Reading Patrick Chamoiseau's Texaco in terms of Joseph Meeker's notion of the “comedy of survival,” Lincoln argues that the text affirms the pragmatic necessities of survival and continued “opposition,” despite the evident impossibility of resistance at a time of political foreclosure; as such, it complicates Peter Hallward's and Chris Bongie's recent criticisms of the ideological and philosophical turn to autonomous “singularity” in contemporary postcolonialism. In Texaco, the “singular” experiences of Martinique's “wasted lives” prove to serve not as a retreat from universal “specificity” but rather as a basis for such relation, offering a sophisticated poetic articulation of how an open community grounded not on identity but on strategic alliance might look. It is precisely in a moment of defeat, or failure, at a time defined by “living without an alternative,” that Texaco locates its richest hope and promise, its utopian turn, offering a paradoxical (or, perhaps, dialectical) redefinition of the terms of both literary endeavor and political practice.
Sarah L. Lincoln is assistant professor of English at Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, where she teaches postcolonial and other world literatures, along with global cinema and critical theory. She is the author of several essays on consumerism, waste, and the politics of form in postcolonial film and fiction and is currently at work on a book manuscript titled "Oikopoiesis: Postcolonial Literature and the Art of Survival," which studies anticonsumerism and sustainability in contemporary literatures.
This investigation addresses the degree to which African diasporic writers might free the term travel from its etymology. Chancy is interested in how shifts in social class for descendents of those formerly termed “subaltern” have occasioned concomitant shifts in the understanding of space, landscape, and those who inhabit the sites of visitation. It is the author's hope that such an investigation will yield a compelling discursive reassessment of how we might rethink the role of “native informants” as cosmopolitans who, despite a fixed identity within a minority group denied social (i.e., class) mobility, can speak a consciousness freed from marginalization that remains, to varying degrees, part of the community of origin (an ethnic or “racial” group), even as the border crossings they effect provide them with purchase within the economy of a society that largely frustrates the possibilities of movement for the constituents of the larger community such urbane travelers represent.
Myriam J. A. Chancy is professor of English at the University of Cincinnati. She is the author of a number of works of nonfiction, including Searching for Safe Spaces: Afro-Caribbean Women Writers in Exile (1997), which received the Choice OAB Award in 1998, and Framing Silence: Revolutionary Novels by Haitian Women (1997). She is also the author of the novels Spirit ofHaiti (2003) and The Loneliness of Angels (2010). She sits on the advisory committee of PMLA, the journal of the Modern Language Association of America.
This interview addresses some of the most important issues explored in the fiction and nonfiction of Edwidge Danticat, such as migration, exile, home, language, Dyaspora, and the connection between stories and human rights action. The interview also discusses Danticat's activist work with the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC)—the Miami-based nonprofit legal services organization working on behalf of immigrants and refugees—and her role as narrator in the film Potomitan: Haitian Women Pillars of the Global Economy (2009). In the introduction, the author discusses Danticat's latest collection of essays, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work (2010), and reflects on the significance of reading a writer such as Danticat across cultural lines.
Elvira Pulita no is an associate professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Her research and teaching interests include African diaspora literatures, Caribbean studies, indigenous studies, theories of race and ethnicity, migration, diaspora, and human rights. Among other subjects, she has published on the work of Caryl Phillips, Jamaica Kincaid, Edwidge Danticat, and V. S. Naipaul, and she is currently completing a monograph exploring literary representations of diaspora in the work of Caribbean-born writers living in the United States. She is the author of Toward a Native American Critical Theory (2003).
This essay explores the poetics and the politics of AIDS representation in the Haitian context through an examination of Arnold Antonin's film Le president a-t-il le SIDA?(Does the President Have AIDS?; 2006) and Myriam J. A. Chancy's novel Spirit of Haiti (2003). Drawing on the insights of queer theory, the author argue that the hyperconsciousness of stigma in the Haitian context imposes limits on the imaginings of AIDS in cultural production; thus even as artists enter into their representation with overtly political intentions, they are unwittingly enmeshed in prevailing discourses and narratives of stigma in areas such as gender, sexuality, and religious practice.
Régine Michelle Jean-Charles is an assistant professor of Romance languages and literatures and African and African diaspora studies at Boston College. Her research focuses on gender, sexuality, and transnational feminisms in African and Caribbean literary and cultural studies. Her work has appeared most recently in Ecrire Haïti aujourd'hui(1986-2006). She is currently working on a book manuscript titled "Conflict Bodies: The Politics of Rape Representation in the Francophone Imaginary."
This article sheds light on an original fiction by the young award-winning Martinican writer Fabienne Kanor, who uniquely problematizes questions of collective memory and gender in the Black Atlantic. This paper examines the use of the poetics of staggering and the dislocation of bodies and minds as Kanor stages it through her novel Humus. A polyphonic, disrupted, and fragmented text, Humus is the tale of embedded narrative memories that unveil the historical and anthropological traces of the Middle Passage.
