Jamaica Gleaner, September 11, 2011; Adisa, “Culture and Nationalism on the World Stage”; Morris, Miss Lou; Jarrett-Macauley, The Life of Una Marson; Narain, Contemporary Caribbean Women’s Poetry; Nettleford, introduction to Bennett, Jamaica Labrish; and Edmondson, Caribbean Middlebrow, chap. 3. 2. Vazquez, Listening in Detail. 3. During this period the terms patois, Creole, and dialect were used interchangeably in Jamaica. I will use creole to refer to the general category, and Creole and Kreyòl for the Jamaican and Haitian versions, respectively, but I have not imposed these terms on the cited material. See Brathwaite, History of the Voice, for a discussion of the politics of these terms. 4. Holt, The Problem of Freedom; Post, Arise Ye Starvelings; Bogues, “Politics, Nation and PostColony”; Scott, “Political Rationalities of the Jamaican Modern”; Dalleo, “The Public Sphere and Jamaican Anticolonial Politics.” 5. Smith, Red and Black in Haiti, 2. 6. The most elegant example of this literature is Hirschman, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty. 7. Barthes, “The Grain of the Voice.” 8. Cavarero, For More than One Voice. 9. Ochoa Gautier, “Social Transculturation, Epistemologies of Purification and the Aural Public Sphere in Latin America.” 10. Smith, Listening to Nineteenth-Century America; Cavarero, For More than One Voice; Weheliye, Phonographies; Dolar, A Voice and Nothing More; Goodale, Sonic Persuasion; Ehrick, Radio and the Gendered Soundscape. 11. Brathwaite, History of the Voice, 13. 12. Price-Mars, So Spoke the Uncle, 25. 13. Brathwaite, History of the Voice, 17. 14. Price-Mars, So Spoke the Uncle, 25. 15. Trouillot, Silencing the Past; Brathwaite, History of the Voice, 14. 16. Weheliye, Phonographies; Weheliye, “Engendering Phonographies.” 17. Brathwaite, History of the Voice, 17. 18. Rex Nettleford, introduction to Bennett, Jamaica Labrish, 16. 19. Barthes, “The Grain of the Voice.” 20. I am not tracing creole languages per se. I am assuming that people spoke (and speak) them widely, that they were and are widespread, vibrant languages with deep roots.
n ot e s t o page s 89– 9 5
21. Barrow, “Edith Clarke,” 16. 22. Carnegie, “The Fate of Ethnography,” 15. 23. Morris, Miss Lou, 16–23. 24. Interview with Mary Jane Hewitt, box 6, folder 1, LBC, 6–9. 25. Smith, Red and Black in Haiti; Ramsey, The Spirits and the Law. 26. Sylvain, Le créole haïtien; Faine, Philologie créole. 27. Smith, Red and Black in Haiti, 48–52. Kate Ramsey, personal communication. 28. Ramsey, The Spirits and the Law, 214. 29. Ibid., 215. 30. This would happen with music as well as spoken word. Songs, like stories, were items to be collected. With the advent of recording technology, this became a more viable practice. Averill, “Ballad Hunting in the Black Republic.” 31. Averill, “Haitian Dance Bands.” 32. Cornevin, Le théâtre haïtien; Bennett and Bennett, The Jamaican Theater. 33. Morriseau-Leroy, “Félix Morriseau-Leroy.” 34. Cornevin, Le théatre haïtien, 142. 35. Morriseau-Leroy, in Cornevin, Le théâtre haïtien, 201–3. See also Dillon, New World Drama. 36. Clark, “When Womb Waters Break,” 782. 37. Ibid.; “Theodore Beaubrun, 79, Haitian Comic and Actor,” NYT, July 2, 1998. 38. Brathwaite, History of the Voice, 27. 39. “On a Tramcar,” “Miss Lulu Sez,” Daily Gleaner, 1949; as quoted in Mervyn Morris, introduction to Bennett, Selected Poems. 40. Interview with Mary Jane Hewitt, LBC, 3–5. 41. Ibid., 1–5. 42. See also Natalie Davis’s “Creole Languages and Their Uses,” in which she notes the limits of violence as manifest in creole dictionaries, understood as necessary for communication with slaves. This is not to deny the oppressive origins of creole languages but rather to argue that technologies for inscription are necessary for subtler forms of interaction, though they may and often did perpetuate systemic features of slavery. 43. Cramer and Prutsch, “Nelson A. Rockefeller’s Office of Inter-American Affairs and Record Group 229”; Cramer, “How to Do Things with Waves.” 44. Letter to Nelson Rockefeller, November 16, 1942, File “Special Radio Programs,” box 1405, entry E-114, vol. 8, RG 229, NARA. 45. Letter to Nelson Rockefeller, June 10, 1943, File “Radio Correspondence Outgoing,” box 1402, entry E-114, vol. 1, RG 229, NARA. 46. Letter from Joseph Montllor to Nelson Rockefeller, June 26, 1944, File “Radio Correspondence Outgoing,” box 1402, entry E-114, vol. 1, RG 229, NARA. The use of the sound truck in Haiti has received little attention. For Jamaica, see Stolzoff, Wake the Town and Tell the People. 47. Griffith, “Deconstructing Nationalisms,” 1; Rush, Bonds of Empire. 48. Griffith, “Deconstructing Nationalisms,” 15. 49. Bogues, “Politics, Nation, and PostColony,” 15; emphasis mine.
n ot e s t o page s 95–10 2
50. “Memorandum of Communications and Transport for Presentation to Royal Commission, submitted by the Electrical Inspector, October 1938” (285–1938), 1B/5/77, JARD. 51. ZQI Log Book, Gifts and Deposits, 7/199, no. 1, JARD. 52. ZQI Log Book, 1935–41, Gifts and Deposits, 7/199, no. 1, JARD. 53. Central Rediffusion Services, Commercial Broadcasting in the British West Indies, 48. 54. Central Rediffusion Services, Commercial Broadcasting in the British West Indies, 53. 55. Cumper, Preliminary Analysis of Population Growth and Social Characteristics in Jamaica. 56. Bronfman, “El Naciente Público Oyente”; López, La radio en Cuba; González, Llorar es un placer. 57. See, for example, de Lisser, In Jamaica and Cuba, on the contrasting uses of public space in Havana and Kingston. I am grateful to Faith Smith for bringing this reference to my attention. 58. J. E. Newlin, letter to D. T. M. Girvan, January 21, 1946, Jamaica Social Welfare Commission (JSWC), 828: Small Radio Sets, 1945, Semi-public 3/24, JARD. 59. ZQI Log Book, 1935–41, Gifts and Deposits, 7/199, no. 1; April–October 1941, vols. 6–8, 1944–1947, 1B/5/99, JARD. 60. Ibid. 61. Morris, Miss Lou. 62. Figueroa, Caribbean Voices, vol. 2, 85, 103–4. Bennett’s poems were always read by male voices. 63. De Camp, “The Field of Creole Language Studies.” 64. Cassidy and Le Page, Dictionary of Jamaican English. 65. Joan Huston Hall, “Frederic Gomes Cassidy, October 10, 1907–June 14, 2000,” 7. 66. Le Page, “The Language Problem of the British Caribbean,” 45. 67. Ibid. 68. “Snobbery,” Daily Gleaner, June 27, 1947. 69. “Letter to the Editor: Dialect and Colour,” Daily Gleaner, November 27, 1952. 70. “DeSouza Meets Barbados Press,” Daily Gleaner, October 12, 1956. 71. “View Labour Has Edge: Unusual,” Daily Gleaner, September 17, 1957. 72. “Teaching English in Jamaica: A Hopeless Muddle, Says Rosemary Evans,” Sunday Gleaner, August 14, 1960. 73. “Four Steps to Better English” (letter to the editor), Sunday Gleaner, August 28, 1960. 74. Prof. F. G. Cassidy, “Studying Our Language,” Sunday Gleaner, September 13, 1959. 75. Hall, “Frederic Gomes Cassidy, October 10, 1907–June 14, 2000,” 2. 76. Audio from Miss Lou (Part 3), “Jamaica Language,” mp3 https://www.youtube .com/watch?v=0ZjPeMGiOpk; accessed April 10, 2013. 77. Adisa, “Culture and Nationalism on the World Stage”; Edmondson, Caribbean Middlebrow, chap. 3.
