Sunday, December 28, 2014

New contributors needed for the new year, 2015!

"Haiti: Then and Now" (HTN) is looking for new contributors for the new year, 2015.
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Friday, December 26, 2014

"Imagining and Reimagining Haiti through Literature and Reading in 2014" by Celucien L. Joseph

"Imagining and Reimagining Haiti through Literature and Reading in 2014" by Celucien L. Joseph 

As a scholar of Haitian studies, I try to stay abreast of the growing and interesting literary production and expression about Haiti and its place in world history in Western scholarship, both in the Anglophone and Francophone world. Frankly, it is impossible to keep track of the various ways writers and artists have imagined and reimagined Haiti through literature, books, and the arts. (But, I do try to keep an eye on the books that are published primarily in the English and French languages. )  As a writer, I too have imagined and continue to imagine Haitian history, culture, and literature through the technology of books and the craft of writing. In this brief post, my goal is to share with you some of the best books that have been published on Haiti in 2014. Each title is followed by a brief description.  I close the post by highlighting  some of the most exciting anticipating works in 2015 about Haiti.These titles are both in English  and French. These texts represent different literary genres; they imagine Haiti from different perspectives, worldviews, and disciplines--including religion, history, literature, the arts, economics, political philosophy, etc. 2014 was a great year of literary production about Haiti.

Bonne lecture and Happy New Year, 2015!

A. Best Books Published on Haiti in 2014

1. The Memoir of General Toussaint Louverture (Oxford University Press, 2014) Translated and Edited by Philippe R. Girard

“Here is an annotated, scholarly, multilingual edition of the only lengthy text personally written by Haitian revolutionary Toussaint Louverture: the memoirs he wrote shortly before his death in the French prison of Fort de Joux. The translation is based on an original copy in Louverture’s hand never before published.
Historian Philippe Girard begins with an introductory essay that retraces Louverture’s career as a slave, rebel, and governor. Girard provides a detailed narrative of the last year of Louverture’s life, and analyzes the significance of the memoirs and letters from a historical and linguistic perspective. The book includes a full transcript, in the original French, of Louverture’s handwritten memoirs. The English translation appears side by side with the original. The memoirs contain idiosyncrasies and stylistic variations of interest to linguists.
Scholarly interest in the Haitian Revolution and the life of Toussaint Louverture has increased over the past decade. Louverture is arguably the most notable man of African descent in history, and the Haitian Revolution was the most radical of the three great revolutions of its time. Haiti’s proud revolutionary past and its more recent upheavals indicate that interest in Haiti’s history goes far beyond academia; many regard Louverture as a personal hero. Despite this interest, there is a lack of accessible primary sources on Toussaint Louverture. An edited translation of Louverture’s memoirs makes his writings accessible to a larger public. Louverture’s memoirs provide a vivid alternative perspective to anonymous plantation records, quantitative analyses of slave trading ventures, or slave narratives mediated by white authors. Louverture kept a stoic façade and rarely expressed his innermost thoughts and fears in writing, but his memoirs are unusually emotional. Louverture questioned whether he was targeted due to the color of his skin, bringing racism an issue that Louverture rarely addressed head on with his white interlocutors, to the fore.”

2. Haiti: From Revolutionary Slaves to Powerless Citizens: Essays on the Politics and Economics of Underdevelopment, 1804-2013 ( Routledge, 2014) by Alex Dupuy
“This title focuses on Haiti from an international perspective. Haiti has endured undue influence from successive French and US governments; its fragile ‘democracy’ has been founded on subordination to and dominance of foreign powers. This book examines Haiti’s position within the global economic and political order, and how the more dominant members of the international community have, in varying ways, exploited the country over the last 200 years.”

