Monday, August 22, 2016

A Plea for Consistent Haitian Solidarity and Social Activism in the Haitian Diaspora

A Plea for Consistent Haitian Solidarity and Social Activism in the Haitian Diaspora
by Celucien L. Joseph

One of the contributing factors to Haiti's continual abject poverty, economic dilemma, and the decline of Haiti's civil and political societies lies in the lack of active financial and intellectual investments in Haiti's educational programs, as well as development projects--from the most resourceful Haitian professionals and thinkers in the Haitian Diaspora.

Whenever Haitians do not take ownership of the resources of their country and are hesitant to participate in the reconstruction and development processes of Haiti, we make a way for the infiltration of NGOs, neocolonization, imperial abuse, as well as for more foreign private sectors or foreign-government-supported programs and investors--both religious and non-religious-- that land in the country to exploit and abuse the Haitian people and the underclass majority. Some of these individuals and organizations come to Haiti under the banner and mask of humanitarian and Christian organizations; they are the tools of the empire and the devil himself to subdue, oppress, and rule over our people, and block our collective agency and emancipation.

It has been proven by scientific research and empirical studies that most foreign aids have not worked in Haiti and are still not working effectively to alleviate poverty, create jobs, and radically transform Haiti's dying and malfunctioning educational system. This is chiefly due to the intentions, goals, and strategic methods of dispensing those foreign supports and aids.

We need to change our collective attitude of waiting on the white man, white missionaries, and foreign interventions to come to save us from our misery and predicament. I'm just tired of waiting. I'm tired of receiving and expecting foreign aids that do not heal or repair our wounds, but rather prolong our suffering and keep us in a state of consistent dependency. Are you too not tired? This colonial mindset needs to go so we can make room for the deliberate decolonization of our minds and actions.

Ladies and Gentlemen in the Haitian Diaspora: We ought to be a people of a cause and a community known for its unrelenting service, giving, and investment in Haiti's present and future.

Join a cause Today to make the children, and young men and women in Haiti proud of themselves and dream of a different world and a more promising future. Let's join our hands together with men and women of good will to renew the Haitian society and foster optimistic future possibilities in the best interest of our people and for the proud of our beloved Ayiti Cherie.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Price-Mars as Haiti's Prophet, and the Future of Haiti in the Twenty-First Century (Part II)

Price-Mars as Haiti's Prophet, and the Future of Haiti in the Twenty-First Century (Part II)
by Celucien L. Joseph
  
As we have observed in the previous article the optimistic Price-Mars was very anxious about the future of his beloved country and the destiny of young Haitian men and women in the second half of the twentieth-century in the post-American occupation Haitian society. In the excerpt taken directly from "The Vocation of the Elite," Jean Price-Mars, depicting himself as Haiti's prophet of the twentieth-century, laments terribly on the Haitian predicament and future possibilities for all Haitian citizens--especially the welfare of the Haitian masses and the underclass. He does not take the liberty to predict the Haitian future; as a social prophet, he is deeply concerned about what the future holds for those living in the margins of modernity in the Caribbean nation. The psychological discomfort expressed in this passage not only reveals Price-Mars' patriotic zeal, but also a sense of urgency for Haitian solidarity and collaborative partnership--toward a transformed Haitian society.

I do not know what will become of Haiti's around the year 2050, because the confused data I have are obscuring my anticipations. I see an elite thirsty for lively pleasures, without zeal or faith whatsoever. And what is even more serious, it has lost the sense of solidarity both social and ethnic. For, you see, no greater offense can can be done to a man of our elite than to tell him he is a Negro--whatever may be the color of his skin, black as the night or fair as the day.

Ah! one may be a refined Black--please admire the euphemism--marabou, griffe, chabine, mulatto, white. But to be Negro, collectively and conventionally speaking, no one deigns or wants to be so. However, it is the fact that we are Negroes that gives us some originality.

I do not know what will become of this country in a not too distant future when I look at the mass of the people bound by the fetters of ignorance under a superficial sprinkling of formal Catholicism, while the elite camouflage their shortcomings under an attitude of elegant detachment. Anarchy at the base and cowardice and hypocrisy at the top. I do not know what will become of this country--maybe a mere geographical expression in the American Mediterranean, inhabited by the industrial pariahs.

Source: Price-Mars, La Vocation of the Elite, translated by Jacques Carmeleau Antoine, Jean Price-Mars and Haiti, p. 132.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Jean Price-Mars and the Future of Haiti in the Twenty-first Century: On Haitian Solidarity, and the Renewal and Reconstruction of the Haitian society



Jean Price-Mars and the Future of Haiti in the Twenty-first Century: On Haitian Solidarity, and the Renewal and Reconstruction  of the Haitian society
 by Celucien L. Joseph 

 In writing The Vocation of the Elite in the first half of the twentieth-century, a collection of public lectures on the moral leadership and responsibility of Haitian intellectuals he delivered in various locations in the country , the Haitian public intellectual and cultural critic Jean Price-Mars makes a clarion call to this represented group in the Haitian society to assume its leadership role and function. He writes with passion, conviction, brilliance, and persuasion on the importance of the Haitian elite to be in active solidarity with the Haitian masses, to serve them sacrificially, and to seek the best interest of the underclass and the uneducated majority-- toward the common good. Comparatively, Price-Mars is also concerned about the significance of the work of Haitian democracy and human relationality, and the triumph of Haitian solidarity and the success of " group kombite;" if Haitians in his time and by implication in  contemporary Haitian society would thrive, they would have to create an alternative future and more promising civil and political societies in the Caribbean nation. His goal was then and as it is for us today is arguably the holistic renewal, radical transformation and reconstruction of the Haitian society. Price-Mars published The Vocation of the Elite in 1919 in an era of national anguish and collective alienation; Haiti and the Haitian people were under the hostage of the American imperial might and military occupation, 1915-1934. We should also bear in mind that  Price-Mars delivered these series of lectures to the Haitian intelligentsia and elite-minority in the country. Below, I reproduce an excerpt from The Vocation of the Elite, in which he calls upon the Haitian intelligentsia and elite-minority to radically change the Haitian human condition by investing in the education of the Haitian masses for a better tomorrow. In this piece below, Price-Mars accentuates the importance of group social work and the active participation of the noted group above in the democratic process of Haiti, as well as in the modernization process of Haiti through effective education, mentoring, and adequate financial investment.

Our task at the moment is to contribute to a national way of thinking indicative of our feelings, our strengths and our weaknesses. We can do so by gleaning ideas generated by ideas contained in the masterpieces which are the pride of humanity's common heritage. This is the only way in which the study and assimilation of the works of the mind play an indispensable part in the enrichment of our culture.