n ot e s t o page s 103– 9
78. Johnson, “Haiti as a Laboratory for Cultural Research,” 254. 79. Ibid., 264. 80. Jourdain, “Creole,” 29. 81. Ibid., 30. 82. Efron, “French and Creole Patois in Haiti”; Wilson, “Unesco at Marbial.” 83. Smith, Red and Black in Haiti, 72. 84. Ibid., 81. 85. Ibid., 75 86. Ibid., 94. 87. Smith, personal communication. 88. Désinor, Daniel Fignolé, 33. 89. Ibid., 146. 90. Benjamin, “Reflections on Radio.” 91. “The Radio Franchise,” Daily Gleaner, June 21, 1949. 92. Ibid. 93. Stolzoff, Wake the Town and Tell the People. See also Henriques, Sonic Bodies. 94. Wood Park, Bagnolds Spring, Pembroke Hall, copy of minutes of annual meeting, July 9, 1952, JSWC 1365: Affiliated Centres, Semi-public 3/24, JARD. 95. Report of the Wood Park Community Association for August to October 1953, Scott’s Run, April–June 1953, JSWC, 1365: Affiliated Centres, Semi-public 3/24, JARD. 96. Report of the Trinityville Community Centre, dated December 28, 1952, JSWC, 1365: Affiliated Centres, Semi-public 3/24, JARD. 97. Meeting of the Jamaica Agricultural Society, Information Committee, July 9, 1952, item 6, JSWC: 3/24/914, Semi-public 3/24, JARD. See also Edmondson, Caribbean Middlebrow; Central Rediffusion Services, Commercial Broadcasting in the British West Indies. 98. Clarke, My Mother Who Fathered Me, 147. 99. Ibid., 148. 100. Ibid., 148. 101. Lucius Watson, interview, in Bryan and Watson, Not for Wages Alone, 73. Bronfman, “Birth of a Station.” 102. Gleaner, September 13, 1959. 103. See Edmondson, Caribbean Middlebrow, chap. 3, for an astute discussion of the critical reception of Louise Bennett’s work. 104. Cooper, “ ‘West Indies Plight,’ ” 222. 105. Alleyne, “Communication and Politics in Jamaica.” 106. Price-Mars, So Spoke the Uncle, 25.
Chapter 6 1. De la Fuente, A Nation for All; Bronfman, Measures of Equality; Guridy, Forging Diaspora; Fernández Robaina, El negro en Cuba. 2. This description draws from Oscar Luis López’s account in La radio en Cuba, 416–17.
n ot e s t o page s 110– 17
3. Lacey, Listening Publics, 6. 4. Warner, Publics and Counterpublics. 5. “The Talking Phonograph,” Scientific American, December 22, 1877; cited in Thompson, “Machines, Music, and the Quest for Fidelity.” 6. Thompson, “Machines, Music, and the Quest for Fidelity”; Lastra, “Fidelity versus Intelligibility.” 7. Thompson, “Machines, Music, and the Quest for Fidelity,” 160; Gitelman, Always Already New. 8. George H. Clark, “Suggested Names for Loud Speaker,” September 2, 1922, George H. Clark Radioana Collection, series 60: Loudspeakers, box 242, folder 1, Loudspeakers, 1922–1946, SI. 9. See Lastra, “Fidelity versus Intelligibility,” on the range of aspirations for early sound reproduction. 10. Adorno, Current of Music, 349. 11. “RCA Loudspeaker Ad,” 1930, George H. Clark Radioana Collection, series 60: Loudspeakers, box 241, folder 2A, 1896–1937, SI. 12. “Facts about the Hewlett,” 1928, George H. Clark Radioana Collection, series 60: Loudspeakers, box 241, folder 2A, 1896–1937, SI. 13. Ibid. 14. RCA, “Loudspeaker Assembly Plant,” 1929, George H. Clark Radioana Collection, series 60: Loudspeakers, box 242, folder 1, Loudspeakers, 1922–1946, SI. 15. Correspondencia recibida, October 31, 1950, expediente 69, legajo 9, Fondo CMAB, APPR. 16. Winocur, Ciudadanos mediáticos. For examples of this dynamic in the United States, see Igo, The Averaged American; and Razlogova, The Listener’s Voice. 17. In 1930 the following cities had stations: Mariel, Hershey, Santiago de las Vegas, Marianao (4), Guanabacoa, Colón, Matanzas (3), Cienfuegos, Sagua la Grande, Tuinucú, Caibarién, Santa Clara, Camajuaní, Camagüey (2), Ciego de Ávila (2), Santiago (2). López, La radio en Cuba, appendix 4. 18. By 1948 a total of fifty-three new stations had appeared in Cuba, scattered throughout cities and towns. López, La radio en Cuba, appendix 5. 19. Letter from Federación de Radioemisoras de Cuba, December 1942, expediente 6, legajo 2, Fondo CMAB, APPR. 20. López, La radio en Cuba, 197–98. 21. Circulares y resoluciones, expediente 1, legajo 1, 1941–1942, Fondo CMAB, APPR. 22. Correspondencia enviada, expediente 10, legajo 3, p. 91, 1943, Fondo CMAB, APPR. 23. Correspondencia recibida, expediente 3, legajo 2, June 27—December 28, 1942. Fondo CMAB, APPR. 24. Salwen, Radio and Television in Cuba; Winocur, Ciudadanos mediáticos. 25. “Dos años de un programa radial: Lo que pasa en Pinar del Río lo escucha el 97% de oyentes,” Pinar del Río: El órgano oficial del comité Todo por Pinar del Río, year 1, no. 4 (August 1947): 12; “Cuatro años de éxito del noticiero Lo que pasa en
n ot e s t o page s 118– 2 3
Pinar del Río,” Pinar del Río: El órgano oficial del comité Todo por Pinar del Río, year 2, no. 21 (May 1949): 22. Given the critiques of statistical evidence presented in this chapter, I report these numbers without necessarily trusting them. 26. “Dos años de un programa radial: Lo que pasa en Pinar del Río lo escucha el 97% de oyentes,” Pinar del Río: El órgano oficial del comité Todo por Pinar del Río, year 1, no. 4 (August 1947): 12. 27. Correspondencia recibida, expediente 130, legajo 11, February 1952, Fondo CMAB, APPR. 28. Darnton, “An Early Information Society.” 29. Correspondencia recibida, expediente 61, legajo 9, November 11, 1950, Fondo CMAB, APPR. 30. Noticiero, expediente 130, legajo 11, Fondo CMAB, APPR. 31. Noticiero, expediente 67, legajo 9, November 14, 1950, Fondo CMAB, APPR. 32. Correspondencia recibida, expediente 61, legajo 9, November 11, 1950; Noticiero, October 31, 1951, expediente 69, legajo 9, Fondo CMAB, APPR. 33. Expediente 67, legajo 9, October 17, 1950, Fondo CMAB, APPR. 34. Correspondencia recibida, expediente 113, legajo 10, October 30, 1951, Fondo CMAB, APPR. 35. Denie Valdés, La radio en Pinar del Río en sus 70 años, 42. 36. Lacey, Listening Publics, chap. 6. 37. Silvey, Who’s Listening?; López, La radio en Cuba. 38. Igo, The Averaged American; Silvey, Who’s Listening? 39. Igo, The Averaged American, 8. 40. Ibid., 12. 41. Cantril and Allport, The Psychology of Radio, 85. 42. Igo, The Averaged American; Adorno, Current of Music. 43. López, La radio en Cuba, 414–15. 44. Silvey, Who’s Listening?, 179. This is a quote from a 1966 speech, “The Measurement of Audiences.” 45. In many ways Jamaica exemplified Hilmes’s claims about hybridity in broadcasting models. Hilmes, Network Nations. 46. Rediffusion was a system of broadcasting that relied on wires and rented loudspeakers to deliver broadcasts to people’s homes. In a place like Jamaica, this improved reception as it avoided the problems of terrain. In addition, it was understood as a less expensive option; subscriptions were cheap relative to the cost of purchasing receivers. See Central Rediffusion Services, Commercial Broadcasting in the West Indies. 47. Ibid., 68. 48. Silvey, Who’s Listening?, 179. 49. López, La radio en Cuba, 429–31. 50. Ibid., 433. 51. “Copia mecanografiada de la alocución de José Antonio Echeverría por Radio Reloj comunicándole al pueblo el ataque por parte del Directorio Revolucionario al palacio nacional,” Fondo Especial, legajo 3, no. 30, Archivo Nacional de Cuba. The