3. Haiti: Trapped in the Outer Periphery (Lynne Rienner Publishers , 2014) by Robert Fatton Jr. 
6. Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution ( Cambridge University Press, 2014) by Ada Ferrer 
“In this moving microhistory of nineteenth-century Haiti and Jamaica, Matthew J. Smith details the intimate connections that illuminate the conjoined histories of both places after slavery. The frequent movement of people between Haiti and Jamaica in the decades following emancipation in the British Caribbean brought the countries into closer contact and influenced discourse about the postemancipation future of the region. In the stories and genealogies of exiles and politicians, abolitionists and diplomats, laborers and merchants–and mothers, fathers, and children–Smith recognizes the significance of nineteenth-century Haiti to regional development.
On a broader level, Smith argues that the history of the Caribbean is bound up in the shared experiences of those who crossed the straits and borders between the islands just as much as in the actions of colonial powers. Whereas Caribbean historiography has generally treated linguistic areas separately and emphasized relationships with empires, Smith concludes that such approaches have obscured the equally important interactions among peoples of the Caribbean.”
8. Haiti Noir 2: The Classics (Akashic Books, 2014) edited by Edwidge Danticat
“From the introduction by Edwidge Danticat:
“How often are you asked to put together an amazing literary party? In my case, a mind-blowing two times. The lit party of my dreams has been Haiti Noir, and lo and behold, I get asked to do it again…After the first Haiti Noir was published, people kept asking if I wasn’t contributing to a negative image of the country by editing a book filled with so many ‘dark’ stories about Haiti. My answer was, and remains, that showing the brilliance of our writers and their ability to address Haiti’s difficulties through their art can only contribute to a more nuanced and complex presentation of Haitian lives. After all, the writers here are not Haiti virgins, to paraphrase from ‘Heading South,’ Dany Laferrière’s story, included here, of sex tourism gone wrong. They are all old hats, either by blood or their deep love for Haiti…This is not just a party, folks, but also a costume party, a noir party. The author of each story, poem, or novel excerpt has shed his or her skin and has sunk into the deepest and most revealing places of the human heart.”

9.Claire of the Sea Light (Vintage, 2014) by Edwidge Danticat
“Just as her father makes the wrenching decision to send her away for a chance at a better life, Claire Limyè Lanmè—Claire of the Sea Light—suddenly disappears. As the people of the Haitian seaside community of Ville Rose search for her, painful secrets, haunting memories, and startling truths are unearthed. In this stunning novel about intertwined lives, Edwidge Danticat crafts a tightly woven, breathtaking tapestry that explores the mysterious bonds we share—with the natural world and with one another.”
10. The Haitian Revolution in the Literary Imagination: Radical Horizons, Conservative Constraints ( University of Virginia Press, 2014) by Philip Kaisary 
“The Haitian Revolution (1791–1804) reshaped the debates about slavery and freedom throughout the Atlantic world, accelerated the abolitionist movement, precipitated rebellions in neighboring territories, and intensified both repression and antislavery sentiment. The story of the birth of the world’s first independent black republic has since held an iconic fascination for a diverse array of writers, artists, and intellectuals throughout the Atlantic diaspora. Examining twentieth-century responses to the Haitian Revolution, Philip Kaisary offers a profound new reading of the representation of the Revolution by radicals and conservatives alike in primary texts that span English, French, and Spanish languages and that include poetry, drama, history, biography, fiction, and opera.In a complementary focus on canonical works by Aimé Césaire, C. L. R. James, Edouard Glissant, and Alejo Carpentier in addition to the work of René Depestre, Langston Hughes, and Madison Smartt Bell, Kaisary argues that the Haitian Revolution generated an enduring cultural and ideological inheritance. He addresses critical understandings and fictional reinventions of the Revolution and thinks through how, and to what effect, authors of major diasporic texts have metamorphosed and appropriated this spectacular corner of black revolutionary history.”

11.The Colonial System Unveiled (Liverpool University Press, 2014) by Baron de Vastey (Author), Chris Bongie (Translator)
“Long neglected in mainstream history books, the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) is now being claimed across a range of academic disciplines as an event of world-historical importance. The former slaves’ victory over their French masters and the creation of the independent nation of Haiti in 1804 is being newly heralded not only as a seminal moment in the transnational formation of the ‘black Atlantic’ but as the most far-reaching manifestation of ‘Radical Enlightenment’.
The best known Haitian writer to emerge in the years after the revolution is Baron de Vastey (1781-1820), who authored over ten books and pamphlets between 1814 and his murder in 1820. His first and most incendiary work, Le système colonial dévoilé (1814), provides a moving invocation of the horrors of slavery in pre-revolutionary Saint-Domingue. Its trailblazing critique of colonialism anticipates by over a hundred years the anticolonial politics (and poetics) of Césaire, Fanon, and Sartre.
Translated here for the first time, Vastey’s forceful unveiling of the colonial system will be compulsory reading for scholars across the humanities.”