But by the way, what is the true qualitative and quantitative worth of our intellectual achievements? That is yet another question which I have asked myself and that I have attempted to answer... Consider for a moment the deficiencies of our education system which were cited earlier. Think of the consequences if our elite had inadequate and unreliable schooling. Lastly, consider the various factors dividing our people into mistrustful, hostile groups opposing each other and you will agree with me that together, all those factors turn our social environment into an arena very ripe for the seed of disorder and destruction. You will also agree with me that of necessity, such an environment exerts an extremely destructive force on the morale of our country, making any attempt at sustained progress impossible. You will agree in short that together, these factors continue to make us responsible for the state of affairs through which an outsider dared raise his flag on the moral ruins of our country.

So, to assist in the reconstruction of our country on a different foundation, to have the elite and the masses exist in harmony in this reconstructed arena, I launch a firm appeal to all men, to all men of good will. The task before us is immense. Whatever its future status, our bounden duty is not is not to abandon our country, nor to let it be snatched away. If we remain with our arms folded in perpetual expectation of what will be will be, what will be will come about without us and against us. Our only alternative is to come together, to unite our forces through the creation of private social programmes. We have maintained an atavistic trait of mistrust one for the other and a pronounced reluctance--I almost said an inability--to unite. These are the main weaknesses used against us. Because of this impotence, we appear to be not only below other civilized peoples, but also quite below what we were when our enslaved forefathers united to oust the intruder from this land and far below our brothers in the United States.

Whenever I receive newspapers from that country [United States of America], my heart is filled with joy and I applaud what our American brothers are doing, while I feel ashamed at our inferiority because we can not imitate them. Would you like like some examples? Here is what I learned from the November issue of Crisis, a Negro magazine published in New York:

1. "The fortieth meeting of Free Masons in Alabama collected funds for the Lodge this year totaling $ 118, 855."

2. "At the 23rd meeting of the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission in Virginia, $ 11, 000 was collected for religious work."

3. "At a conversion held in Tyler, Texas, Bishop Carter of the African Episcopal Church collected $ 14, 000 on the spot for work in education."

4. "The Negroes of Texas have given $ 10,000 to the Freedman's Aid Society to assist with its school programmes."

So there you have it. In one year, our brothers in a single American state collected $ 24, 000 tax free for religious and social work, from among only 690, 049 Negroes, almost three times less the size of Haiti's population. Are we not ashamed that with a population of two and a half million we can offer nothing that even remotely resembles such initiatives and such social solidarity? Are we so selfish or so indifferent that we can't impose a certain discipline for the defense of our rights and interests? Can't we set aside a mere tenth of our resources, even a tenth of what we spend on pleasure, for educational projects on which the safeguard and the future of our children depend? Of course, we readily spend thousands on clubs for fun and games and on the cinema, but we can't support a good literary magazine, set up clinics and night schools or build good secondary schools where, in contrast to the dilapidated schools provided by a State negligent of its mission or a traitor to it, we could provide a better education for the elite of tomorrow?

Shame! Shame on you who don't have the courage to devote your energies to a worthwhile activity in cordial cooperation with other conscientious entities in order to achieve the well-being of our people and our country.

I hear it being said everyday that nothing more can be done because we have no political power. That's the resignation of slaves and cowardice of eunuchs. On the contrary, against the state, whether local or foreign, we must pit the demands of the society in its desire to overcome any attempts to demoralize it.

All branches of society--the Church, the school, corporate entities-must have only one doctrine and one goal, which is to save our political heritage. It can only be saved by private groups within the goal of a better provision of a better education system.
Make a methodological, rational effort and if you don't succeed, try again. It is only when you have exhausted all your initiative and good will that you can look back forlornly on the past and say with regret: "Nothing more can be done."

Until that time comes, you have an obligation to keep o trying.

Source: Jean Price-Mars, "The Vocation of the Elite," translated by Bernadette Farquhar, in Yanique Hume and Aaron Kamugisha, "Caribbean Cultural Thought: From Plantation to Diaspora," pp. 25-7.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Vodou Books Discounted Order Forms/Flyers

Hello, Friends:  Attached are the discounted flyers and order forms for both books:  Vodou in Haitian Memory: The Idea and Representation of Vodou in Haitian Imagination (Lexington Books, May 2016) by Celucien L. Joseph and Nixon Cleophat,  and Vodou in the Haitian Experience: A Black Atlantic Perspective (Lexington Books, May 2016) by Celucien L. Joseph and Nixon Cleophat.
With this flyer and order form , you can purchase both texts at a substantial discounted price. Click on the individual link below to download the form. It is in the PDF format.
Please circulate widely! 

vodouea 

Joseph & Cleophat Vodou in the Haitian Experience International Flyer2


vodoub 

Joseph & Cleophat Vodou in Haitian Memory International Flyer1

Friday, April 15, 2016

Vodou, I remember: Two New Books on Haitian Vodou


We would like to announce the publication of two important books on Haitian Vodou.  Vodou in the Haitian Experience: A Black Atlantic Perspective , and Vodou in Haitian Memory: The Idea and Representation of Vodou in Haitian Imagination, which are edited by Drs. Celucien L. Joseph and Nixon Cleophat, are published by Lexington Books (2016).  Both texts can be ordered on the publisher's website, amazon.com, or any online bookstore.
vodouea

Description

One glaring lacuna in studies of Haitian Vodou is the scarcity of works exploring the connection between the religion and its main roots, traditional Yoruba religion. Discussions of Vodou very often seem to present the religion in vacuo, as a sui generis phenomenon that arose in Saint-Domingue and evolved in Haiti, with no antecedents. What is sorely needed then is more comparative studies of Haitian Vodou that would examine its connections to traditional Yoruba religion and thus illuminate certain aspects of its mythology, belief system, practices, and rituals. This book seeks to bridge these gaps.

Vodou in the Haitian Experience studies comparatively the connections and relationships between Vodou and African traditional religions such as Yoruba religion and Egyptian religion. Such studies might enhance our understanding of the religion, and the connections between Africa and its Diaspora through shared religious patterns and practices. The general reader should be mindful of the transnational and transcultural perspectives of Vodou, as well as the cultural, socio-economic, and political context which gave birth to different visions and ideas of Vodou.