Dominique Aurélia is an associate professor in the Department of English at the Université des Antilles et de la Guyane, Martinique, where she teaches Caribbean and American literature, with a special focus on Middle Passage narratives written by women. She has published essays on Caribbean literature, postcolonial theory, transatlantic studies, and Caribbean art, in edited collections, and in the journals Macomère, Cercles, Arthème, and Carnets du Cerpac. She is also a short-story writer.
Franklyn Rodgers is a UK-based photographic artist best known for his unique and distinctive portraits that explore notions of identity. The recipient in 2001 of a Nesta fellowship, he was also nominated for the Arts Foundation award in 2008, and for the Paul Hamlyn fellowship in 2009. His recent exhibitions include Underexposed, a stand-alone installation at the National Portrait Gallery, London, and The Elders, launched as part of the commemorations of the Festival of Britain on the Southbank, London, in 2011. His first monograph, The Philosophy of Strangers, was published by Autograph ABP in 2007.
Kamau Brathwaite is a distinguished historian, literary-cultural critic, and poet, as well as a friend and colleague of Edouard Glissant. After a long career teaching in the Department of History at the University of the West Indies, Mona, he now teaches in the Department of Comparative Literature at New York University. A founder of the Caribbean Artists Movement and a founding editor of Savacou, Brathwaite is the recipient of a number of awards and prizes, including the Neustadt International Prize for Literature. Among his most recent books are Ancestors (2001), MR (Magical Realism) (2002), Words Need Love Too (2004), Born to Slow Horses (2005), and Elegguas (2010).
While there is an attempt to install Edouard Glissant as a literary patriarch after his death, we should not forget his interest in a poetics of risk that was tied to Michel Leiris's fascination with primitive rituals in general and the bullfight in particular. Glissant's well-known rejection of systems of organization is profoundly connected to the power of this primal drama in which the subject is always off balance, identity always thrown into question in the face of the fierce charge of external reality.
J. Michael Dash is professor of French and social and cultural analysis at New York University. Born in Trinidad, he has worked extensively on Haitian literature and French Caribbean writers, especially Edouard Glissant, many of whose works he has translated into English, including The Ripening (1985), Caribbean Discourse (1989), and Monsieur Toussaint (2005). Dash's publications include Literature and Ideology in Haiti (1981), Haiti and the United States (1988), Edouard Glissant (1995), and The Other America: Caribbean Literature in a New World Context(1998). He is also the translator of Gisèle Pineau's The Drifting of Spirits (1999). His most recent books are Libète: A Haiti Anthology (1999), a collection edited with Charles Arthur, and Culture and Customs of Haiti (2001). He is currently completing a book on the francophone Caribbean in the 1940s.
In this personal tribute to Glissant Britton describes some of the most resonant themes of his novels (the idea of changing while still remaining, the significance of place, and his exploration of madness) and the “opaque” poetic characteristics of his style, which extend from the novels and poetry into his theoretical discourse. Glissant's essays display not a linear evolution of thought but the same structure of “changing-remaining.” Also, all his work contains a great deal of autobiographical material; this close imbrication between life and writing is central to his project. Britton recounts some of her memories of time spent with Glissant and his wife, Sylvie, and attempts to give a picture of what he was like as a man: a man for whom the idea of Relation governed both his life and his writing.
Celia Britton is a professor of French and francophone studies at University College, London, and a fellow of the British Academy. She has published widely on French Caribbean literature and thought, especially on the work of Edouard Glissant. Her recent publications include Race and the Unconscious: Freudianism in French Caribbean Thought (2002) and The Sense of Community in French Caribbean Fiction (2008).
Né à la Martinique, le 21 septembre1928, mort à Paris, le 03 février 2011, Edouard Glissant lègue à la postérité une œuvre multiforme. Auteur fécond, puissamment inspiré, il s'est illustré dans les genres les plus divers, poésie, roman, théâtre, nouvelles, essais, à chaque étape de son itinéraire faisant œuvre de témoin agissant. Chantre éloquent de la diversité, du métissage, Glissant a élaboré un important chapitre de l'histoire contemporaine des idées. Il a posé les fondements d'une philosophie de la relation dans deux textes majeurs: Poétique de la Relation (1990) et Traité du Tout-Monde (1997). De cette philosophie de la relation découle une Poétique du divers (1995) dont les catégories unissent à une vision esthétique du monde, une éthique de l'action politique. Diversité, métissage, « creolization » : à une saisie de l'identité comme « identité-souche », pivotante, il importe, affirme Glissant, de substituer une pensée de l' « identité-rhizome ». Ouverte sur le monde, la pensée d'Glissant est constamment soucieuse de nouer les liens nécessaires entre les hommes, leurs histoires, leurs cultures, leurs langues, leurs vies réelles ou imaginaires, afin qu'ils apprennent à s'enrichir mutuellement et réciproquement de leurs différences.
Roger Toumson was born in Guadeloupe in 1946. He is a writer, literary theorist, essayist, and poet. His earliest works engaged with those of his predecessors in the Negritude movement. Subsequently, he became interested in questions of cultural métissage and was one of the first of his generation to propose a vision of humanity as radically free from definitions of race or color, a theme suggested in the title of one of his most influential works, La transgression des couleurs (1990).