12. Haïti après le tremblement de terre: La forme, le rôle et le pouvoir de l’écriture (Peter Lang Publishing Inc., 2014) by Emmanuelle Anne Vanborre (Editor)
“En parallèle à la construction historique d’Haïti en tant que pays indépendant, la littérature haïtienne s’est montrée dynamique depuis plus de deux siècles. Les écrivains, poètes, artistes, créent et notent la vivacité culturelle d’Haïti. Le 12 janvier 2010, le séisme fait trembler la terre d’Haïti, fait trembler les corps et les âmes des personnes d’Haïti et d’ailleurs. Immédiatement après la catastrophe, les écrivains continuent à écrire, reprennent l’écriture, commencent à créer de nouvelles œuvres sur le tremblement de terre et ses conséquences. Plusieurs articles, récits, fictions, volumes collectifs sont publiés. La force et la vie de la littérature haïtienne continuent à impliquer les lecteurs, en éveillent de nouveaux. La misère, la douleur, la tristesse et la mort peuplent les lignes, mais la beauté, le courage, la vision et l’espoir sont également présents. Les mots essaient de contenir la complexité de la nouvelle face d’Haïti. Les mots essaient de capturer l’absence. Mais comment le témoignage est-il possible quand l’événement est une catastrophe, quand l’événement a pris la vie de tant de personnes, quand l’événement touche à la destruction et à la mort ? Ce volume s’attache à analyser les écrits qui ont trait au séisme, au rôle et au pouvoir de la littérature, à la nécessité d’écrire qui suit un tel événement traumatique. Le but est d’offrir une réflexion sur ce que peut la littérature, la fiction, ce que peuvent les mots devant le drame qui est survenu à Haïti.”

13.Visualizing Haiti in U.S. Culture, 1910-1950 (Ashgate Pub Co.,  2014) by Lindsay J. Twa (Author)
“From the late 1910s through the 1950s, particularly, the Caribbean nation of Haiti drew the attention and imaginations of many key U.S. artists, yet curiously, while significant studies have been published on Haiti’s history and inter-American exchanges, none analyze visual representations with any depth.The author calls not only on the methodologies of art history, but also on the interdisciplinary eye of visual culture studies, anthropology, literary theory, and tourism studies to examine the fine arts in relation to popular arts, media, social beliefs, and institutional structures. Twa emphasizes close visual readings of photographs, illustrations, paintings, and theatre. Extensive textual and archival research also supports her visual analysis, such as scrutinizing the personal papers of this study’s artists, writers, and intellectuals.Among the literary and artistic luminaries of the twentieth century that Twa includes in her discussion are Richmond Barthe, Eldzier Cortor, Aaron Douglas, Katherine Dunham, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Alexander King, Jacob Lawrence, James Weldon Johnson, Lois Mailou Jones, Eugene O’Neill, and William Edouard Scott. Twa argues that their choice of Haiti as subject matter was a highly charged decision by these American artists to use their artwork to engage racial, social, and political issues.”

14. L’armée indigène : La défaite de Napoléon en Haïti (Presses de l’Université Laval, 2014) by Jean-Pierre Le Glaunec prefaced by Lyonel Trouillot
“Valmy, Austerlitz, Ulm, Waterloo… Autant de batailles dont les noms nous sont familiers. Mais qui, en dehors Haïti, a déjà entendu parler de la bataille de Vertières, point d’aboutissement spectaculaire et sanglant de la guerre d’indépendance haïtienne ? Qui sait que cet affrontement s’est soldé, en 1803, par l’une des pires défaites napoléoniennes ? Que les Noirs s’y réclamaient des idéaux de la Révolution ? Ceux qui connaissent cette histoire sont peu nombreux, car la France vaincue s’est employée à effacer les traces de sa déconfiture. Pourtant, cette bataille aurait dû faire date : son issue, désastreuse pour la puissance coloniale française, allait fissurer de manière irrémédiable les assises de l’esclavage. Dans cet ouvrage, Jean-Pierre Le Glaunec décrit la violence inouïe de cette guerre entre maîtres et anciens esclaves, entre les forces des généraux Leclerc et Rochambeau et l’armée, dite “indigène”, de Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Il interroge le sens de son occultation par l’historiographie française, mais aussi le rapport trouble que l’élite du pouvoir haïtien entretient avec sa mémoire, symbole d’émancipation parfois encombrant pour qui désire maintenir les populations asservies.”