The chapters in this collection tell a story about the dynamics of the Vodou faith and the rich ways Vodou has molded the Haitian narrative and psyche. The contributors of this book examine this constructed narrative from a multicultural voice that engages critically the discipline of ethnomusicology, drama, performance, art, anthropology, ethnography, economics, literature, intellectual history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, religion, and theology. Vodou is also studied from multiple theoretical approaches including queer, feminist theory, critical race theory, Marxism, postcolonial criticism, postmodernism, and psychoanalysis.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Contemporary and Transnational Vodou, and the African Perspective
Celucien L. Joseph and Nixon Cleophat
Part I. Vodou, Anthropology, Art, Performance, and the Black Diaspora
  1. Roots / Routes / Rasin: Rural Vodou and the Sacred Tree as Metaphor for the Multiplicity of Styles in Folkloric Dance and Mizik Rasin
Ann E. Mazzocca
  1. Circling the Cosmogram: Vodou Aesthetics, Feminism, and Queer Art in the
Second-Generation Haitian Dyaspora
Kantara Souffrant
  1. Dancing Difference and Disruption: Vodou Liturgy and Little Haiti on the Hill in “Seven Guitars”
Barbara Lewis
  1. Decoding Dress: Vodou, Cloth and Colonial Resistance in Pre- and Postrevolutionary Haiti
Charlotte Hammond
Part II. Vodou and African Traditional Religions
  1. The African Origin of Haitian Vodou: From the Nile Valley to the Haitian Valleys
Patrick Delices
  1. New World/Old World Vodun , Creolité, and the Alter-Renaissance
Bronwyn Mills
  1. The vibratory art of Haiti: a Yoruba heritage
Patricia Marie-Emmanuelle Donatien
  1. Ethnographic Interpretations of Traditional African Religious Practices and Haitian Vodou Ceremonial Rites in Zora Neale Hurston’s (1938) Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Maya Deren’s (1983) Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti
Tammie Jenkins
  1. Oversouls and Egregores in Haitian Vodou
Patricia Scheu (Mambo Vye Zo Komande LaMenfo)
  1. Arabian Religion, Islam and Haitian Vodou:
The “Recent African Single-Origin Hypothesis” and the Comparison of World Religions
Benjamin Hebblethwaite and Michel Weber
vodoub

Description

Throughout Haitian history—from 17th century colonial Saint-Domingue to 21st century postcolonial Haiti—arguably, the Afro-Haitian religion of Vodou has been represented as an “unsettling faith” and a “cultural paradox,” as expressed in various forms and modes of Haitian thought and life including literature, history, law, politics, painting, music, and art. Competing voices and conflicting ideas of Vodou have emerged from each of these cultural symbols and intellectual expressions. The Vodouist discourse has not only pervaded every aspect of the Haitian life and experience, it has defined the Haitian cosmology and worldview. Further, the Vodou faith has had a momentous impact on the evolution of Haitian intellectual, aesthetic, and literary imagination; comparatively, Vodou has shaped Haitian social ethics, sexual and gender identity, and theological discourse such as in the intellectual works and poetic imagination of Jean Price-Mars, Dantes Bellegarde, Jacques Roumain, Jacques Stephen Alexis, etc. Similarly, Vodou has shaped the discourse on the intersections of memory, trauma, history, collective redemption, and Haitian diasporic identity in Haitian women’s writings such as in the fiction of Edwidge Danticat, Myriam Chancy, etc.
The chapters in this collection tell a story about the dynamics of the Vodou faith and the rich ways Vodou has molded the Haitian narrative and psyche. The contributors of this book examine this constructed narrative from a multicultural voice that engages critically the discipline of ethnomusicology, drama, performance, art, anthropology, ethnography, economics, literature, intellectual history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, religion, and theology. Vodou is also studied from multiple theoretical approaches including queer, feminist theory, critical race theory, Marxism, postcolonial criticism, postmodernism, and psychoanalysis.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Towards New Visions and New Approaches to the Vodou Religion
Celucien L. Joseph and Nixon CleophatPart I: Vodou, Modernity, Resistance, and Haitian Cultural Identity and Nationalism
Chapter One: James Theodore Holly, Fabre Geffrard, and the Construction of a “Civilized’ Haiti”
Brandon R. Byrd
Chapter Two: Oath To Our Ancestors: The Flag of Haiti is Rooted in Vodou
Patrick Delices
Part II. Vodou, Vodouphobia, and Haitian Male Intellectuals and Cultural Critics
Chapter Three: The Role of Vodou in the Religious Philosophy of Jean Price-Mars
Celucien L. Joseph
Chapter Four: Jacques Stephen Alexis, Haitian Vodou and Medicine: Between Cure and Care
Shallum Pierre
Part III. Vodou, Christian Theology, and Collective Redemption
Chapter Five: Haitian Vodou: The Ethics of Social Sin & the Praxis of Liberation
Nixon S. Cleophat
Chapter Six: Vodouphobia and Afrophobic Discourse in Haitian Thought: An Analysis of Dantès Bellegarde’s Religious Sensibility
Celucien L. Joseph
Chapter Seven: Haitian Vodou, a Politico-Realist Theology of Survival: Resistance in the Face of Colonial Violence and Social Suffering
Nixon S. Cleophat
Part IV. Vodou, Memory, Trauma, and Haitian Women Intellectuals and Cultural Critics
Chapter Eight: Vodou Symbolism and “Poto Mitan:” Women in Edwidge Danticat’s Work
Myriam Moïse
Chapter Nine: Writing from lòt bò dlo: Vodou Aesthetics and Poetics in Edwidge Danticat and Myriam Chancy
Anne Brüske and Wiebke Beushausen
Chapter Ten: The Economics of Vodou: Haitian Women, Entrepreneurship, and Empowerment
Crystal Andrea Felima

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Brief Reflections on The Crisis of the Haitian Public Intellectual

Brief Reflections on The Crisis of the Haitian Public Intellectual
by Celucien L. Joseph, PhD

The crisis of the Haitian intellectual is that he separates his academic interest from a life of service and activism toward the common good of the Haitian society and the Haitian people. He establishes a great distance and tall fence between himself and the Haitian masses he claims that he is trying to reach and redeem. The Haitian intellectual has no knowledge about the lived-experiences and lived-worlds of the Haitian masses nor does he have any interest to know or learn from the masses. He is not interested in forging a constructive politics of relationality with those who live in the margins of the Haitian society.

The Haitian intellectual isolates himself from the Haitian masses. He is not a servant to the Haitian people or the masses. The Haitian intellectual does not perform self-criticism in order to reevaluate his own conduct or action, thinking or ideas about the nature of things and his public role in the Haitian society as a social critic and a servant to the Haitian people. For him, leadership means an opportunity for one to get rich and be elevated to a position of power and influence—by any means necessary…including the exploitation and dehumanization of the Haitian people. He is devoid of any sense of servant leadership.

The conundrum of the Haitian public intellectual—both in Haiti and the Diaspora—is also his failure to mentor young Haitian scholars and thinkers. The Haitian intellectual sees the rising young Haitian scholars or thinkers in the academia and public sphere as a threat to his own hegemony, academic success, and sphere of influence; the emerging Haitian thinker is not seen as a collaborative partner or someone who can be mentored toward the common good of the nation of Haiti and the welfare of the Haitian people.

The Haitian public intellectual is devoid of any sense of public responsibility and patriotic zeal and love. Contemporary Haitian society is in deep social, economic, political, and cultural trouble because of the profound crisis and ignorance of the Haitian intellectual to serve and lead sacrificially and responsibly. He is a selfish individual who cares only about his individual success and his rise to the top of the ladder. He is an individual with no goals or objectives when it pertains to the development of Haiti; however, he criticizes those with a plan for Haiti’s development. He has no sympathy toward the Haitian masses but criticizes those who are trying to love the people and perform acts of kindness and compassion toward them.

