Date of Award

May 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Erin Winkler

Committee Members

Robert Smith, Aims McGuinness, Ermitte Saint Jacques


Bahamas, Haitian Diaspora, Haitians, Immigration


Haitian nationals represent the largest immigrant population in the Bahamas. Due to the Nationality Act of 1973, which changed citizenship to jus sanguinis, children born to non-Bahamian nationals in the Bahamas are not citizens of the state. This means that children born to Haitian nationals in the Bahamas are not citizens but are eligible to apply for citizenship upon their eighteenth birthday. Although much attention is given to undocumented migration, little work has been produced that speaks to the plight of the children of these immigrants. These people are a part of a growing underclass who are stateless and marginalized but who simultaneously feel entitled to the Bahamas and the right to access the benefits of Bahamian citizenship. Through 28 semi-structured interviews, this dissertation examines the experiences of second-generation Haitians living in the Bahamas with a specific focus on the stigma of being Haitian, the road to citizenship, and identity which are themes that emerged from the interviews. I will argue that their experiences are characterized by the stigma associated with being Haitian in the Bahamas which follows them from childhood and into adulthood. I also argue that the road to citizenship is an arduous process that leaves many second-generation Haitians feeling defeated and that there is a social hierarchy in Bahamian citizenship creating a second class citizenship category for those not considered to be “real” Bahamians. Additionally, a majority of the participants (twenty-three) believed that there should be changes and advocated for one of three categories: birthright citizenship (thirteen), granting of citizenship prior to eighteen (four), and no changes but a quicker turnaround time (six) indicating the problems associated with the structure of applying for citizenship. Finally, my respondents shaped their identities into six categories: individual (three), African/Pan African (two), Bahamian (two), Bahamian of Haitian descent (five), Haitian (eight), and Haitian-Bahamian (seven). I argue that second-generation Haitians negotiate their identities in an environment where they are constantly told who they are and/or that they have to choose either Haitian or Bahamian because they cannot be both. I also argue that there are not any patterns of correlation between specific participant characteristics and chosen identity categories.