15. Production du Savoir et Construction Sociale: L’ethnologie en Haiti (Editions de l’Universite d’Etat d’Haiti, 2014) by Jhon Picard Byron (ed)
” Ce collectif résulte de l’une des premières rencontres instauratrices du laboratoire LADIREP (langues-discours-représentations), centre de recherche de l’Université d’État d’Haïti (UEH) implanté à la Faculté d’ethnologie (FE). Il ouvre le chantier de l’histoire de l’ethnologie en et sur Haïti en examinant la nature du savoir ethnologique et ses relations avec la construction sociale. Le tournant ethnologique est analysé avec la mise au jour de nouvelles données factuelles, une remise en perspective des généalogies intellectuelles et de l’interprétation de certaines œuvres. Les répercussions du basculement survenu sont ensuite réévaluées à travers l’étude de formes d’appropriation sociale et esthétique, de postérité politique et institutionnelle. Puis, des comparaisons donnent à apprécier des convergences dans la démarche d’auteurs haïtiens et brésiliens de la première moitié du xxe siècle, dans les préoccupations actuelles relatives au positionnement du chercheur face à des revendications mémorielles. Enfin, une synthèse des principales orientations théoriques des études des ” Amériques noires “, qui élargit l’horizon de l’évaluation comparative, est confrontée aux nouvelles voies envisagées.”

16. L’actualite d’Antenor Firmin: Hier, Aujourd’hui et Demain (Editions de l’Universite d’Etat d’Haiti, 2014) by Cary Hector (ed)

17.Panorama Du Folklore Haitien: Presence africaine en Haiti ( Panorama Du Folklore Haitien, 2014) by Emmanuel C. Paul 
“Comme l’indique le titre, il s’agit d’une revue assez large des pratiques culturelles haïtiennes. Ainsi, plusieurs éléments fondamentaux du patrimoine immatériel sont scientifiquement décrits et commentes. Bien que datant de 1963, cette recherche, alors qu’elle couvre un très large éventail de pratique,demeure l’une des plus rigoureuses scientifiquement. Ainsi l’auteur établit-il sans équivoque la source africaine de la culture haïtienne dans ses multiples aspects. C’est ce qui fait de Panorama du folklore haïtien, présence africaine en Haiti, un livre de référence pour tous ceux qui s’intéressent a Haiti d’une manière général et en particulier a la mentalité et a la culture de son peuple.”

17. Histoire du style musical en Haiti (Mémoire d’Encrier, 2014) de Claude Dauphin 
” Histoire du style musical d’Haïti est une référence en musicologie. L’ouvrage offre au lecteur des itinéraires fascinants – textes, images, partitions musicales, photos d’archives -, construits à partir de témoignages ethnographiques et de la vaste expérience musicologique de l’auteur. Point de vue de l’auteur. Ce livre se veut un ouvrage de musicologie. Qu’est-ce à dire ? Non pas que la musique soit une science en soi, mais qu’il existe des règles précises pour l’aborder, pour l’analyser et pour la présenter de manière rationnelle. Ainsi, une histoire de la musique commande une objectivité, s’appuie sur des observations vérifiables, répertorie et analyse les éléments du langage musical, classifie les instruments et, en dernier ressort, définit les genres et les styles. Histoire du style musical d’Haïti a un caractère mixte qui le situe entre l’essai, c’est-à-dire l’ouvrage de réflexion, et l’usuel, l’ouvrage de référence. Selon son intérêt, le lecteur naviguera d’une perspective à l’autre : prendre part à la cogitation, se situer par rapport aux arguments sociohistoriques amenés et discutés par l’auteur ou, à l’inverse, compulser les répertoires qui se veulent plus objectifs, plus descriptifs.”