The Haitian public intellectual is an individual with dazzling rhetoric, but his words are meaningless and lack of substance because they do not contribute meaningfully to the improvement of the Haitian condition in Haiti or in the Haitian Diaspora. The Haitian intellectual is a man of word only and not of action. He criticizes the Empire in the public sphere; in the private sphere, he is an ally and servant of the Empire and contributes substantially to the suffering and social death of the Haitian masses. He calls himself a humanist, but he made no humanitarian deeds to justify his delusional thinking. He writes prolifically about human solidarity and collective mobilization, but his life and actions contradict his own thinking or ideas.

The Haitian intellectual is not loving, serving, and aiding his own people. In the twenty-first century, Haiti has produced few engaged, responsible, and organic public intellectuals.The Haitian intellectual has failed Haiti and the Haitian people.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Haiti, the Archive, and the Historical Imagination

Haiti, the Archive, and the Historical Imagination

by 

 

John Mercer Langston, then a professor at Howard University
John Mercer Langston

In the fall of 1877, John Mercer Langston laid on his bed on board the British steamer “Andes.” He was sea-sick and could not leave his cabin. Again. The new U.S. minister and consul general to Haiti was three days into his first trip at sea and so far the voyage from New York City to Cap Haïtien had been miserable.

But the tide would turn. After passing Cape Hatteras, the admitted “novice in sea-faring life” recovered. Langston “enjoyed the trip thereafter with a zest and pleasure real and inspiriting.” He became filled with a thrilling realization: soon he would land in Haiti. In a few short days, he would “behold now for the first time . . . negro nationality in harmonious, honored activity.”
Childhood lessons about Toussaint Louverture did not prepare Langston for his arrival in Haiti. They could not. One week after leaving New York, Langston was stunned when the British captain obeyed orders from Haitian men who came on board the “Andes” to direct it into the harbor. Put simply, he “had never seen up to that time men of their complexion holding such positions and performing such duties.”

As the captain explained, though, Langston was now “in a negro country.” That fact finally hit the U.S. diplomat when he went on shore. A vibrant port city filled with black people conducting their own affairs, controlling their own institutions, and operating (seemingly) outside of the confines of white supremacy was “a new revelation” to Langston. He had only “seen the negro . . . at home, in nominal freedom and dependence. Now he [beheld] him the owner of a great country, the founder and builder of a great government, with a national sovereignty and power respected and honored by all the great Christian civilized powers of the earth.”1

Skyline of Cap Haïtien
Skyline of Cap Haïtien

I arrived in Cap Haïtien two days ago. Stepping off American Airlines Flight 3603, I quickly took in the cool ocean breeze then made a beeline towards customs. I smiled as I approached the waiting agent. “Where are you from,” she asked kindly. “Etazini,” I admitted, my smile turning sheepish. “Ameriken.” She already knew. And I was already moving towards the line for tourists.
I found the only other black person in the tourist line. I gave him the nod. He looked down. My reluctant companion was no more than thirteen or fourteen years old and appeared to be on a school trip along with ten or so classmates. I imagined it was his first time abroad. I imagined he was trying to process what it meant for us to move to the left while every other black person on our flight moved to the right. I imagined that he was trying to understand what it meant to be a blan.

That teen has likely never heard of John Mercer Langston. I had not at his age. I would be surprised if he’s thought in great depth about black political self-determination to the same extent that Langston did. That’s understandable. He has beheld Barack Obama, the president of a great country. He has always seen men of his complexion holding significant positions and performing important duties.
Still, I could not help but think of me, him, and John Mercer Langston as intimately connected. Two arrived in Haiti at a moment when the prospect of replacing the first black president with a white supremacist one looms large. The other disembarked in Cap Haïtien shortly after Reconstruction collapsed under the weight of southern vigilantism and northern indifference. All left the United States not knowing what they might find when they returned.

John Mercer Langston did not publish his recollections of his time in Haiti until a decade after the end of his diplomatic tenure there. By then, black people in the United States were fortifying themselves and their communities against the violent realities of Jim Crow. Still, Langston assumed a tone of optimism and patriotism befitting a staunch advocate of integrationism and a veteran of the abolitionist movement. Indeed, he dedicated his work to
The young, aspiring American, who, by manly and self-reliant effort, would gain standing and influence, serving his day and generation by such personal accomplishment and useful, heroic achievement, as show him worthy of his citizenship . . . He [had] only, therefore, to be true, brave and faithful, to win the highest rewards of dignified life, as bestowed in honors and emoluments by his fellow-citizens.2
Jean-Jacques Dessalines
Jean Jacques Dessalines

That passage and others like it have forced me to grapple with the complexity of Langston’s thought in his final years. The heady days of Reconstruction were long over. A new fight for black freedom had begun and Langston felt obligated to inspire a new generation in those trying times. He told young men like Arthur Dessalines Langston—his son and the namesake of Jean Jacques Dessalines—to know the value of self-improvement but never forget the importance of black self-determination. He left them with his own longings for full inclusion in U.S. public life and his simultaneous sense of belonging to a much larger Afro-diasporic family.

In that respect, his words have also forced me to imagine. After passing through customs and leaving the airport, I took a taxi to my hotel. All the while, I pictured Langston talking to me and the black teen in the customs line. I imagined us together; three travelers linked by their blackness, their passports and the challenge of grasping what it all means.
  1. Quotations from John Mercer Langston, From the Virginia Plantation to the National Capitol, or The First and Only Negro Representative in Congress from the Old Dominion (Hartford, CT: American Publishing Company, 1894), 358-363. 
  2. Ibid., dedication page. 

Vodou and Other Religions: Religion, Religious Affiliation, and Haitian National Identity

Vodou and Other Religions:
Religion, Religious Affiliation, and Haitian National Identity
by Celucien L. Joseph, PhD
 
In this brief post, I would like to communicate a few ideas about three important issues that are intertwined and closely related to each other: religion, religious affiliation, and the construction of self and collective national identity based on certain religious tradition or system. The emphasis of this brief reflection will be on Haitian Vodou and Haitian (national) identity. Here are my 13 propositions:

1. Religious experience could be both personal and collective.

2. Religious piety is not spirituality.

3. Religious affiliation is a choice–at least in most Western societies and nation-states. (I understand it may not be a personal choice in certain countries where religious freedom is limited or not prized!) It is also observed that some countries in the Middle East, for example, have adopted a state religion such as Islam.

4. While a person may be born into a particular religious tradition or system–such as Haitian Vodou, Christianity, Judaism, Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, etc.–genuine religious affiliation, however, should be a personal choice of the individual.