n ot e s t o page s 1 23– 30
historiography of 1950s Cuba is very extensive. This following list of works is by no means comprehensive but rather selects from a range of traditions and perspectives: Pérez-Stable, The Cuban Revolution; Sweig, Inside the Cuban Revolution; Suchlicki, Cuba; Ibarra, Prologue to Revolution; Instituto de Historia de Cuba, Historia del movimiento obrero cubano. 52. “La toma de Radio Reloj el 13 de marzo de 1957,” http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=4oe9nqR_oB8&playnext_from=TL&videos=ZOrIJakh8Kg; accessed November 15, 2010. 53. Bonachea and San Martín, The Cuban Insurrection; Chomón, “El ataque al palacio presidencial.” 54. Bonachea and San Martín 1974; Chomón, “El ataque al palacio presidencial”; García Oliveras, “La operación Radio-Reloj.” 55. “Cuban Resentment to Batista Rule Explodes,” Christian Science Monitor, March 14, 1957, 14. 56. “Batista Decries Killing of ‘Fools,’ ” NYT, March 14, 1957; Bonachea and San Martín, The Cuban Insurrection. 57. This account is a composite summary of articles in the New York Times and Christian Science Monitor, March 14, 1957, and Prensa Libre, March 13–15, 1957. 58. Anillo, “La Federación Estudiantil Universitaria en el periodo de 1951–1957.” 59. Bonachea and San Martín, The Cuban Insurrection, 55; Anillo, “La Federación Estudiantil Universitaria en el periodo de 1951–1957,” 132; El Mundo, December 6, 1955; Diario de la Marina, December 6, 1955. 60. El Mundo, December 6, 1955; Nuiry Sánchez, ¡Presente!, n96. 61. Anillo, “La Federación Estudiantil Universitaria en el periodo de 1951–1957,” 130. 62. Ameringer, The Cuban Democratic Experience, chap. 9; Ehrlich, Eduardo Chibás. 63. Ameringer, The Cuban Democratic Experience, 155. 64. López, La radio en Cuba, 128–29; Carteles, 1959. 65. Bonachea and San Martín, The Cuban Insurrection, chap. 6. 66. Sweig, Inside the Cuban Revolution. 67. Ibid.; Pérez, Cuba: Between Reform and Revolution. 68. Herbert Matthews, “Cuban Rebel Is Visited in Hideout: Castro Is Still Alive and Still Fighting in Mountains,” NYT, February 24, 1957; DePalma, The Man Who Invented Fidel; Phillips, Cuba. 69. Herbert Matthews, “Cuban Rebel Is Visited in Hideout: Castro Is Still Alive and Still Fighting in Mountains,” NYT, February 24, 1957”; Matthews, “Radiografía de la situación cubana” (translated by Carlos Castañeda), Bohemia, March 10, 1957; Nuiry Sánchez, ¡Presente!, 125. 70. Phillips, Cuba. 71. Hart, Aldabonazo, 174. 72. “Cuba Suppresses Youths’ Uprising; Forty Are Killed,” NYT, March 14, 1957. 73. Lacey, Listening Publics; Szendy, Nancy, and Mandell, Listen. 74. “Haiti Is Disrupted by Political Crisis,” NYT, April 30, 1957.
n ot e s t o page s 131 – 36
75. “Haiti Bans Free Speech and Muzzles Press and Radio to Check ‘Terror,’ ” Washington Post, May 16, 1957. At this point, the accusations flew against Déjoie and Fignolé, the skilled orator, as the main promotors of censorship. 76. “Dissidents Seize Key Ports in Haiti,” NYT, May 17, 1957. 77. Claude Moïse, Le Matin (2007); cited in Saint Paul, “Patrimonialismo,” 188. 78. “Haitian Life Near Normal under Fignolé,” Washington Post, May 28, 1957. 79. “50 Reported Dead in Haiti Violence,” NYT, June 17, 1957. 80. “Cable Cutoff Clouds Haiti Disorders,” Christian Science Monitor, June 17, 1957. 81. “50 Reported Dead in Haiti Violence,” NYT, June 17, 1957. 82. Vidaillet, “Violations of Freedom of the Press in Cuba.” 83. “Letters to the Editor: Radio Reception,” Daily Gleaner, September 25, 1957. 84. Sweig, Inside the Cuban Revolution; Soley and Nichols, Clandestine Radio Broadcasting. 85. Guevara, Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War; Franqui, Diary of the Cuban Revolution. 86. Don Moore, “Revolution! Clandestine Radio, and the Rise of Fidel Castro,” http://www.pateplumaradio.com/central/cuba/rebel2.html; accessed May 11, 2014. 87. Ruby Hart Phillips, “Castro Reaches 95% of Cubans with Radio-TV Exhortations,” NYT, August 6, 1959. 88. Warner, “Publics and Counterpublics.” 89. González, Llorar es un placer; López, La radio en Cuba. 90. “Uneasy Quiet Fills Havana Streets,” Christian Science Monitor, January 2, 1959. 91. “Castro Regrets Delay in Arriving,” NYT, January 5, 1959. 92. Ruby Hart Phillips, “Castro Reaches 95% of Cubans with Radio-TV Exhortations,” NYT, August 6, 1959. 93. Ibid. 94. Havana during this period was regarded as the center of media production in the region. Rivero, “Havana as a 1940s–1950s Latin American Media Capital.” 95. “Haiti Exiles Announce Plans to Topple Duvalier,” Daily Gleaner, March 5, 1959. 96. “U.S. Fears Chaos in a Haiti Revolt,” NYT, February 28, 1959. 97. Diederich and Burt, Papa Doc, 104–5. 98. Ibid., 104–5, 131. 99. Trouillot, Haiti, State against Nation, 160. 100. “Caribbean Brews Political Storms,” NYT, March 13, 1959. 101. “Latin Powderkeg Has U.S. in Range,” Washington Post, March 24, 1959. 102. “Radio War Rages in the Caribbean,” NYT, July 9, 1959. 103. “5 Cruises Cancel Calls at Havana,” NYT, November 11, 1959. 104. Whitton, “Radio Propaganda.” 105. “Castro’s Top Target Is Haiti,” Washington Post, September 28, 1962. 106. Security Council, “International Organizations.” 107. Ministry Paper no. 5, January 3, 1958; cited in MockYen, Rewind, 194. 108. Richardson, “The Place of Radio in the West Indies,” 158. 109. Ibid., 159, 161.
n ot e s t o page s 136– 4 4
110. Bradley, “Mass Parties in Jamaica,” 385. 111. Ibid., 414. 112. Alleyne, “Communication and Politics in Jamaica”; Sheller, “Virtual Islands.” 113. Bradley, “Mass Parties in Jamaica.” 114. Bogues, “Michael Manley, Equality and the Jamaican Labour Movement.” 115. Chatterjee, The Nation and Its Fragments. 116. Nettleford, Mirror, Mirror, 64–65. 117. Warner, Publics and Counterpublics.
