Martha van Bakel
Martha van Bakel is a doctoral research fellow at the graduate school for Global Intellectual History at Freie Universität Berlin. Martha holds an MA in Global History (Freie Universität & Humboldt Universität Berlin) and a BSc in International Relations and History (London School of Economics). Her doctoral project builds on her MA thesis, which focused on Alexandre Pétion’s relationship with Britain during his presidency of Haiti. Her research interests lie in modern Atlantic history, Haitian history, informal empire, and the origins of contemporary international order. She has also worked as a researcher in history and political science for research groups and documentaries.
British Informal Actors in post-independence Haiti
This research project examines the importance of unofficial British agents in Haiti in its pre-recognition period; that is, between the Declaration of Independence in 1804, and and the agreement of a French indemnity in 1825. Unofficial British agents were not employed by formal structures such as the British state, colonial administration, or admiralty, but instead were free agents such as merchants, missionaries, slave-owners, and abolitionists who held a variety of connections to the early Haitian state and the broader Caribbean. They operated in Port-au-Prince, Cap Henri, London, and Kingston, among other places. Using archives in Britain, Jamaica, and beyond, the project pursues the hypothesis that unofficial British agents played a crucial role in the post-independence period for Haiti and its integration into the emerging international order by mediating between Haitian leaders and British and European administrations and observers."