As we say in Kreyol, “Yo pa achte Lwa” (“One cannot buy a Lwa/Spirit) (Nonetheless, I do understand that Vodou is also a family religion, and the religious heritage can be passed on from one generation to the next. However, that in itself does not qualify a family member to automatically become a Vodouizan, a Hougan or Mambo. Allow me to share a personal example: my grandmother from my mother’s side was a mambo (Vodou priestess), and my grandfather from my mother’s side served many lwa, even married to several of them (Spiritual marriage in Vodou). Nonetheless, my mother never practiced Vodou nor has she inherited the tradition or passed it on to her children. My father’s parents (my grandparents) were not Vodou practitioners). From this vantage point, religious affiliation is certainly not an entitlement.

5. Hence, to be born into a Haitian family does not automatically make one a Vodouizan or Vodouist.

6. Haiti is a country. Haitian is a national identity. Vodouizan is a religious affiliation. These three things are not the same and certainly not synonymous or interchangeable.

7. Haitians, both in Haiti and the Haitian Diaspora, have embraced various and competing religious affiliations. Haitians are Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Catholic practitioners, Protestants, Agnostics, Atheists, Secular humanists, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, etc. As a result, Haitians are free to embrace any religious worldview or system.

8. Vodou is one among other religions practiced by Haitians both in Haiti and the Diaspora. Our ancestral faith is not monolithic; it is rather pluralistic. (In fact, Vodou itself is not a homogeneous religion.) Our African ancestors who were brought by force to the island of Saint Domingue brought with them various traditions, practices, customs, and competing religious practices and worldviews including Christianity, African Traditional religions, Islam, etc. While living on the island, they also adopted the religions of the Native Americans, and incorporated them into the religion of Vodou; they have also integrated Christian rituals and theology, and Masonic humanist morality and rituals into Vodou. While a large number of the enslaved population practiced what is now labelled as Haitian Vodou, not all of them were Vodou practitioners.

9. To embrace another religion other than Vodou should not be construed as the devalorization of the Haitian culture—since religions and cultures are human inventions and part of the process and theory we call social constructionism. In a true democratic state, the individual is granted the right of religious freedom and preference.

*The ideology in contemporary Haitian scholarship is that to be Haitian is to be a Vodouizan. Many Haitianist scholars have “essentialized Vodou” as the religion of all Haitians, just like certain individuals have “essentialized” race and culture. This tendency among scholars, both in the Anglophone and Francophone worlds, does not do justice to the reality and the lived-experiences of the Haitian people–both in Haiti and the Haitian Diaspora. I would suggest that Vodou, Christianity, and Islam had played a pivotal role in the Haitian Revolution since Vodou itself is a syncretized faith which integrates Christian moral theology and ritual into its own brand of practice. Secondly, Francois Makandal, Dutty Boukman, and other important maroon leaders, and revolutionary leaders embraced Islam; they were also Vodouizan. Thirdly, the founding fathers Toussaint Louverture and Alexandre Petion were devout Roman Catholic by confession. In 1816, President Petion had invited Protestant Christianity in Haiti–what is now called today “Evangelical Christianity—only 12 yrs after the founding of the new nation of Haiti ( I do understand there is a great divide between Evangelical Christianity of the 19th century and that of the 21st century, as to their political affiliation and theological confessions). Fourthly, a large number of the enslaved Africans practiced Vodou as a religion; on the other hand, the enslaved Congolese who were brought to Saint-Domingue at the end of the 18th century were equally Catholic Christians as Catholicism became the state religion of Congo in early 15th century– even before Christopher Columbus visited the Americas. A large number of the enslaved Senegalese who were brought to the island were Muslims–an important point Jean Price-Mars affirms in Chapter 3 (L’Afrique, ses races et sa civilisation”) in “Ainsi parla l’Oncle.”

In summary, in Haiti’s contemporary society, there are three major religious practices: Vodou, Protestant/Evangelical Christianity, Vodou, Roman Catholicism. (Islam is growing rapidly in Protestant Christianity is practiced by 45% of the Haitian population. It is probably more in 2016–giving the wide spread of Evangelical Christianity in post-earthquake Haitian society.). While Vodou is among the most practiced religions by Haitians in Haiti, Haiti doe not have “one single religious tradition.” Our ancestral faith is also Vodou, Christianity, and Islam.

10. To be a Haitian Muslim or Christian does not make one an inferior Haitian Patriot.

11. In the same line of thought, the Vodouizan is not a superior Haitian than the Haitian atheist or agnostic.

12. Freedom of religion means the opportunity one has to choose or reject a certain faith among others. Religious freedom means a person who is affiliated with a certain religious tradition is free to share his or faith with another individual of a different religious persuasion or to someone who has no religious affiliation.

13. Since religion like culture is a social construction or human invention, no religion or culture has the monopoly.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Call for Papers: “Between Two Worlds: Jean Price-Mars, Haiti, and Africa”

Call for Papers: "Between Two Worlds: Jean Price-Mars, Haiti, and Africa" Edited by Drs. Celucien L. Joseph, Glodel Mezilas, Jean Eddy Saint Paul, and Jhon Byron
Extended Deadline: Thursday, March 31



Jean Price-Mars (1876 – 1969), Haitian physician, ethnographer, diplomat, educator, historian, politician, was a towering intellectual in Haitian history and cultural studies, and a Pan Africanist who called to reevaluate the contributions of Africa in universal civilizations and to revalorize African retentions and cultural practices in the Black diaspora, especially on Haitian soil. Through his writings, Price-Mars, whom Leopold Sedar Senghor called “the Father of Negritude,” sought to establish connecting links between Africa and the Black Diaspora, and the shared history and struggle between people of African descent in the Diaspora.

For many scholars, Price-Mars is the father of Haitian ethnology and Dean of Haitian Studies in the twentieth-century, and arguably, the most influential Haitian thinker that has graced the “Black Republic” since the death of Joseph Auguste Anténor Firmin in 1911. In Haitian thought, Price-Mars has exercised an enduring intellectual and ideological influence on the young Haitian intellectuals and writers of the generation of the American Occupation in Haiti (1915-1934) and the post-Occupation culture from the 1930s to 1970s. He is especially known for launching a cultural nationalism and an anti-imperial movement against the brutal American military forces in Haiti.
The writings of Price-Mars were instrumental in challenging the Haitian intellectual of his leadership role in the Haitian society, and in promoting national consciousness and unity among Haitians of all social classes and against their American oppressor. Comparatively, his work was a catalyst in the process of shaping and reshaping Haitian cultural identity and reconsidering the viability of the Afro-Haitian faith of Vodou as religion among the so-called World religions. His thought anticipated what is known today as postcolonialism and decolonization.

