Anthropologist Wins Prize for Book on Haitian Boat Migration to US

Photo of UC Davis sociocultural anthropologist Jeffrey Kahn and image of U.S. border agents' boat approaching migrants' boat

UC Davis anthropologist Jeffrey Kahn’s book on Haitian boat migration to the United States is the co-winner of the 2019 Avant Garde Book Prize from the Haitian Studies Association.

The award selection committee called Kahn’s book, Islands of Sovereignty: Haitian Migration and the Borders of Empire (University of Chicago Press, 2019), a “timely and important contribution” to the field.

Islands of Sovereignty examines how boat migration from Haiti to the U.S. during the last three decades of the 20th century led to the development of new forms of legal activism, border governance, and oceanic policing that have remade the spatiality of the American nation-state. It is Kahn’s first book.

Two other books shared the Haitian Studies Association prize: Baron de Vastey and the Origins of Black Atlantic Humanism by Marlene Daut, and Jacques Roumain: A Life of Resistance by Patti Marxsen

The prize is given every other year to the best single-authored book in Haitian Studies in the social sciences, with broad application beyond the academy.

Kahn is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science.

— Kathleen Holder, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science