18. Bain de lune (Sabine Wespiese, 2014) de Yanick Lahens 
 “Après trois jours de tempête, un pêcheur découvre, échouée sur la grève, une jeune fille qui semble avoir réchappé à une grande violence. La voix de la naufragée s’élève, qui en appelle à tous les dieux du vaudou et à ses ancêtres, pour tenter de comprendre comment et pourquoi elle s’est retrouvée là. Cette voix expirante viendra scander l’ample roman familial que déploie Yanick Lahens, convoquant les trois générations qui ont précédé la jeune femme afin d’élucider le double mystère de son agression et de son identité.
Les Lafleur ont toujours vécu à Anse Bleue, un village d’Haïti où la terre et les eaux se confondent. Entre eux et les Mésidor, devenus les seigneurs des lieux, les liens sont anciens, et le ressentiment aussi. Il date du temps où les Mésidor ont fait main basse sur toutes les bonnes terres de la région.
Quand, au marché, Tertulien Mésidor s’arrête comme foudroyé devant l’étal d’Olmène (une Lafleur), l’attirance est réciproque. L’histoire de ces deux-là va s’écrire à rebours des idées reçues sur les femmes soumises et les hommes prédateurs.
Mais, dans cette île également balayée par les ouragans politiques, des rumeurs de terreur et de mort ne tardent pas à s’élever. Un voile sombre s’abat pour longtemps sur Anse Bleue.
Pour dire le monde nouveau, celui des fratries déchirées, des déprédations, de l’opportunisme politique, Yanick Lahens s’en remet au choeur immémorial des paysans : eux ne sont pas dupes, qui se fient aux seules puissances souterraines.
Leurs mots puissants, magiques, donnent à ce roman magistral une violente beauté.”
 19. How Human Rights Can Build Haiti: Activists, Lawyers, and the Grassroots Campaign (Vanderbilt University Press, 2014) by Fran Quigley 
“A cataclysmic earthquake, revolution, corruption, and neglect have all conspired to strangle the growth of a legitimate legal system in Haiti. But as How Human Rights Can Build Haiti demonstrates, the story of lawyers-activists on the ground should give us all hope. They organize demonstrations at the street level, argue court cases at the international level, and conduct social media and lobbying campaigns across the globe. They are making historic claims and achieving real success as they tackle Haiti’s cholera epidemic, post-earthquake housing and rape crises, and the Jean-Claude Duvalier prosecution, among other human rights emergencies in Haiti.
The only way to transform Haiti’s dismal human rights legacy is through a bottom-up social movement, supported by local and international challenges to the status quo. That recipe for reform mirrors the strategy followed by Mario Joseph, Brian Concannon, and their clients and colleagues profiled in this book. Together, Joseph, Concannon, and their allies represent Haiti’s best hope to escape the cycle of disaster, corruption, and violence that has characterized the country’s two-hundred-year history. At the same time, their efforts are creating a template for a new and more effective human rights-focused strategy to turn around failed states and end global poverty.”
20. Drifting (Akashic Books, 2014 by Katia D. Ulysse
“Katia D. Ulysse’s debut provides the rare opportunity to peer into the private lives of four secretive Haitian families. The interwoven narrative spans four decades–from 1970 through 2010–and drifts among various provinces in Haiti, the United States, churches, vodun temples, schools, strip clubs, and the grave. Ulysse introduces us to a childless Haitian American couple risking it all for a baby to call their own; a Florida-based predatory schoolteacher threatening students with deportation if they expose him; and the unforgettable Monsieur Boursicault, whose chain of funeral parlors makes him the wealthiest man in Haiti. This daring work of fiction is a departure from the standard narrative of political unrest on the island. Ulysse’s characters are everyday people whose hopes for distant success are constantly challenged–but never totally swayed–by the hard realities accompanying the immigrant’s journey.”
B. Some Anticipating Works in 2015

1. For Whom the Dogs Spy: Haiti: From the Duvalier Dictatorships to the Earthquake, Four Presidents, and Beyond ( Arcade Publishing , 2015 ) by Raymond A. Joseph 
“When the 2010 earthquake struck Haiti, Raymond Joseph, the former Haitian ambassador to the United States, found himself rushing back to his beloved country. The earthquake ignited a passion in Joseph, inspiring him to run for president against great competition, including two well-known Haitian pop stars, his nephew Wyclef Jean and Michel Martelly. But he couldn’t compete in a democratic system corrupt to the core.
Joseph’s insider’s account—having served four presidents—explores the country’s unfolding democracy. He unearths the hidden stories of Haiti’s cruel dictators, focusing on the tyranny of François “Papa Doc” Duvalier, who used the legend of voodoo to bewitch the country into fearing him.
Joseph’s terrifying experiences while infiltrating the father-son regime are chilling. Threatened by Duvalier’s budding gestapo-like police, Joseph sought sanctuary in America. His grueling experience in Haitian politics gave him a unique outlook on international affairs, and he excelled in his ambassadorial career in the United States.
Deep personal knowledge of politics allows Joseph to speak candidly about Haitian history. Readers will be surprised at how important the country of Haiti has been in global (and especially American) history. In this decades-spanning work, he challenges common misconceptions about Haiti. The country is rarely referenced without a mention of it being the “poorest in the Western Hemisphere,” a reductive label unfit for summarizing its rich history. There is no discussion around Haitian history beyond the war of independence. In For Whom the Dogs Spy, Raymond Joseph provides a compelling, modern-day look at Haiti like no other.
With this book, Ambassador Raymond Joseph warns readers about Haiti’s current political leaders’ attempts to impose a new dictatorship. His hope is that Haiti can right itself despite the destruction it has suffered at the hands of man and nature.”