Moreover, scholars have also identified Price-Mars as the Francophone counterpart of W.E.B. Du Bois for his activism, scholarly rigor, leadership efficiency, and his unremitting efforts to challenge Western racial history, ideology, and white supremacy in the modern world. Unapologetically, Price-Mars challenged the doctrine of white supremacy and the ideological construction of Western history by demonstrating the equality and dignity of the races and all people, and their achievements in the human historical narrative. As Du Bois, he was a transdisciplinary scholar, boundary-crosser, and cross-cultural theorist; in an unorthodox way, he had brought in conversation various disciplines including anthropology, ethnography, geography, sociology, history, religion, philosophy, race theory, and literature to study the human condition and the most pressing issues facing the nations and peoples of the world, as well as the possible implications they may bear upon us in the postcolonial moment.

"Between Two Worlds: Jean Price-Mars, Haiti, and Africa" is a special volume on Jean Price-Mars that reassesses the importance of his thought and legacy, and the implications of his ideas in the twenty-first century’s culture of political correctness, the continuing challenge of race and racism, and imperial hegemony in the modern world. Price-Mars’s thought is also significant for the renewed scholarly interests in Haiti and Haitian Studies in North America, and the meaning of contemporary Africa in the world today. This volume explores various dimensions in Price-Mars’ thought and his role as medical doctor, historian, anthropologist, cultural critic, public intellectual, politician, pan-Africanist, and humanist.

Hence, the goal of this book is fourfold: 1) The book will explore the contributions of Price-Mars to Haitian history, thought, culture, literature, politics, education, health, etc., 2) This volume will investigate the complex relationships between Haiti and the Dominican Republic in Price-Mars’ historical writings, 3) It studies Price-Mars’ engagement with Western history and the problem of the “racist narrative,” and 4) Finally, the book will highlight Price-Mars’ contributions to Postcolonialism, Africana Studies, and Pan-Africanism.

If you would like to contribute a book chapter to this important volume, along with your CV, please submit a 300 word abstract by Thursday, March 31, to Dr. Celucien Joseph @ celucienjoseph@gmail.com

Successful applicants will be notified of acceptance in the first week of April, 2016. We are looking for original and unpublished essays for this book. Translations of Price-Mars’ works in the English language are also welcome. Potential topics to be addressed include (but are not limited to) the following:

I. Price-Mars as Historian

• Price-Mars as Historian
• Price-Mars’ engagement with Western history
• Price-Mars’ interpretation of Haitian history
• The function of Haitian heroes and heroines in Price-Mars historical writings
• The Origin (s) and History of Haiti and Dominican Republic in Price-Mars’ works
• Particularism and Universalism in Price-Mars’ historical writings

II. Price-Mars as Cultural Critic and Public Intellectual in Haitian Society

• Price-Mars as cultural theorist and literary critic
• The role of Price-Mars’ thought in the Haitian Renaissance in the first half of the twentieth-century
• Price-Mars and the Crisis of Haitian Intellectuals
• Price-Mars and the Crisis of Haitian bourgeoisie-elite
• Price-Mars, Vodou, and the Haitian culture
• The Haitian peasant in the writings of Price-Mars
• The Education of the Haitian masses in the writings of Price-Mars
• The problem of Race in Price-Mars’ writings
• Haitian Women in the thought of Price-Mars
• Price-Mars’ contributions as Medical doctor in Haitian society.

III. Price-Mars as Politician

• The Political career and goals of Jean Price-Mars
• Price-Mars, Haiti’s Ambassador to the nations
• Price-Mars and the American occupation and American imperialism
• The political philosophy and democratic ideas of Price-Mars
• Nationalism and Patriotism in Price-Mars’ thought

IV. Price-Mars as Pan-Africanist

• African history or the meaning of Africa in the writings of Price-Mars
• The Black Diaspora in the thought of Price-Mars
• Price-Mars’ Postcolonial Rhetoric and Linguistic Strategy
• The Vindication and Rehabilitation of the Black Race
• The Role and Contributions of Pre-African civilizations to world civilizations
• Price-Marsian Negritude or Blackness

About the editors

Bio for  Celucien L. Joseph, PhD
 
Dr. Celucien L. Joseph is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Indian River State College. He received his Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Texas at Dallas, where he studied Literary Studies and Intellectual History. Professor Joseph also holds an M.A. in French language and literature from the University of Louisville. In addition, he holds degrees in theological and religious studies. He serves in the editorial board and Chair of The Journal of Pan African Studies Regional Advisory Board; he also the curator of “Haiti: Then and Now.” He edited JPAS special issue on Wole Soyinka entitled “Rethinking Wole Soyinka: 80 Years of Protracted Engagement” (2015). Dr. Joseph is interested in the intersections of literature, history, race, religion, theology, and history of ideas.

Professor Joseph is the author of several books including Race, Religion, and the Haitian Revolution: Essays on Faith, Freedom, and Decolonization (2012), From Toussaint to Price-Mars: Rhetoric, Race, and Religion in Haitian Thought (2013), Haitian Modernity and Liberative Interruptions: Discourse on Race, Religion, and Freedom (2013), God Loves Haiti (2015). He has also contributed several encyclopedia entries and scholarly articles in various journals. His forthcoming book is entitled Thinking in Public: Faith, Secular Humanism, and Development in Jacques Roumain (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2016). He is the lead editor of a forthcoming two volume anthology entitled Vodou in Haitian Memory: The Idea and Representation of Vodou in Haitian Imagination (Collection 1), and Vodou in the Haitian Experience: A Black Atlantic Perspective (Collection 2)—to be published by Lexington Books in 2016. He is currently working on a volume on Jean-Bertrand Aristide, former President of Haiti and Catholic-Priest Liberation Theology entitled Aristide: A Theological and Political Introduction (under contract with Fortress Press).

Academic Bio of Jean Eddy Saint Paul, PhD, Sociologist,
Professor of Sociology and Politics
Universidad of Guanajuato (Guanajuato, Mexico).

Jean Eddy Saint Paul is a Haitian scholar and social scientist. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology from El Colegio de México (2008), an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá (2002) and a B.A. in Social Work from the State University of Haiti. Dr. Saint Paul is a Professor of Politics and Sociology whose specializations include Religions, Citizenship, and Democracy, and Elites, Political Discourse and Ideologies. He currently works as a Professor for the Division of Law, Politics and Government at the Universidad of Guanajuato (Guanajuato, Mexico). He is also a regular Professor at the Inter-Institutional Doctorate (Ph.D.) Program in Law. Dr. Saint Paul is one of the founders of the Doctorate Program in Law, Politics and Government, and the Master Program in Political Analysis at the Universidad de Guanajuato. He usually teaches in the undergraduate and graduate programs and offers courses such as “Political Science”, “Sociological Theory”, “Politics and Religions”, “Political Theory” and “Qualitative Research Methods.” Before joining the University of Guanajuato, Dr. Saint Paul was a visiting professor of “Comparative Politics” and “Political Theory” at the Ph.D. Program in Political Science and Master Program in Sociology at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City.