Chapter 7 1. Wood, “International Broadcasting in and to the Caribbean.” 2. Ibid., 163. 3. Polyné, “Democracy as a Human Right.” 4. Demme, The Agronomist. 5. Laguerre, Diasporic Citizenship. 6. Ibid. 7. Dalton, “Tribute to Juan Formell and Los Van Van.” 8. Bennett, “Questions of Identity, Democracy, and Broadcasting.” 9. King, Bays, and Foster, Reggae, Rastafari, and the Rhetoric of Social Control, 72–74. 10. Beasley-Murray, Posthegemony. 11. Walsh, An Air War with Cuba. 12. Henken and van de Voort, “From Cyberspace to Public Space?”; Rojas, “Reforma y reacción en Cuba.” 13. Warf, “Diverse Spatialities of the Latin American and Caribbean Internet.” 14. Perna, Timba; Fernandes, Close to the Edge; Veal, Dub; Rommen and T annehill Neely, Sun, Sea, and Sound; Sterne, MP3. 15. MockYen, Rewind; Bracero, Rostros que se escuchan. See also Morris, Miss Lou; López, Alejo Carpentier y la radio; Hartt, “Broadcasting in Haiti”; and Jacklin, “Histoire de la radio en Haïti.” 16. Adisa, “Culture and Nationalism on the World Stage”; Smith, Red and Black in Haiti; Sweig, Inside the Cuban Revolution; Bennett and Bennett, The Jamaican Theatre; Averill, A Day for the Hunter; Corvington, Port-au-Prince au cours des ans; Nuiry Sánchez, ¡Presente!; García, Insurrection and Revolution. 17. Weld, Paper Cadavers. 18. Vazquez, Listening in Detail. 19. “Thieves Strip Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation Archives,” Jamaica Gleaner, January 5, 2008, http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20080105/lead/lead1.html; accessed November 15, 2014; “Minister Establishes Review Committee Regarding JBC Radio Archives,” Yardflex, January 14, 2008, http://www.yardflex.com/ archives/002073.html; accessed November 15, 2014. 20. “Rubenstein Library Acquires Radio Haiti Archives,” http://blogs.library .duke.edu/rubenstein/tag/jean-dominique/; accessed December 6, 2014.
n ot e s t o page s 14 4 – 5 4
21. Sterne, The Audible Past. 22. Collins, “From the ‘Crossroads of Space’ to the (dis)Koumforts of Home.” Erna Brodber’s Louisiana also invokes mediated voices of the dead, but from recording instruments. 23. Phillips, Crossing the River, 236–37; cited in Baucom, “Frantz Fanon’s Radio,” 47. 24. Danticat, The Farming of Bones, 96–97. 25. Danticat, Claire of the Sea Light, 174. 26. Ibid., 46. 27. Ibid., 82. 28. Ibid., 83.
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Index Academia de Radiotelefonía, 54 Acosta, Ernesto Amado, 85–86 Adorno, Theodor, 119–20, 127 Africa, British imperialism in, 4, 59 Afro-Cubans, 51 Agencia Mestre de Publicidad, 128 Agronomist, The (film), 149 Algeria, 7 Alleyne, Mervyn, 116, 145 All Jamaica (radio program), 105 Allwood, Violet, 62 Álvarez, Manuel, 47 Amateur radio operators: experimentation of, 5, 43–44; suspension of activities during World War I, 44; cultural statuses of, 45; in Cuba, 47–51, 64, 85–87, 138; in Jamaica, 60, 62, 83–84; in Haiti, 73; and distances, 152–53 American Medical Congress, 54 American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T), 45–46 Antigua, 151 Aristide, Jean-Bertrand, 149 Ashenheim, Lewis, 60, 172n108 Asociación de Anunciantes de Cuba (Cuban Association of Announcers), 117, 128, 130 Associated Press, 26, 131, 139 Associated Telephone and Telegraph Company, 71–72 Audience: transnational audiences, 56, 61; radio research in, 117, 123, 127, 128, 129–30, 144. See also Listening publics; Mediated publics Audion tube, 43 Aural public sphere, 51, 93
Automobiles, 58, 75, 89 Averill, Gage, 98 Bacon, Kenly, 88 Báez, Ángel, 81–82 Bakelite, 6, 41–42 Bakelite Corporation, 42 Banana production, 38–40 Banda Infantil de Camagüey, 47 Baquero, J. M., 53 Barbados, 83, 108 Barthes, Roland, 92 Bata Shoe Company, Haiti, 88, 111 Batista, Fulgencio, 10, 130–33, 134, 135–39, 140 Batraville, Benoît, 16 Battle of Algiers, The (film), 33 Baucom, Ian, 151, 155 BBC, 60–61, 94, 102, 104–5, 106, 112, 116, 128–29, 143 Beaubrun, Théodore, 94, 99, 100, 149 Behn, Hernand, 46 Behn, Sosthenes, 46 Benjamin, Walter, 38, 40, 144 Bennett, Louise: on radio complicating the race of sound and sound of race, 9; “Boo,” 91; performances of, 94, 99–100, 105–6, 114–15, 116; folklorecollecting habits of, 95–96; and sonic blackness, 99, 147, 154; “On a Tram Car,” 99–100; at Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, 104–5; “Federation,” 105; “Over London,” 105; on Jamaican Creole, 109; radio programs of, 114–15, 143–44 Bennett, Wycliffe, 150
Black Atlantic, 155 Blanco, José María, 79–80 Bobo, Rosalvo, 14 Bohemia, 135 Bracero Torres, Josefa, 152 Brathwaite, Kamau, 8, 93–94, 97, 99, 116, 154–55 Bright, Charles, 2 Britain: imperialism of, 3, 4, 41, 83–84, 103, 146; licensing of radio receivers require in, 55; wireless networks built by, 59–62; Empire Service of, 60–61; and radio audience research, 129 British Council, 96 Brooks, Harry, 75 Brown, Fitzgerald, 31, 33–34 Bureau d’Ethnologie de la République d’Haïti, 97 Bustamante, Alexander, 82, 114, 145, 146 Butler, Frank E., 1–4, 5, 43, 150 Butler, Smedley D., 19, 29 Button, William, 25 Cabo San Antonio, Cuba, 39 Cacos (Haitian rebels): U.S. Marines combating, 12, 23–26, 29–30; U.S. occupation officials requesting information from market women on, 15, 24; market women as chief information channel of, 16; incomprehensible signals of, 23; attacks on communications circuits, 24–25; tactics of resistance used by, 35 Calling the West Indies (radio program), 102 Cantril, Hadley, 127–28 Caperton, William Banks, 13, 14–15, 18, 19, 28 Cap Haïtien, Haiti: as center of U.S. Marines’ activity, 12; telegraph service in, 14; lack of telegraph lines to Port-au-Prince, 14, 163n15; lack of postal service with Port-au-Prince, 18; routes to, 21, 27; Hinche’s lack of telephone connection to, 22; radio
broadcasting in, 74; Dominican Republic’s opposition in, 74, 75; theatrical tradition in, 98; sound and publics of politics in, 147 Cap Haïtien Committee on Haitian American Rapprochement, 100–101 Carbó, Juan Pedro, 133 Caribbean Carnival (radio program), 104–5 Caribbean islands: telegraph communication systems in, 2–3, 14, 40; connections with wider world, 4, 6, 65; decolonization in, 4, 91; U.S. imperialism in, 4–5; shifting notions of region, 5–6; wireless communication in, 6, 43, 45, 52, 53; technology’s relevance to history of, 7; radio wars in, 10, 140–43, 146; economy of, 11–12, 37–38, 39, 46; demand for exports accelerating, 37; as remote, exotic place, 47, 63, 64; radio broadcasting in, 47–51, 153; radio receivers in, 64–65; U-boat activity in, 84; and U.S. concerns about Nazi spies during World War II, 84–89; Castro’s effect on, 140; and Internet, 150, 151 Caribbean Quarterly, 106–7 Caribbean Reader, 107 Caribbean Sea, 2 Caribbean Voices (radio program), 102, 105, 144 Carrington, Vivien, 107–8 Casas Romero, Luis, 47 Cassidy, Frederic, 106, 109, 114 Castro, Fidel, 134–35, 137, 138–43, 150 Catlin, Albertus, 33–34 Cavarero, Adriana, 92 Central Rediffusion Services, 129 Cervantes, Miguel de, 51 Chancy, Emile, 89 Chapman, Esther, 62, 103, 106 Chaterjee, Partha, 146 Chauvet, Ernest, 70 Cherson, Samuel, 131 Chibás, Edouardo, 133–34, 137
