This article reflects on the presence (and absence) of references to Haiti in the events surrounding the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade in Great Britain. It suggests that a growing public awareness of and media attention to Haiti is associated with an increased interest among academic researchers. The article concludes with a reflection on the impact and the implications of the intensive scholarly engagement with Haiti since 2004, outlining reservations and suggesting elements of a future research agenda.
Charles Forsdick is James Barrow Professor of French at the University of Liverpool. He is author of Victor Segalen and the Aesthetics of Diversity (2000) andTravel in Twentieth-Century French and Francophone Cultures (2005), and co-editor of Francophone Postcolonial Studies: A Critical Introduction (2003). He is currently completing a study of representations of Toussaint Louverture and co-editing the volume Francophone Thought in the Postcolonial World. He is a Fellow of the Centre for the Study of International Slavery.
This article explores the conceptual problem of popular insurgency in Haitian revolutionary historiography. Framed by fundamental questions of legitimate versus illegitimate insurgency, of the relationship between the elites and the people, and of the process of democratization and the rule of law, the article argues that the problem of popular insurgency is one way to link together analysis of past and present Haitian history and to focus on the role of the Haitian people in making that history.
Nick Nesbitt is senior lecturer in French at the Centre for Modern Thought and School of Modern Languages at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. His publications include Voicing Memory: History and Subjectivity in French Caribbean Literature (2003) as well as articles on Haiti, African and African American music and culture, and critical theory, in journals such as Yale French Studies, Critique, L'Esprit Createur, Rue Descartes, Research in African Literature, Sub-Stance, Romanic Review, Mosaic, and Telos. He has recently completed a forthcoming book project entitled "Universal Emancipation: The Haitian Revolution and the Radical Enlightenment."
This article challenges the notion of Haitian cultural exceptionalism, and the ways in which in the postindigenist era the peasant novel in general and Jacques Roumain's Gouverneurs de la rosée in particular became yardsticks for judging Haitian writing. Evoking contemporary narratives of exile and return, the article argues that authors such as Dany Laferrière and Edwidge Danticat offer post-territorial understandings of culture and nation
J. Michael Dash is professor of French at New York University. He is the author of Literature and Ideology in Haiti (1981), Haiti and the United States (1988), The Other America (1998), and Culture and Customs of Haiti (2001), and has translated a number of Edouard Glissant's works, including The Ripening (1985),Caribbean Discourse (1989), and Monsieur Toussaint (2005).
Evoking the persistence of themes of revenge and animosity in Haitian literature, this article considers how Lyonel Trouillot radically reconceptualizes them, and considers how his work is pushing toward a more complex understanding of personal and collective identity and destiny in Haiti. The article argues that, in suggesting the interdependencies that exist between individuals and groups in Haiti, Trouillot's work offers a potential way out of the repetitive, circular history that revenge and hatred tend to create.
Martin Munro is associate professor in the French division of the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics at Florida State University, Tallahassee. His publications include Shaping and Reshaping the Caribbean: The Work of Aimé Césaire and René Depestre (2000), Exile and Post-1946 Haitian Literature: Alexis, Depestre, Ollivier, Laferrière, Danticat (2007), and (as co-editor) Reinterpreting the Haitian Revolution and Its Cultural Aftershocks (2006). His current project is on rhythm and Caribbean culture.
Mario Benjamin is one of Haiti's leading contemporary artists. Using video and multi-media, painting, installation, and other mixed media, he addresses issues of identity, ethnicity, and race. He aims to challenge preconceived notions of the driving influences and interests of Haitian artists. He has represented Haiti in numerous biennials, including Sao Paolo, Havana, Johannesburg, and Venice in 2001. Most recently (August 2007–January 2008) his work appeared in the exhibition "Infinite Island: Contemporary Caribbean Art" at the Brooklyn Museum, New York.
This article argues that there is a conspicuous lack of representations of the Haitian revolution in most contemporary Haitian writing. Rather than writing explicitly about the Revolution, many Haitian writers “perform” revolutions in their own work. Frankétienne's work provides us with a particularly good example of such revolutions through the visual and linguistic inventiveness that characterizes his oeuvre in general and his practice of rewriting his previously written works in particular. His rewriting offers new perspectives on the key concepts that have shaped his artistic work: the spiral and quantum writing.