Prof. Saint Paul’s work covers an unusually broad spectrum of topic including Historical Sociology of Politics, Politics and Religions (Secular State for Civil Liberties and Human Rights), Civil Society, Politics of Memory and Citizenship, Civil Society and Democratization from a Political & Sociological Perspective, Sociology of Violence, Patrimonialism, Neopatrimonialism, and Politics of the Belly. A Member of the National System of Scholars-CONACyT, level 1, Professor Jean Eddy Saint Paul was in 2013 a “Visiting Scholar” at the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia (Charlottesville, Va. United States of America) and previously in 2011 was a “Visiting Fellow” at the Centre d’études et de recherches internationales (Centre for International Studies and Research (CERI), SciencesPo, CNRS, Paris.

Dr. Saint Paul conducts research on Latin America and the Caribbean, and has published his works in prestigious national and international press, like Karthala (Paris), Maison des sciences de l’homme (Paris) and El Colegio de México (Mexico). Among his recent publications on Haiti, it is important to mention: Chimè et Tontons Macoutes comme milices armées en Haïti. Essai sociologique, published in 2015 by the Cidihca press in Montreal (Québec), Canada; “La laïcité en Haïti. Approche sociologique des erreurs épistémologiques et théoriques dans les débats récents,” published in the international Peer Review Journal: Histoire, Monde et Cultures Religieuses (HMC), Thematic Number: Etat, Religions et Politique en Haïti (XVIII-XXI siècles), # 29, April 15, 2014, Paris: Karthala, pp. 83-100. ISBN: 9782811111540. Currently, he is working on two new books: Duvalierism, Rhetoric and Political Practices, and Civil Society and Politics of Memory in Haiti”.
Prof. Saint Paul is fluent in Haitian Creole, French, English and Spanish.

https://ugto.academia.edu/JeanEddySaintPaul.
Email address: jsaintpaul@yahoo.fr or jsaint@colmex.mx
Professional link: https://ugto.academia.edu/JeanEddy
His new book: Chimè et Tontons Macoutes comme milices armées en Haïti. Essai Sociologique. Montreal, Ca.: Cidihca, 2015.
http://lenouvelliste.com/…/Chime-et-tontons-macoutes-la-log…
http://lenouvelliste.com/…/Chime-et-tontons-macoutes-la-log…
Skype: Jean Eddy Saint Paul (Charlottesville)

Bio for Glodel Mezillas, PhD

Glodel Mezillas is a political scientist, diplomat, theorist, philosopher, and a scholar of Caribbean and Latin American Studies. He received his PhD in Latin American Studies from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM), a Master’s degree in International Studies from Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 2001-2002. He also studied at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) of the Université d’Etat d’Haïti, UEH), from which he received a Bachelor’s degree in Modern Letters, and at the Université Toussaint Louverture a B.A. in Political Sciences He has also done special studies in Diplomacy and International Politics at Escuela Diplomática de Madrid, and in International Public Administration (ONU) at the École Nationale d’Administration de Paris, Institut des Relations Internationales du Cameroun (IRIC),and at the Institut des Nations Unies de la Recherche et la Formation (UNITAR), he specialized in the field of United Nations System.

Dr. Mezillas has served as Professor of Genealogy of Postcolonialism at Instituto de Estudios Críticos, of International Relations and the Caribbean Studies at the Institut d'Études et Recherches Africaines (IERAH) de l'Université d'État d'Haiti, of International Relations at Université Polyvalente (Haiti), and Professor of Political Sciences and Epistemology of Social Sciences at the Université Toussaint Louverture. His teaching and scholarly research interests include Black Diaspora, Cultural, Political Theory and Epistemology of Social Sciences in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Dr. Mezillas is a prolific writer and has published in three languages English, Spanish, and French. His books including Que signifie philosopher en Haïti? Un nouveau concept du Vodou (L'Harmattan, 2015), El trauma colonial, entre la memoria y el discurso. Pensar (desde) el Caribe (EDUCAVISION, 2015), Qu’est-ce qu’une crise. Eléments d’une théorie critique (L’Harmattan, 2014), Civilisation et discours d’altérité. Enquête sur l’Islam, l’Occident et le Vodou (EDUCAVISION, 2014), Généalogie de la théorie sociale en Amérique Latine (Editions de l’Université d’Etat d’Haïti, 2013), and Haití más allá del espejo (Editorial Praxis, 2011).
E-mail address: glodelmezilas@hotmail.com

Bio for Jhon Picard Byron, PhD

Dr Byron is a Professor and Researcher at the Faculté d’Ethnologie at the State University of Haiti (UEH). His research interests are centered around Jean Price Mars’s work and legacy as well as the Construction of culture and citizenry in Haiti and the Caribbean. He is the Chair of a Research Unit working on Language, Discourses and Representations (LADIREP) and the Coordinator of the Masters Programme in Social Anthropology at the Faculté d’Ethnologie. His most recent publication is “La pensée de Jean Price-Mars : entre construction politique de la nation et affirmation de l’identité culturelle haïtienne.” In Production du savoir et construction sociale. L’ethnologie en Haïti. He has two forthcoming publications: one on the influence of Haitian Anthropology at the origin of François Duvalier’s discourse and the other on Jean Price Mars and the transformation of Haitian Anthropology: challenges and stakes.
E-mail: jpicard.byron@gmail.com


Sincerely,
Celucien L. Joseph, PhD
Assistant Professor of English
Indian River State College
Curator of “Haiti: Then and Now”
http://www.haitithenandnowhtn.com/

Jean Eddy Saint Paul, PhD
Professor of Sociology and Politics
Universidad of Guanajuato (Guanajuato, Mexico)
Email address: jsaintpaul@yahoo.fr or jsaint@colmex.mx
Professional link: https://ugto.academia.edu/JeanEddy

Glodel Mezilas, PhD
Counselor and Diplomat
Haitian Embassy in Spain

Jhon Picard Byron, PhD
Professor and Researcher at Faculté d’Ethnologie
State University of Haiti (UEH).