212 in de x
Child labor, and mica processing, 41, 42 China, 38 Chomón, Faure, 130, 134 Chomón, Floreal, 134 Citizenship, 102–3 Clark, George H., 119, 153 Clarke, Edith, 113–14 CMAB radio station, Cuba, 121–26, 127, 153 CMAD radio station, Cuba, 126 CMQ radio station, Cuba, 86, 122, 133, 134 CMQ television station, Cuba, 133 CMW radio station, Cuba, 125 Cold War, 142 Collins, Loretta, 154 Colombia, 39 Colonial Development and Welfare Office, 95 Colonial Office, 103 Colonial Social Welfare fund, 92 Communications technologies: and nature, 1–2, 3, 4; role as mediators and authors of archives, 34–35; sophistication of, 37–38; in banana production, 39; and celebration of distance, 47, 63, 64, 152–53; and role of technical knowledge, 77, 78, 79, 80–82, 86–89, 90; dependence on, 90 Conzé, Jean-Baptiste, 25 Cooper, Carolyn, 115 Cooper, Fred, 4 Corinaldi, C. M., 83 Cornevin, Robert, 98 Corvington, Georges, 74 Costa Rica, 38, 39, 82 Craige, John Houston, Black Bagdad, 66–68, 70–71 Creole languages: and radio broadcasting, 8, 91–92, 100–101, 116, 155; as points of inflection in national politics, 9; debates on propriety and place of, 91, 107–9, 114, 145; as resources for decolonization, 93; study of, 95, 97, 106; and listening publics, 98, 99; and social class, 98, 100, 101, 107, 108, 109, 110, 112, 115, 116; widespread nature of,
176n20; and slavery, 177n42. See also Jamaican Creole; Kreyòl Creole theater, 95, 98–100 Cuba: wireless communication systems in, 1–5, 36; U.S. occupations of, 3, 4–5, 13, 46; decolonization in, 4, 51; radio industry in, 7–8, 43–44, 64; popularity of radio in, 9, 53–55, 58–59; employment in, 38; U.S. investments in, 38, 76, 80; circulating labor in, 38, 82; telephone network in, 46, 79–80; exotic sounds of, 47, 48; radio broadcasting in, 47–53, 54, 55, 60–65, 76, 79, 88–89, 111, 133, 134, 145; readers in cigar factories, 51; listening culture in, 51–52, 54, 55, 57, 58; radio receivers in, 53–59, 64, 65, 104, 117; constitution of, 76; U.S. imperialism in, 76, 78; labor strikes in, 79–82, 90; radio audience research in, 117, 123, 127, 128, 129–30; media censorship in, 137; U.S. radio broadcasts jammed in, 149–50. See also specific cities Cuban music, 46–47, 49, 65, 76, 122 Cuban Revolution, 10, 118, 134, 140–43, 146, 149, 150 Cuban Telephone Company, 46, 79, 80 Cuban Wars of Independence (1868–98), 3 Cuba Submarine Telegraph Company, 3 Cuba Transatlantic Radio Corporation, 62 Cumberland, William, 69 Cutter, Victor, 39 Daily Gleaner: on United Fruit Company, 38–39; on U.S. control of communications, 59; and radio stations, 61, 172n108; symposium on broadcasting, 62–63; on Grinan, 84; Bennett’s poems in, 100, 105, 114; debates on Jamaican Creole, 107–9, 114; on media censorship, 137; on clandestine broadcasting, 140 Danish Virgin Islands, 4
in de x 213
Danticat, Edwidge, 155–56 Dartiguenave, Philippe Sudré, 16 Davis, Natalie, 177n42 Decolonization: in Cuba, 4, 51; technology’s ambiguous place in, 7; in Jamaica, 82, 91, 109, 145; creole languages as resources for, 93 De Forest, Lee, 2–3, 43 Déjoie, Louis, 136–37, 140, 183n75 Delbourgo, James, 32 Demme, Jonathan, 149 Denis, Lorimer, 96, 97 Désinor, Carlo, 112 Dickens, Charles, 51 Dictionary of Jamaican English, 106 Diederich, Bernard, 141 Directorio Revolucionario (DR), 130–31, 132 Dolar, Mladen, 93 Dominican Republic, 5, 17, 74–76, 140–43 Dominique, Jean, 149–50, 154 Dorticos, Osvaldo, 140 Doxey, John L., 23–24, 30 Duke University, 154 Duvalier, François: and amplification of political struggles, 10; rise to power, 92; study of language, 96; and noirisme, 97; and populist appeal, 111, 112; as presidential candidate, 136, 137; and media censorship, 137, 148–49; and radio wars, 140, 141, 142, 143, 149; voice of, 155 Eadie, Katherine, 121 Echebarría, Milagro, 122 Echeverría, José Antonio, 130–36, 153, 154 Efron, Edith, 110 Electronic communication, 6, 10, 74 Ellison, Ralph, 33 Empire Service, 60–61 English language: boundaries between proper and improper use of, 10, 94, 95–96, 102, 107–9, 114, 116; in
Bennett’s performances, 99, 109, 114; and political discourse, 145 Estimé, Dumarsais, 111 Evans, Rosemary, 108 Faine, Jules, 96–97 Fanon, Frantz, 7, 8, 151 Faron, Adolph, 44 Federación Estudiantil Universitaria (FEU), 132–33 Fidelity: and listening publics, 9, 10, 117–18, 128, 129, 134, 139–40, 143, 144; and truth, 117, 118; and loyalty, 118, 128, 129, 134, 139, 140; and radio and sound engineers, 119–21 Fignolé, Daniel, 9, 94, 111–12, 136–37, 140, 149, 154, 183n75 Figueroa, John, 105 Fletcher, L. B., 83 Florida, 138, 150 Florival, Petit Homme, 22 Folk: study of, 94–97, 177n30; debates on, 114; authenticity of, 115; languages of, 116 Folk Roots and Branches (radio program), 143 Formaldehyde, 41, 42 Fouche, Franck, 98 France, 7, 12, 13, 32, 59, 142, 168n93 Francis, Joe, 3–4 Franck, Harry, 16, 25–26 Franqui, Carlos, 138 Freeman, George Fouche, 69 French language, in Haiti, 98–99, 108, 110–12 Fries, Charles, 106 Gender: and Haitian market women, 11–17, 24, 25, 32, 149; and marketing of radio receivers, 55, 56, 57; and voices, 93; and Jamaican market women, 96, 99–100; and radio programs, 123–24 General Electric, 53, 55–56, 57 Gentil, Edouard, 73
214 in de x
George H. Clark Radioana Collection, Smithsonian Institution, 119, 153 Germany, 13, 61, 84–89 Gillette, 58 Gilroy, Paul, 151 Giquel, Humberto, 47, 58 Girvan, D. T. M., 104 Gitelman, Lisa, 13–14, 34–35 Glissant, Edouard, 8 González, Jorge, 54 González, Reynaldo, 9 González Castañet, Moisés, 122, 124–26 Good Neighbor program, 100 Gordin, Domingo, 85–87 Government Broadcasting Committee (Jamaica), 45 Government of Wireless Examiners (Jamaica), 45 Granma, 134 Gray, John, 34 Great Depression, 76 Great White Fleet, 39 Grinan, John F., 43–45, 83–84 Grinan, Juan, 43, 44 Griots, Les, 96 Guadeloupe, 64–65, 84 Guantánamo, Cuba, 1–4, 5, 14 Guevara, Che, 138 Guillaume Sam, Vilbrun, 13–14, 28 Gutiérrez, Raúl, 128 Haiti: wireless communication systems in, 7, 13, 72; radio broadcasting in, 8, 10, 61–65, 68, 69–74, 88–90, 141, 142, 145; market women of, 11–17, 24, 25, 32, 149; role of rumors in political landscape of, 12, 13, 16, 136–37, 140; elites of, 12, 70, 71, 72, 73, 96, 98, 111; political factions in, 12–13, 136, 140–41; circuits of news and information in, 13; American consulate of, 14, 15, 19; telephone networks in, 14, 17–18, 19, 22–23, 71–72; telegraph networks in, 14, 17–18, 28, 72; culture of terror in, 16; postal systems in, 18;