Rachel Douglas is lecturer in francophone postcolonial studies at the University of Liverpool. She is a specialist in contemporary Haitian literature, especially that of Frankétienne, and her current research focuses on issues of rewriting in francophone Caribbean literature today.
This article explores the poetics of return in Edwidge Danticat's The Dew Breaker and her latest work, Brother, I'm Dying. Focusing on the roles of memory, imagination, borrowed recollections, and autobiography, the article illustrates how Danticat writes this return in her work, the landscape she creates, and the people in it. If home, as the article argues, has always been Haiti for this writer, the two selected works expose the ambiguous, enigmatic character of this location.
Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw is a lecturer of francophone Caribbean literature and nineteenth century French poetry at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine. Her academic research has focused on the Caribbean cultural landscape as presented in the works of Gisèle Pineau, Yanick Lahens, and Edwidge Danticat. Her most recent publication is a co-edited collection of essays titled Reinterpreting the Haitian Revolution and Its Cultural Aftershocks(2006). Her short stories have appeared in several journals, including Callaloo and Small Axe. Four Taxis Facing North, her first collection of short stories, was published in 2007.
Maksaens Denis is a Haitian director and video artist who works with the contrasts between the moving images of video and abstract still images, and the collusion between reality and the imaginary. In residence at the Société des Arts Technologiques, Montreal, in 2002 he presented an on-site installation "Nouveaux mondes, mondes nouveaux." The same year, he participated in the second multicultural forum of contemporary art and presented a project of urban sculptures at the Haitian Arts Museum. He has presented his work in Senegal, Mexico, and Dominican Republic. He has made experimental documentaries and videos, including L'arbre de la liberté in November 2004 on the history of Haiti, and E pluribus unum, which won the prize for best art film at the Black Film Festival of Berlin in 2004.
This article traces the history of cinema in Haiti from the appearance of the first cinematograph there in December 1899 through to the contemporary period. Paying attention both to the kinds of films Haitians have watched, and to the various types of films that Haitian filmmakers have produced, the article provides a rare insight into the culture and politics of cinema in Haiti.
Arnold Antonin is one of Haiti's best-known filmmakers. His many works include Haïti: Le chemin de la liberté (1975); Tiga: Haïti, rêve, possession, création, folie (2001); Piwouli et le Zenglendo (2002); GNB contre Attila (2004); and Le Président a-t-il le sida? (2006). Born in Port-au-Prince in 1942, Antonin is also a university professor, director of the Pétion Bolivar Cultural Center, and chair of the Association of Haitian Filmmakers. He was awarded the Prix Djibril Diop Mambety at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002 for his body of work and his documentary Courage de femme. In March 2007, Le Président a-t-il le sida? won the Prix Paul Robeson at the Ouagadougou Film and Television Festival in Burkina Faso.
This article focuses on the visual arts in contemporary Haiti, providing a rare insight into the current creative context. Countering a customary focus on history painting and Vodou-inspired or magical realist work, it explores the evolution of artistic production over the past two decades, situating developments in their socioeconomic and political context and considering them in relation to the international art trade. Central to the study is the work of Mario Benjamin, Maxence Denis, and Edouard Duval Carrié, but sections of the article are also devoted to women artists and to the new generation of sculptors linked to the Saint Soleil school. The article concludes with a consideration of the role of artists in contemporary political movements.
Barbara Prézeau-Stephenson is a Haitian artist and art historian. Born in 1965 in Portau-Prince, she grew up in an artistic family. She has participated in exhibitions in Montreal, Paris, Seville, San Diego, Brussels, Chicago, San Francisco, Quito, Ottawa, and New York. She is co-founder and current chair of the Fondation AfricAmericA, and has recently completed an MA in Management of Cultural Organizations at the Université Paris-Dauphine, with a dissertation titled "The Contribution of Cultural Production in the Economic Development of Haiti."
Madison Smartt Bell is the author of twelve novels, including The Washington Square Ensemble (1983), Waiting for the End of the World (1985), Straight Cut(1986), The Year of Silence (1987), Doctor Sleep (1991), Save Me, Joe Louis (1993), and Ten Indians (1997). In 1995, All Soul's Rising, the first of his trilogy on the Haitian Revolution, was published, followed by Master of the Crossroads (2000) and The Stone That the Builder Refused (2004). Most recently he is the author of the biography Toussaint Louverture: A Life (2007). Born and raised in Tennessee, he now lives in Baltimore, where he is professor of English at Goucher College and director of the Kratz Center for Creative Writing.