2.Contrary Destinies: A Century of America’s Occupation, Deoccupation, and Reoccupation of Haiti (University Press of Florida, August 25, 2015) by Leon D. Pamphile 

3. Why Haiti Needs New Narratives: A Post-Quake Chronicle (Wesleyan, May 25, 2015) by Gina Athena Ulysse (Author), Robin D.G. Kelley (Contributor)
“Mainstream news coverage of the catastrophic earthquake of January 12, 2010, reproduced longstanding narratives of Haiti and stereotypes of Haitians. Cognizant that this Haiti, as it exists in the public sphere, is a rhetorically and graphically incarcerated one, the feminist anthropologist and performance artist Gina Athena Ulysse embarked on a writing spree that lasted over two years. As an ethnographer and a member of the diaspora, Ulysse delivers critical cultural analysis of geopolitics and daily life in a series of dispatches, op-eds and articles on post-quake Haiti. Her complex yet singular aim is to make sense of how the nation and its subjects continue to negotiate sovereignty and being in a world where, according to a Haitian saying, tout moun se moun, men tout moun pa menm (All people are human, but all humans are not the same). This collection contains thirty pieces, most of which were previously published in and on Haitian Times, Huffington Post, Ms Magazine, Ms Blog, NACLA, and other print and online venues. The book is trilingual (English, Kreyòl, and French) and includes a foreword by award-winning author and historian Robin D.G. Kelley.”

4. Tropics of Haiti: Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1789-1865  (Liverpool University Press, May 2015) by MArlene L. Daut
“The Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) was an event of monumental world-historical significance, and here, in the first systematic literary history of those events, Haiti’s war of independence is examined through the eyes of its actual and imagined participants, observers, survivors, and cultural descendants. The ‘transatlantic print culture of the Haitian Revolution’ that this literary history shows was created by novelists, poets, dramatists, memoirists, biographers, historians, journalists, and eye-witness observers, revealing enlightenment racial ‘science’ as the primary vehicle through which the Haitian Revolution was interpreted, historicized, memorialized, and fictionalized by nineteenth-century Haitians, Europeans, and U.S. Americans alike.
Through its author’s contention that the Haitian revolutionary wars were incessantly racialized by four constantly recurring racial tropes—the ‘monstrous hybrid’, the ‘tropical temptress’, the ‘tragic mulatto/a’, and the ‘mulatto legend of history’, Tropics of Haiti shows the ways in which the nineteenth-century tendency to understand Haiti’s revolution in primarily racial terms has affected present day demonizations of Haiti and Haitians. In the end, this new archive of Haitian revolutionary writing, much of which has until now remained unknown to the contemporary reading public, invites us to examine how nineteenth-century attempts to paint Haitian independence as the result of a racial revolution coincides with present-day desires to render insignificant and ‘unthinkable’ the second independent republic of the New World.”

5. Writing on the Fault Line: Haitian Literature and the Earthquake of 2010 (Liverpool University Press, June 1, 2015) by Martin Munro

“What are the effects of a catastrophic earthquake on a society, its culture and politics? Which of these effects are temporary, and which endure? Are the various effects immediately discernible, or do they manifest themselves over time? What roles do artists, and writers in particular have in witnessing, bearing testimony to, and gauging the effects of natural disasters? What is the worth of literature in a time of disaster? These are the fundamental questions addressed in this book, which examines the case of the Haitian earthquake of 12 January 2010, a uniquely destructive event in the recent history of cataclysmic disasters, in Haiti and the broader world. The book argues that Haitian literature since 2010 has played a primary role in recording, bearing testimony to, and engaging with the social and psychological effects of the disaster. It further shows that daring literary invention – what Edwidge Danticat calls “dangerous creation” – constitutes one of the most striking and important means of communicating the effects of such a disaster, and that close engagement with the creative imagination is one of the most privileged ways for the outsider in particular to begin to comprehend the experience of living in and through a time of catastrophe.”

6.  Thinking in Public: Faith, Secular Humanism, and Development in Jacques Roumain (Wipf and Stock, 2015) by Celucien Joseph

*Description is forthcoming.

7. Vodou in Haitian Memory: The Idea and Representation of Vodou in Haitian Imagination (Collection 1) (Lexington Books, 2015)  edited by Celucien L. Joseph and Nixon Cleophat

*Description is forthcoming.