Friday, February 12, 2016

Haiti and the Americas Reviewed by Tammie Jenkins, PhD



Calarge, Carla, Raphael Dalleo, Luis Duno-Gottberg, and Clevis Headley, eds. Haiti and the Americas. Jackson, Mississippi: University of Mississippi Press, 2013. ISBN: 978-1617037573. 256 pp. Reviewed by Tammie Jenkins, PhD




            Haiti and the Americas, edited by Carla Calarge, Raphael Dalleo, Luis Duno-Gottberg, and Clevis Headley, is a collection of essays that provide the reader with contemporary interpretations of Haiti as more than the sum of its revolutionary roots in the New World. Exploring Haiti as a seat of transnationalism, in the diasporic world, each contributor uses Haiti’s complicated history as a point of departure while placing the island nation on a global stage as a powerful ally and symbol of empowerment whose narratives of freedom sparked discontentment among other European colonies in the Western hemisphere. The volume begins with a detailed introduction written by Raphael Dalleo that provides the scope and sequence for collection. With Dalleo introduction laying the foundation, Haiti and the Americas presents Haiti as “a crossroads to the Americas” (3) as each essay articulates its author’s linguistic vision regarding the role that Haiti played in the creation of other independent nations and countries during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as well as its contemporary representations in the twentieth-first century.
            Advocating a sense of solidarity centered on Haiti’s early contributions to other Caribbean colonies anchored in the belief that they were all connected by a “shared history of slavery and imperialism” (60). Featuring nine chapters, an afterword, and an index, Haiti and the Americas, is subdivided into four sections united by overlapping themes of freedom: Part 1: “Haiti and Hemispheric Independence,” Part 2: “Haiti and Transnational Blackness,” Part 3: “The U. S. Occupation,” and Part 4: “Globalization and Crisis.” Highlighting Haiti’s role as a sanctuary for free people of color in the Caribbean, Sibylle Fischer’s Bolivar in Haiti Republicanism in the Revolutionary Atlantic uses correspondences exchanged between Bolivar and Petion to examine the ways in which Haiti inspired and supported Bolivar’s struggle for independence in Venezuela during the nineteenth century. Continuing along this vein, Mathew Casey’s Between Anti-Humanism and Anti-Imperialism: Haitian and Cuban Political Collaborations in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries draws on the relationships between Haitians, Latin Americans, and Caribbean Creoles to document the ways that these people worked to free themselves and others from European rule. Connecting Haiti with other nations and countries in the Caribbean, Fischer’s and Casey’s essays lay the foundation for the discussion of Pan-Africanism and its role in these conversations.
            Part 2: “Haiti and Transnational Blackness,” investigates the growth of Pan-Africanism throughout the Caribbean, Africa, and the United States. Viewed as a production of dialogical exchanges and social interactions between expatriates from the Harlem Renaissance and intellectuals from former Francophone colonies such as Martinique and Algeria, Pan-Africanism emerged as a source of racial pride centered on an appreciation for Africa and the cultural heritage of diasporic Black people. In Haiti, Pan-Africanism, and Black Atlantic Writing Resistance, Jeff Karem positions the development of Pan-African ideology in Haiti as a reaction to international interference in the island nation’s political, social, and economic affairs. A new symbol of Haitian freedom, David R. Kilroy’s Being a Member of the Colored Race: The Mission of Charles Young, Military Attache to Haiti, 1904-1907 uses Young’s experiences to examine the development of “Pan-African ideologies” (77) as a response to racism and marginalization experienced by inhabitants on the island. Deconstructing perspectives of Haiti as a spectral presence in the New World, the second section of Haiti and the Americas provides the reader with positive images of Haiti by rewriting its narratives into large discourses of freedom.
            Shifting from the reconstruction of Haitian history during the years immediately following the revolution through the early twentieth century, Part 3: “The U. S. Occupation,” studies Haiti as a tactical location in “a larger Caribbean geostrategic puzzle” (99) used by writers and artists in their verbal and visual representations of the island nation. Drawing on American literary and cinematic uses of the Haitian Revolution this section presents essays that juxtapositions Haitian history with Black peoples’ disenfranchisement in the United States. In Haiti’s Revisionary Haunting of Charles Chesnutt’s “Careful” History in Paul Marchand, F. M. C., Bethany Aery Clerico situates Haiti in the lived experiences of Black people in the United States in ways that connect their struggle for a self-defined cultural identity with that of Haiti’s struggle for freedom in the New World. This theme is one that resurfaces in Lindsay Twa’s The Black Magic Island: The Artistic Journeys of Alexander King and Aaron Douglas form and to Haiti as the author considers how members of the Harlem Renaissance drew inspiration for their literary and artistic forms of cultural expression. Using verbal and visual renderings of Haiti and Haitian life, Harlem Renaissance writers and artists used their texts to feed the larger society’s curiosity for stories of their lived experiences and social realities in ways that reflected the sociopolitical climate of the times. This is a study that Nadeve Menard continues in Foreign Impulses in Annie Desroy’s Le Joung in which these this works show a marriage of Haitian and Black American ideologies through the use of Haitian-identified characters and their American counter-parts. Moving the conversations surrounding Haiti from one of revolution to that of a former island superpower weighted down by larger societal reluctance to make its contributions to the Western world a matter of public record.
            Tapping into their inherited “primal unconsciousness” (138) contributors to part 4: “Globalization and Crisis,” features essays that positions Haiti in larger societal conversations of sovereighty or territory by drawing parallels between the lived experiences and social realities of the Haitian populous with those in the United States. Using a documentary film Christopher Garland’s The Rhetoric of Crisis and Foreclosing the Future of Haiti in Ghosts of Cite Soleil explores the use of cinematic rhetoric to reinforce negative images and stereotypes of Haiti. Relying on symbolism to deconstruct prevailing views of Haiti as a country in need of saving and challenging its erasure from Western historical narratives, Myriam J. A. Chancy’s A Marshall Plan for Haiti at Peace: To Continue or End the Legacy of the Revolution ponders solutions for the rebuilding of Haiti and the recognition of its role in the development of other nations and countries in the New World. Relying on the use of counter-narratives, this section re-establishes Haiti’s narrative as an island nation founded by slaves while rejecting the status of exotic erotic in need of saving. This is a point of contention that J. Michael Dash expands upon in the afterword. Providing a fitting summation to the entire edited volume, Dash’s Neither France nor Senegal: Bovarysme and Haiti’s Hemispheric Identity ushers in the next phase of Haiti’s return to its post-revolutionary glory. This essay calls for a rebirth of Negritude and Pan-African philosophies in the Haitian consciousness and for political activism among its citizenry in an effort to reclaim not only its cultural heritage, but also aid it in the creation of a self-defined cultural identity.
            A collection of interrelated essays, Haiti and the Americas places the island nation on a continuum within larger societal conversations of freedom. Using a variety of conceptual frameworks and methodological lenses, each essay provides a fresh, unbiased rearticulation of many taken-for-granted assumptions regarding Haiti and its contributions to discourses of freedom in the Western hemisphere. One strength of the book is that each of the selected essays work in concert with one another while enabling each author to use their text to articulate their individual points of view. However, a weakness of the book was its limited discussion of the contribution of women to these discourses beyond the use of Annie Desroy’s text by Nadeve Menard. Overall, Haiti and the Americas is a balanced, research based collection of essays articulating the narratives of Haiti from its historical past to its present and future. Nonetheless, scholars interested in Diasporic Literature, Cultural Studies, Education, Haitian History, and Black Atlantic Studies may find Haiti and the Americas a useful pre-primer. 
Tammie Jenkins, Ph.D.
Independent Scholar