Edouard Glissant was born in 1928 in Sainte-Marie, Martinique. His early education was at the Lycée Schoelcher, where he first encountered Aimé Césaire, a teacher there at thattime. In 1946 he left for Paris on a scholarship. He studied history and philosophy at the Sorbonne, and ethnology at the Musée de l'Homme. From the 1950s to the present, his work has developed into the most compelling and profound challenge to Negritude and Afrocentrism. In poems, essays, plays, and novels, Glissant has charted his ideas of Caribbean culture and being, which are broadly recognized as some of the most influential interventions in regional and global thought.
F. Abiola Irele is a visiting professor of African and African American studies and Romance languages and literatures at Harvard University. His publications include an annotated edition of selected poems of Léopold Sédar Senghor, a collection of critical essays titled The African Experience in Literature and Ideology, and an annotated edition of Aimé Césaire's Cahier d'un retour au pays natal. A second collection of his essays, The African Imagination: Literature in Africa and the Black Diaspora, appeared in 2001. He is co-editor, with Simon Gikandi, of the Cambridge History of African and Caribbean Literature and a contributing editor to the Norton Anthology of World Literature. From 1992 to 2003 he served as editor of the journal Research in African Literatures.
In a no-holds-barred review of his participation in the ongoing interpretation of Aimé Césaire's poetry and its relationship to the changing face of identity politics in France, the French West Indies, and the United States, the author highlights some particularly significant moments: Black Power and Black Nationalism at the end of the 1960s and into the '70s; the political monumentalization of Césaire in Martinique between the late 1970s and his ninetieth-birthday celebration in 2003; and the creation of two book series to serve as cultural intermediaries—CARAF Books and New World Studies.
This essay questions the tensions between the problems of writing about Haitian art and the problem with writing about Haitian art. Within this framework it questions the recurring emphasis of Vodou, specifically considering essays from the catalogue Continental Shifts, which features the art of Duval Carrié, whose oeuvre moves beyond the simply, flat, “primitive” styles associated with Haitian art to idiosyncratic installations, paintings, and sculptures that speak to the powerful visual and cultural elements of contemporary Haitian art.
Jerry Philogene teaches in the American Studies Department at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She is a doctorial candidate in the American Studies Program at New York University and specializes in twentieth-century African American and Afro Caribbean visual arts and cultural history.
With his painting and sculpture, Duval Carrié creates mise-en-scène in which viewers become vicarious participants in four acts of the transatlantic drama of violation of sovereignties and identities: act 1, the destruction of the Caribbean environment and its indigenous people; act 2, the slave trade; act 3, the slave uprising that created Haiti; and act 4, the “endless migration” of post-occupation diaspora that continues into the present as an unfinished environmental and social revolution.
LeGrace Benson is currently director of the Arts of Haiti Research Project and an associate editor of the Journal of Haitian Studies. She has held faculty positions at Cornell University and Wells College and is professor emerita at the State University of New York. She is author of numerous articles on Haitian art and chapters in books concerning education, the environment, and the arts in Haiti and the Caribbean.
This essay revisits the arguments in Continental Shifts: The Art of Edouard Duval Carrié. The book's editor looks at how the volume (a mid-career survey of the Haitian artist) was conceived and at its contributions to the study of modern Haitian art and visuality. The author assesses the impact of Vodou on Duval Carrié's imagination and reacts to critiques of the book from scholars of Haitian culture. He calls for a rereading of modern Haitian art history to privilege a wider spectrum of artistic strategies beyond the “Haitian Renaissance.”
Edward J. Sullivan is professor of fine arts and dean for the humanities at New York University. He has worked in the area of Latin American and Caribbean art for more than twenty years. He has published over twenty-five books and exhibition catalogues. Included among his most recent publications areContinental Shifts: The Art of Edouard Duval Carrié (2007), The Language of Objects in the Art of the Americas (2007), and the exhibition catalogue Fragile Demon: Juan Soriano in Mexico, 1935–1950 (2008). He is currently working on a book dealing with Latin American and Caribbean artists in the New York art world, 1950–1970.