8. Vodou in the Haitian Experience: A Black Atlantic Perspective (Collection 2)  (Lexington Books, 2015) edited by Celucien L. Joseph, Nixon S. Cleophat, Asselin Charles, and Schallum E. Pierre

Thursday, December 25, 2014

"Haiti: Then and Now" Welcomes Marc-Arthur Pierre-Louis!

"Haiti: Then and Now" Welcomes Marc-Arthur Pierre-Louis!

Mr. Pierre-Louis is a senior solutions architect experienced in developing applications and systems software on various hardware platforms and operating systems. He has over twenty years of experience in software architecture, design, development and testing of Network, operating systems, traditional applications and Client/Server applications, and enterprise web site design and development and Portal development.

Pierre-Louis is a writer, political commentator, who has written extensively on Haitian issues on education, language, technology, social and political issues. He has published on social media online, Haitian forums, newspaper online such as Radio Television Caraibes website, Tout-Haiti website, Paroles en Archipel and several online forums. Mr. Pierre-Louis is a fluent speaker of the English, French an Creole. His recent book written French includes Parlers à Paradoxes (Moderable, 2014).

Pierre-Louis has an undergraduate degree in Mathematics and computer science and graduate degree in Apologetics. He is currently an engineer working for the IBM  corporation. Pierre-Louis has traveled extensively for IBM in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America consulting with customer and speaking at technological conferences and events.

Pierre-Louis is the adjunct professor at the University Lumiere in Les Cayes; He has spoken at conferences on apologetics as well as conferences on Haitian issues.

Marc-Arthur Pierre-Louis is a composer who has won many awards for his songwriting works. He has produced several musical albums and singles, which are available on his website.

E-mail address:

Saturday, December 6, 2014

"L’aménagement linguistique en Haïti : enjeux, défis et propositions" by Asselin Charles

"L’aménagement linguistique en Haïti : enjeux, défis et propositions" 
by Asselin Charles
"1 Les Haïtiens ont dû attendre près de deux siècles après l’indépendance de leur pays, soit jusqu’en 1987, pour que le créole, langue unificatrice de tous les Haïtiens, soit constitutionnellement reconnu comme langue officielle, au même titre que le français. La seule officialisation du créole n’aura cependant pas mis fin à la marginalisation des unilingues créolophones, représentant 80 % de la population, qui n’ont toujours pas un plein accès aux services de l’État ni à un système efficace d’éducation. Au nombre des raisons sociohistoriques qui expliquent cet état de choses, il faut surtout retenir l’absence d’efforts réels de la part de l’État pour satisfaire les droits linguistiques de la majorité. D’où la nécessité urgente de concevoir et d’appliquer une politique d’aménagement linguistique en vue de gérer la coexistence du français et du créole dans l’espace haïtien.

2 Telles sont les préoccupations de cet ouvrage collectif, dirigé par Robert Berrouët-Oriol. Ce livre réunit les contributions de quatre linguistes. Il se propose d’explorer le contexte historique, social et politique de la coexistence du créole et du français en Haïti, de faire le tour des diverses tentatives lancées en vue de les aménager et d’offrir, sur des bases pragmatiques plutôt qu’idéologiques, des pistes valables pour un tel aménagement. Comme préalable à cette entreprise, les auteurs considèrent qu’il convient de mettre fin à des débats chimériques comme ceux auxquels on s’attarde sur la définition du créole, sur ses différentes appellations, le créole ou l’haïtien, ou encore sur la diglossie. D’autres notions, plus pertinentes, selon eux, notamment celles de droit à la langue comme droit humain universel, de convergence linguistique dans une franco-créolophonie haïtienne et d’aménagement linguistique dans un cadre légal, pourraient mieux aider à trouver des solutions aux problèmes des langues en Haïti.

3 Nous trouvons ces positions dans le chapitre intitulé « Propositions pour l’élaboration de la première loi sur l’aménagement linguistique en Haïti ». Ce texte s’accompagne de sa traduction en langue créole sous la plume du linguiste Hugues Saint-Fort. Les titres des diverses propositions de cette loi indiquent clairement ses objectifs : obtenir l’égalité de statut entre le créole et le français, appliquer les droits linguistiques reconnus à tous les Haïtiens, fixer les obligations de l’État en matière d’aménagement et de didactique des deux langues haïtiennes, réglementer l’exercice de la politique linguistique. Le livre de Berrouët-Oriol effectue ainsi le passage de la théorie à la pratique en posant les bases concrètes d’une législation qui assurera la jouissance de la pleine citoyenneté à tous les Haïtiens. 