constitution of, 21; drums of, 23, 66, 67, 69, 70, 71; censorship of media in, 26, 29, 136, 137, 183n75; Craige on, 66–67; radio receivers in, 70, 101; educational system of, 71; German influence in, 88; political transformations of 1940s, 91, 92; black nationalism in, 92, 96; study of folk culture in, 96–97; anti-vodou campaign of Catholic Church, 97; dictatorship in, 118; and mediapolitics, 135–37; earthquake of 2010, 148, 154; and Internet, 151. See also Kreyòl; U.S. occupation of Haiti (1915–34) Haitian American Sugar Company (HASCO), 111 Haitian Coalition, 149 Haitian music, 65, 66, 70, 71, 73–74, 98 Haitian Revolution (1791–1804), 12, 98 Hams. See Amateur radio operators Hanneken, Herman H., 25 Harding, Warren, 27, 46 Havana, Cuba: WEAF station in, 5, 46–47; telephone network of, 46, 79; nationalist sentiment of public festivals in, 51; automobiles in, 58; radio receivers in, 64, 76, 117; radio broadcasting in, 76, 139; resistance in, 82–83, 90; radio stations in, 122, 138; sound and publics of politics in, 147; media production in, 183n94 Heaney, Tom, 45 Heath, Donald, 72–73 Henderson, J. G., 74 Henk, “Alex,” 121 Henken, Ted, 150 Hérald, Antoine, 136 Hewitt, Mary Jane, 96 Hewlett loudspeakers, 120 HH2S radio station, Haiti, 62, 73 HH3W radio station, Haiti, 73, 101, 111 HHK radio station, Haiti, 65, 69, 70–71, 73 Hilmes, Michele, 181n45 Hinche, Haiti: as center of U.S. Marines’ activity, 12; incidents in, 13; corvée
in de x 215
in, 21, 29; written documentation of conflict in, 21–22, 25–26, 29, 30; conflict of 1918–1919 in, 21–26, 29–30; investigation of atrocities committed in, 22, 29–32; secret police force of, 23, 24, 25; archives and atrocities of 1920–1921 in, 26–29 Hispaniola, 4 Hugo, Victor, 51 Iglesias, Marial, 51 Igo, Sarah, 127 Independencia, La, 52 India, 4, 38, 41, 42, 59 Institut d’Ethnologie, 97 Institute for Social and Economic Research, 95 Inter-American Press Association, 137 International Telephone and Telegraph, 46, 65 Internet, 148, 150–51 Isaacs, C. L., 83 Isaacs, Wills O’Gilvie, 145 Italy, 61 Jamaica: U.S. military bases on, 5; radio broadcasting in, 8, 60, 61–63, 103–4, 112–16, 129, 143–44, 150, 172n108; radio as instrument of social reform in, 8, 95, 103, 116, 129; radio’s diminished utility as instrument of politics, 10; elites of, 10, 102, 103, 115, 116; wireless communications systems in, 36, 45, 59, 83; employment in, 38; banana production in, 38–39; radio industry in, 43–44, 45, 47, 64–65; telegraph systems of, 45; telephone systems of, 45; radio receivers in, 61, 62, 112, 113, 114, 129; radio reception in, 62, 103, 137, 145, 181n46; decolonization in, 82, 91, 109, 145; labor unrest in, 82–84, 92, 95; political transformations of 1940s, 91, 92; constitution of, 92; independence of, 92, 108, 118; study of folk in, 95–96; market
women of, 96, 99–100; rural nature of population, 103–4, 113–14; sound systems used in, 113; exchange of information in, 114; radio audience research in, 128, 129, 144; rediffusion subscriptions in, 129, 143, 181n46; silence of mediapolitics in, 143–47; strike of 1964, 146 Jamaica Agricultural Society, 113 Jamaica Broadcasting Company, 112, 113, 114 Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC), 143–44, 145, 146–47, 150, 154 Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), 108, 146, 150 Jamaican Creole: radio broadcasts in, 91, 114–15, 116; in Bennett’s performances, 94, 99, 105–6, 114–15; and social reformers, 95, 116; of market women, 96; study of, 106–7; debates on, 107–9, 114, 145 Jamaican music: and sound systems, 10, 101, 112–13, 150, 155; radio broadcasting of, 104, 112–13 Jamaica Post Office, 83 Jamaica Social Welfare Commission, 96, 103, 113, 153 Jamaica Telephone Company, 60 Jamaica Welfare Ltd., 104 Jarvis, R. Y., 174n33 Jazz des Jeunes, 98 Johnson, Charles, 110 Johnson, James Weldon, 27 Jones, Frank, 43–44, 47–51 Joseph, Raymond, 149 Jour, Le, 136 Jourdain, Elodie, 110 Jumelle, Clement, 136–37, 140, 141 KDKA, 47–48, 62 Kébreau, Antonio, 137 Kelly, Patrick, 22–23 Kelsey, Carl, 18 Kern, Stephen, 47, 74 Key West, Florida, 3
216 in de x
Kingston, Jamaica: Grinan’s radio station in, 43, 45, 83; aural exchanges in, 51; radio broadcasting in, 59, 60; labor unrest in, 82–84, 90; theatrical tradition in, 98; Rastafarian community in, 146–47; radio stations in, 150 Kittler, Friedrich, 35 Koszik, John, 121 Kreyòl: telediol translated as rumor, 12; Dartiguenave’s use of, 16; U.S. Marines’ knowledge of, 25; visitors’ understanding of, 66; Haitian radio broadcasts in, 69–70, 91, 98, 99, 100–101, 112, 116, 148–49, 151; and inflection of voice, 93, 94; debates on, 97, 99, 110–11; media presence of, 98; in theater, 98, 99; political use of, 111–12, 140, 141 Lacey, Kate, 9, 126, 135 Lamartinière-Honorat, Michel, 98 Lamming, George, 102 Lang, Freeman, 21–22, 31, 34 Language: nation language, 8, 93, 100, 106, 115, 116; politics of, 94, 111. See also Creole languages; English language; French language Lara Véliz, Pablo Rafael, 125 La Renaissance (theater troupe), 98 Largey, Michael, 70 Larkin, Brian, 9 Latin America: telegraph communication systems in, 2–3, 17; radio technologies in, 39; manufacturing in, 64; cultural exchanges with U.S., 100 Lavoie, Ernest, 23, 29, 30 La Voix de Révolution Duvaliériste, 141 La Voz Dominicana, 141–42 Lazarsfeld, Paul, 127–28 League of Nations, 142 LeJeune, John, 29 Lemke, Wilhelm, 89 Leon, Rose, 145 Le Page, Robert, 106–7 Les Cayes, Haiti, 71
Lescot, Elie, 97, 111 Liceo de Matanzas, 48 Listening: poetics of, 4; as active rather than passive, 6, 9; relevance of, 151 Listening publics: generation of, 6, 9, 73, 74, 126, 135; and fidelity, 9, 10, 117–18, 128, 129, 134, 139–40, 143, 144; creation of, 9, 10, 118, 154; transnational audiences, 56, 61; and boundaries between politics and entertainment, 74; and resistance, 78, 138; extension of, 95, 156; and creole languages, 98, 99; and rural inhabitants of Jamaica, 103–4, 113–14; of Bennett, 105, 115; and audience research, 117, 123, 126–30, 144; in Cuba, 117, 123, 126, 128, 133–34, 135, 137–38, 139, 140; in Jamaica, 128, 129, 144, 146; and Internet, 150–51. See also Mediated publics Long Lines, AT&T, 46 López, Oscar Luis, 129–30 Lo que pasa en Pinar del Río (radio program), 122, 123–26 Lou and Ranny Show, The (radio program), 114–15, 143 Lyons, C. M., 83 Machado, Gerardo, 76, 77–79, 80 Magloire, Paul, 136 Magnetos, 31–34, 168n93 Malebranche, Armand, 73 Manley, Michael, 146 Manley, Norman, 82, 143, 145, 146 Marconi, Guglielmo, 2–3, 60 Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company, 44–45, 59 Marine Corps Gazette, 34 Marson, Una, 102, 106 Martinique, 64–65, 84, 110 Marxism, 95 Matthews, Herbert, 134–35 Mayer, Ferdinand, 89 MBC radio station, Haiti, 136 McCormick, Medill, 27, 28