Daniel Morel was born in Haiti in 1951. On 12 November 1964 he witnessed the public execution in Port-au-Prince of Louis Drouin and Marcel Numa—the last two survivors of the group Jeune Haïti (Young Haiti), which had planned to overthrow the regime of François "Papa Doc" Duvalier. The next day, a photographer who had recorded the rebels' deaths posted the frame-by-frame images in the front of his studio. According to Morel, it was a gruesome sight for a young child, but it made him realize that he wanted to take pictures, too: "I thought that by being a photographer I would learn not to be scared of anything." For over twenty years, Morel has documented his native country, capturing its culture, history, and people. His photographs have appeared in the New York Times, Vanity Fair, and the Wall Street Journal. He was the resident photographer for the Associated Press for fourteen years, until 2004, and has received a Citation for Excellence from the Overseas Press Club of America, the AP Award of Excellence, and the Sam Chavkin Prize for Integrity in Latin American Journalism. He has been the recipient of grants from the Soros/Open Society Foundation Documentary Photo Project to host a series of photo exhibitions in Haiti and New York aimed at enabling Haitian Americans and Haitians in Haiti to address their past and collaborate toward a positive future. As a producer, his film projects include Unfinished Country, about the Haiti elections, aired on Wide Angle on PBS in 2006, and When the Drum Is Beating, a feature-length documentary, currently in postproduction, about the revered Haitian big band Septentrional.
A description and analysis of the symbiotic relationship between Vodou-inspired arts and the political, economic, and social calamities that have enveloped Haiti in the last half-century, from the Duvalier dictatorships to the recent election of Michel (“Sweet Micky”) Martelly. Cosentino particularly focuses on the paintings of Edouard Duval-Carrié, the bricolage of Pierrot Barra and Marie Cassaise, the beaded tableaux of Rudy Azor and Myrlande Constant, and the postapocalyptic sculptures of a collective of contemporary Haitian artists who call themselves Atis rezistans.
Donald Cosentino is professor emeritus in the Department of World Arts and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has published widely on black Atlantic art, oral traditions, religion, and myth, based on fieldwork in Haiti, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria, as well as in Los Angeles. He is the author of Defiant Maids and Stubborn Farmers: Tradition and Invention in Mende Story Performance (1982) and Vodou Things: The Art of Pierrot Barra and Marie Cassaise (1998). He is the editor and chief writer of the award-winning catalog for The Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou(1995), a traveling exhibition he curated for the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. He is currently writing on evolving religious traditions in urban Afro-Atlantis.
Engaging Matthew J. Smith's recent book Red and Black in Haiti: Radicalism, Conflict, and Political Change, 1934–1957, Deibert argues that Smith covers a pivotal and heretofore largely ignored two-decade period in the nation's development. Deibert shows that the battle to form a responsive and decent government in Haiti is the heritage of a collective struggle made up of actors from different strata of Haitian society, the complex intermingling of which Smith does an admirable job of trying to disentangle.
Michael Deibert is a journalist, author, and visiting fellow at the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies at Coventry University. His writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, the Miami Herald, Le Monde diplomatique, and Folha de São Paulo, among other publications. In his role at Coventry University, he aids the center in its mission to increase and sustain dialogue on international peacebuliding and development issues, with a particular focus on Africa and Latin America. He is the author of Notes from the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti (2005).
This article examines the benefits and limitations of radicalism in Haiti during the post–US occupation period—1934–57. This critical and underexplored period, which Matthew J. Smith examines in his Red and Black in Haiti: Radicalism, Conflict, and Political Change, 1934–1957, brought about a reevaluation of political and economic ideas, laws, and relationships critical to the development of the nation-state. Additionally, post–US occupation was one of several key moments when a notion of a new Haiti proved fruitful for activists and thinkers of the day, who believed in the transformation of Haitian society. This idea of a “new” Haiti, which is rooted in nineteenth- and twentieth-century independence struggles and political and economic challenges, resounds in the current postearthquake era.
Millery Polyné is an assistant professor at New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study. He is the author of From Douglass to Duvalier: US African Americans, Haiti, and Pan Americanism, 1870-1964 (2010).
In this essay Matthew J. Smith revisits the central arguments made in Red and Black in Haiti: Radicalism, Conflict, and Political Change, 1934–1957 and explains their relevance in understanding Haiti's political course since the Duvalier era. He responds to the essays of Millery Polyné and Michael Deibert, and addresses some of the comments made by others about the book. The importance to Haitian history of the years following the end of the US occupation is emphasized, as are the lessons of this much overlooked past. These lessons, Smith argues, provide a useful framework for contemplating developments in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
Matthew J. Smith is a senior lecturer in history at the University of the West Indies, Mona. His main research interests include Haitian political and social history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the history of Haitian migration. He is the author of Red and Black in Haiti: Radicalism, Conflict, and Political Change, 1934-1957 (2009).