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Media: history of, 6; as sites for political contest, 9, 118, 135–37; contexts of, 10; transmission and archiving of information in, 13, 14; reception of new media in Caribbean, 37; dialogue between forms of, 119 Mediated citizenship, 9, 122, 123, 124, 138 Mediated publics, 118, 119, 122–26, 133. See also Listening publics Meikle, Jeff, 42 Mesa, María, 123–24 Mexico, 61, 138 Mexico City, Mexico, 64 Mica, 6, 40–41 Middle East, 4 Miller, Glenn, 61 Mintz, Sidney, 4, 6, 11, 37 MockYen, Alma, 152 Môle-Saint-Nicolas, Haiti, 14 Montas, Michèle, 154 Moral, Paul, 11 Morales, Henry, 74–75 Moravia, René, 89 Morehead, George, 1 Morriseau-Leroy, Félix, 98 Morton, F. W., 47 Mouvement Ouvrier Paysan, 111 Movimiento 26 de Julio (July 26 Movement, or M-26-7), 135, 137, 141 Moyne Commission, 92 Multivocality, 8 Munro, Dana, 72 Muth, Lawrence, 16–17 Nation, The, 16, 26, 27 National Archive of Cuba, 130 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), 26 Nation language: Brathwaite on, 8, 93, 116; Bennett’s use of, 100, 106, 115, 116 Nebraska, USS, 19 Nettleford, Rex, 94, 146 New York City, 14, 44, 45 New Yorker, 66
New York Times, 134–35, 136 New Zealand, 45 Nicaragua, 39 Nielsen Audimeter, 127, 128 Noirisme, 97, 111, 116 Noise: interplay of noise and silence, 10, 119; and static of daily life, 10, 156; boundaries between sound and noise, 66, 69; of creole languages, 93 Nouvelliste, Le, 70 Ochoa, Ana, 93 Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (OCIAA), 100–102 Organization of American States (OAS), 142 Oriente, Cuba, 52 Ouanaminthe, Haiti, 22, 24 Panama, 38, 39, 82 Panama Canal, 4, 13, 84, 141 Partido Independiente de Color (Independent Party of Color), 18 Pascual, José Antonio, 81 Paternalism, 32 Paultre, Volny, 31, 167–68n85 Pensacola, Florida, 3 People’s National Party (PNP), 145, 150 Péralte, Charlemagne, 21–22, 23, 25–26 Pérez, Nena, 123–24 Pérez, Ramón, 124 Perkins, Jesse L., 16–17, 26 Phenol, 41–42 Phillips, Caryl, 151, 155 Phillips, Ruby Hart, 139–40 Pierre, Lucas, 22 Pierri (RCA technician), 48 Pinar del Río, Cuba, 121–26, 127, 137–38, 147, 153 Pinto, Claude S. de, 63 Polanco, Guillermo, 77–78 Polyné, Millery, 149 Port-au-Prince, Haiti: routes to, 12, 21, 27; lack of telegraph lines to Cap
218 in de x
Haïtien, 14, 163n15; lack of postal service with Cap Haïtien, 18; press censorship in, 26; radio stations of, 66, 70, 73–74, 89, 148, 174n33; theatrical tradition in, 98, 99; Kébreau’s characterization of, 137; sound and publics of politics in, 147; and earthquake of 2010, 148 Porter, Edward, 41 Portuondo, José, 87 Posner, Walter, 163n15 Postal systems, 18, 80 Power, Julián, 54–55 Power relations, 69, 90 Press: censorship of, 26, 135, 137, 138, 141; on radio stations, 47, 61, 70, 172n108; on wireless communication systems, 52, 53; on Grinan, 84; and dialogue between media, 119; on Batista, 131, 133; on Castro, 134, 139; political use of, 144; relationship to radio, 153 Price-Mars, Jean, 93, 96, 97 Princeton Radio Research Project, 127–28 Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, 14 Puerto Rico, 3, 4, 17, 73 PWX radio station, Cuba, 46, 53, 54, 65 Quart d’heure de Frère Hiss, Le (radio program), 100–102 Race and racism: in U.S. occupation of Haiti, 27; and British radio broadcasting, 61; and Craige’s Black Bagdad, 67; and creole languages in radio broadcasting, 91–92; and voices, 93; in Cuba, 117 Radio 4VEH, 149 Radio broadcasting: impact of, 7; in Haiti, 8, 10, 61–65, 68, 69–74, 88–90, 141, 142, 145; diverse conditions of, 8, 37; and creole languages, 8, 91–92, 100–101, 116, 155; and repertoires of contention, 9; adoption of in Haiti,
36; boom in, 37, 43; and AT&T, 45–46; and Cuban music, 46–47, 49, 65, 76; in Cuba, 47–53, 54, 55, 60–65, 76, 79, 88–89, 111, 133, 134, 145; and advertising, 55, 58, 59, 76, 78, 122–23, 126, 127, 128; in Jamaica, 60, 61–63, 103–4, 112–16, 129, 143–44, 150, 172n108; and tourism, 63–64; and Haitian music, 65, 66, 70, 71, 73–74, 98; as educational tool, 69, 71, 72–73, 143–44; political use of, 75–78, 91, 111, 138–43, 144, 152; conventions of, 78; variety of voices in, 94, 115; and dialogue between media, 119; and propaganda, 128, 136, 141, 142–43; and solidarity, 151–52; textual and recorded past of, 152; ephemeral nature of, 153–54. See also Amateur radio operators; Listening publics Radiocentro, 134 Radio Club of America, 44, 45 Radio golf, 49 Radio Haïti, 74, 88, 154 Radio Havana, 148, 149 Radio industry: production of, 40–42; promotion of, 42–47; and radio receivers, 53–59, 61, 64–65, 70, 78, 101; and automobiles, 58; marketing of equipment, 119, 120 Radio Jamaica Rediffusion (RJR), 143, 145 Radio Jean-Jacques Dessalines, 136 Radio Lumière, 149 Radio Martí, 149 Radio Peace and Progress, 148–49 Radio Port-au-Prince, 136 Radio Progreso, 143 Radio Rebelde, 138–39 Radio Reloj, 130–32, 134, 135, 150 Radio Show, New York City, 45, 46 Radio stations: in Jamaica, 43, 45, 83, 84, 103, 105, 112; press on, 47, 61, 70, 172n108; in Haiti, 62, 65, 66, 69, 70–71, 73–74, 89, 101, 111, 148, 174n33; in Puerto Rico, 73; in Cuba, 76–78, 82–83, 86, 121–23, 138, 180n18;
in de x 219
clandestine stations, 76–78, 82–83, 88–89, 138, 140, 141, 142, 143; and rumors and gossip, 123, 125–26; signoff convention, 148; records of, 153. See also specific stations Radio technologies: widespread acquisition of, 5; U.S. Marines use of radio sets, 14–15, 18, 19, 20, 22, 24–25, 28, 35; interception of, 22–23, 24; and radiograms as evidence, 28–29; radios used for torture, 33; and United Fruit Company, 39–40; capacities of, 43; and status of technological imperialism, 65; and resistance, 68–69, 74, 75–78, 89; maintenance of, 69, 75, 77, 78, 86–87, 90; and World War II Nazi spy activity, 84–89 Radio VonVon, 149 Ramsey, Kate, 97, 164–65n38 Ravelo, Juan María, 76, 77 RCA, 48, 50, 56, 57, 59, 75, 119–21 RCA Loudspeaker 103, 120 Reagan, Ronald, 149 Rejali, Darius, 32–33, 168n93 Renda, Mary, 32 Revue Indigène, La, 96 Richardson, Willy, 144 Rionda, Manuel, 48–50 Rivero, Yeidy, 76 Rockefeller, Nelson, 100 Rodríguez, Antonio, 141 Rodríguez, Dora, 122 Rojas, Rafael, 150 Roldos Arché, Jaime, 87 Roosevelt, Theodore, 3 Rosales, Juan, 87 Roumain, Jacques, 97, 99 Royal Commission, 102 Ruche, La, 111 Rumors and gossip: in Haiti, 12, 13, 16, 136–37, 140; and killing of Guillaume Sam, 28; of spying during World War II, 86; and creole theater, 98; and information networks in Jamaica, 114; and radio stations, 123, 125–26
Rural Guard of Cuba, 81, 82 Russell, John H., Jr., 70, 72 Russia, 142 Sablón, Rafael Miranda, 85 St. Lucia, 108 Saint-Raphaël, Haiti, 12 Salnave, Théopile, 94, 101, 149 San Juan, Puerto Rico, 5 Santiago de Cuba, Cuba: Grinan family from, 44; radio broadcasting in, 52, 64, 86–87, 139; clandestine radio station in, 76–78, 82–83; labor strikes in, 79, 90; radio stations of, 122; and Movimiento 26 de Julio, 135; sound and publics of politics in, 147 Santo Domingo, 64–65, 98 Sarnoff, David, 44 Scarry, Elaine, 32 Schenectady Gazette, 50 Scotland, G. W., 63 Scott, David, 78 Seligmann, Herbert, 16–17, 26 Selvon, Sam, 94, 102 Senate Inquiry into the Occupation of Haiti and Santo Domingo (1921–1922), 27–28, 31, 32, 33, 35 Sheller, Mimi, 145 Sieger, Edward, 29–30 Sierra, Armelio, 79–80 Silence: interplay of noise and silence, 10, 119; Cuban police’s imposing of, 132; Castro’s enforcement of, 139; of mediapolitics in Jamaica, 143–47 Silvey, Robert, 128–29, 144 6KW radio station, 50 Slaves and slavery: and aural communications between master and slaves, 8; Haitian Revolution ending, 12; electric violence used against slaves, 32; and creation of wealth, 37; and creole theater, 98; and creole languages, 177n42 Smith, Matthew, 92, 111
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Social and Economic Studies, 95 Social class: and marketing of radio receivers, 55–56, 76; and radio broadcasting in Haiti, 70, 101, 112; and voices, 94; and creole languages, 98, 100, 101, 107, 108, 109, 110, 112, 115, 116; and radio broadcasting in Jamaica, 112, 114, 115–16, 129; and radio audience research, 128 Sociedad de Instrucción y Recreo, 48 Somoza, Anastasio, 141 Sonic blackness, 91–92, 95, 97, 99, 100, 111–12, 115, 116, 147 Sonic spaces, 5, 151 Sound: politics of, 66, 67–68, 71, 74, 75–76, 90; fidelity of, 119–21; mobility of, 151 Sound studies, 8 Spanish imperialism, 3, 4, 46 Sparks, Edward, 88, 89 Spatial categories, 6 Stohl, Rodolpho, 86–87 Stolzoff, Norman, 112–13 Suárez, Celia, 123–24 Suffrage, 92 Sugar production, 38, 40 Surveillance, and technical knowledge, 77, 78, 79, 80, 90 Swanzy, Henry, 102 Sylvain, Suzanne, 97 Szendy, Peter, 135 Taft, Edna, 66, 73 Taussig, Michael, 16, 34 Technology, 10. See also Radio technologies Teenage Dance Party (radio program), 143 Telefunken, 45 Telegraph communication systems: in Caribbean, 2–3, 14, 40; wireless communication systems compared to, 2–3, 22; infrastructures of, 12, 24, 81–82; in Haiti, 14, 17–18, 28, 72; and banana production, 40; in Jamaica, 45
Telephone infrastructures: market circuits compared to, 12; in Haiti, 14, 17–18, 19, 22–23, 25, 71–72; in Caribbean, 40; in Jamaica, 45; in Cuba, 46, 79–80 Television: and Jones, 50; and Bennett, 91; and Beaubrun, 99; and dialogue between media, 119; and audience research, 127, 129; in Cuba, 133, 135, 137, 139, 140; political use of, 143; effect on radio, 148 Théodore, Joseph Davilmar, 14 Tinajero, Araceli, 51 Tontons Macoutes, 149 Torture, 31–34 Tourism, 11, 37, 39, 63–64, 142 Toussaint, Lamartine, 30 Toussaint, Meratus, 31 Toussaint Louverture, FrançoisDominique, 98 Tracy, James, 21–22 Trinidad, 5, 83 Tropical Radio Telegraph Company, 39 Trouillot, Michel-Rolph, 30, 141 Trujillo, Rafael, 74–75, 140–42, 155 Truth: status of truth-making, 13; in Hinche, 23, 25–26, 29–30; U.S. Marines’ confirmation of, 25–26; U.S. Marines’ hiding of, 29–30, 33–34; verifiability of, 35; Jamaican Creole as language of, 115; and fidelity, 117, 118; debates on, 151 Tsing, Anna, 68 Turner, Thomas, 28–29 2LC radio station, 47 UNESCO, 110 Union Patriotique, 26, 27, 167–68n85 United Fruit Company, 4, 5, 38–40, 44 United Kingdom: radio audience research in, 128–29. See also Britain United States: imperialism of, 3, 4, 70, 78; bananas promoted in, 38–39, 40; economic ties with Caribbean, 46; newspapers of, 46–47; influence on
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communication technologies, 59; soundscape of, 69; radio researchers in, 127. See also U.S. occupation of Haiti (1915–34) U.S. Army, 41 U.S. Bureau of Mining, 41 U.S. Department of Commerce, 64 U.S. Marines: strength of Haitian presence, 5; combating Cacos in Haiti, 12, 23–26, 29–30; and access to information in Haiti, 14, 15, 16–17, 21, 32; radio sets used in Haiti, 14–15, 18, 19, 20, 22, 24–25, 28, 35; market women’s information on, 15–16; telephone lines maintained by, 19, 71–72; Haitians opposed to presence of, 21, 68; and Haitian drums, 23, 66, 67–68, 71; photography used by, 26; press reports of, 26–27; electrotorture of prisoners, 31–34, 168n85; and HHK radio station, 70–71; and ending of occupation, 91. See also U.S. occupation of Haiti (1915–34) U.S. Navy, 3, 19, 59 U.S. occupation of Haiti (1915–34): and strength of U.S. Marines’ presence, 5; and wireless communication, 7; and relevance of market talk, 11, 15; violent practices rooted in, 13, 26–29, 30, 31–34, 35, 71; production of knowledge and ignorance about, 14, 35; controlling flow of information as priority of, 15, 18; gendarmerie used in suppressing armed uprisings against, 15, 18, 21–22, 23, 24, 27, 29–30, 31, 67; telephone lines maintained by U.S. Marines, 19, 71–72; corvée revived by, 21, 164–65n38; official investigation of, 26, 27–32; Haitian intellectuals’ opposition to, 26–29, 70, 71, 73; speculations on, 34–36; length of, 37; and radio broadcasting, 65, 69–74, 89–90; and agricultural radio shows, 69–70, 71; and Dominican resistance
movements, 74–76; ending of, 91, 92, 100; and creole theater, 98 U.S. State Department, 72, 74–75, 88 University of Havana, 130, 131, 134 University of West Indies, 106, 109 Urrutia Lleó, Manuel, 140 Venezuela, 138, 141–42, 150 Vietnam, 168n93 Villeda Morales, Ramón, 141 Vincent, Sténio, 88, 89 Violence: of U.S. occupation of Haiti, 13, 26–29, 30, 31–34, 35, 71; electric violence, 31–34, 168n85, 168n93; intimate forms of, 32, 35; in Jamaica, 83; of Batista regime, 135; in creole dictionaries, 177n42 Virginia, USS, 19 Voice of America, 149 Voices: and political transformations, 91, 94; and political decision making, 92; as embodied, 92, 93; plurality of, 92–93, 94, 116, 152; and social status, 94; preservation of, 155 Voices of the Caribbean (radio program), 143 VP5PZ radio station, Jamaica, 43, 45 Walcott, Derek, 94, 102 Wallace, David Foster, 10 Walter, W. H., 71–72 Warner, Michael, 9, 138 Washington, USS, 13, 15, 19 Watson, Lucius, 114 WEAF radio station, 5, 45, 46–47 Weheliye, Alexander, 94 Welles, Orson, 128 Wells, Clark H., 22–24, 29–30 Western Union, 2–3 West India and Panama Telegraph Company, 2–3 West India Telegraph and Telephone Company, 17 West Indies, 32, 59–60, 62 Westinghouse, 53, 55, 57
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Westinghouse Magazine, 121 WGY television station, 50 Whitton, John, 142–43 Widemaier, M., 73 Wiener, Jean, 89 William, Augustine, 89 Williams, Alexander S., 29, 30 Williams, Ranny, 114 Williams, Raymond, 35 Williams, Whiting, 121 Wilson, Woodrow, 27 Winocur, Rosalía, 9, 122 Wireless Board of Jamaica, 45 Wireless communication systems: in Cuba, 1–5, 36; development of, 2–3, 7, 152; maintenance and repair of equipment, 6, 7, 22–23, 69, 75, 77, 78, 79–80; in Haiti, 7, 13, 72; and repertoires of contention, 9; war connected with, 18–19; in World War I, 35;
United Fruit Company’s use of, 39–40; and banana production, 40. See also Radio technologies Wireless Specialty Apparatus Company, 41 Women: Haitian market women, 11–17, 24, 25, 32, 149; and mica processing, 41, 42; Jamaican market women, 96, 99–100 Women’s Federation, 96 Wood, Corey, 75, 174n33 Wood, H. R., 23 Woolley, Ernest, 89 World War I, 35, 37, 38, 44 World War II, 74, 84–89, 94 Wurtzler, Steve, 55 Zayas, Alfredo, 46 ZQI radio station, Jamaica, 84, 103, 105, 112, 153, 154
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