4 Certains aspects de la problématique des langues ont cependant été oubliés. Les auteurs ne tiennent pas suffisamment compte du contexte géopolitique et géoculturel que constitue le voisinage des pays anglophones et hispanophones de la Caraïbe. On ignore également d’autres forces qui interviennent depuis quelque temps dans le paysage linguistique haïtien et qui devraient amener à dépasser la simple opposition binaire du créole et du français. Le paradigme du bilinguisme français-créole pourrait bien être insuffisant au regard des facteurs liés à la mondialisation et à la migration. Les Haïtiens ont émigré un peu partout dans le monde, en particulier aux États-Unis. L’usage d’autres langues a favorisé l’émergence d’autres types de bilinguisme, notamment celui de l’anglais et du créole.

5 Il ne suffit plus alors d’opposer le créole au français. Le seul fait qui demeure immuable, c’est que le créole, langue maternelle et nationale, est incontournable et que c’est avec lui que devront composer toutes les autres langues. 

6 L’aménagement linguistique en Haïti est un livre qui arrive à point nommé. Au lendemain du tremblement de terre de janvier 2010, le pays cherche un nouveau départ dans tous les domaines de la vie nationale. Cet ouvrage est une précieuse contribution à cette entreprise de reconstruction nationale, dans la mesure où il propose une solution pragmatique à la question linguistique en Haïti, qui est au fond une question de citoyenneté.

Pour citer

Asselin Charles, L’aménagement linguistique en Haïti : enjeux, défis et propositions
Le français à l'université , 17-01 | 2012 

source:  Le français à luniversité

"Two excerpts of Boisrond -Tonnerre’s Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire d’Ayti" (1804) translated by Asselin Charles

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

"Beyond the Slave Narrative: Politics, Sex, and Manuscripts in the Haitian Revolution" reviewed by Tammie Jenkins

Jenson, Deborah. Beyond the Slave Narrative: Politics, Sex, and Manuscripts in the Haitian Revolution. Liverpool, England: Liverpool University Press. 2011. ISBN: 9781846317606. 322 pp.
  Reviewed by Tammie Jenkins

In Beyond the Slave Narrative: Politics, Sex, and Manuscripts in the Haitian Revolution, Jenson investigates “the emergence of a mediated Haitian” (303) literary tradition, which the she maintains is rooted in discourses resulting from the Haitian Revolution (1791-1803). Exploring notions of freedom versus independence, the author explores works by Haiti’s early leaders such as Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and Henry Christophe, as literary texts, as opposed to political writings. Opening with works by Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and Henry Christophe, Beyond the Slave Narrative, present the ways in which issues of authenticity arise, when considering texts written by early Haitian leaders, due to the fact that they, on occasion, used secretaries or transcribers, to record their written narratives. Consequently, Jenson suggests that these texts have been marginalized by Western literary tradition, in favor of the traditional slave narrative, as authentic representations of black lived experiences and social realities, during the colonial period, in the New World.
Featuring eight chapters, a separate introduction, an epilogue, index as well as notes and a bibliography at the end of each chapter, Beyond the Slave Narrative, is sequentially subdivided into two parts: Part 1: “Authorizing the Political Sphere” and Part 2, “Authorizing the Libertine Sphere.” In the introduction titled, “Race and Voice in the Archives: Mediated Testimony and Interracial Commerce in Saint-Domingue,” Jenson outlines the purpose of Beyond the Slave Narrative, as a prelude to “a literary tradition that sprang directly from the Haitian Revolution,” (1). This chapter situates Jenson’s vision for the entire book by providing the scope and sequence, thesis, conceptual framework, as well as a brief summary of each of the chapters contained in the text, in addition, to in-depth descriptions of each archival record used to support her overall contention. Beyond the Slave Narrative, concludes with an epilogue in which Jenson reiterates her argument for the exploration of the Haitian literary tradition as more than political texts.
In Part 1: “Authorizing the Political Sphere,” Jenson examines works by Louverture, Dessalines, and Christophe, grounded in rhetoric of empowerment, underpinned by sentimentality and commonalities across their lived experiences, which the author describes as “cultural patrimony” (10). Jenson credits Louverture as the progenitor of the Haitian literary traditions, through his use of spin to create counter-narratives supporting the development of a Haitian cultural identity. In the context of Haitian literary works, Jenson includes letters, proclamations, poems, legal documents, treaties, and oral history, which she examines as geopolitical conciliatory narratives used to preserve the history of the writer or storyteller, in the language of the text. From the author’s perspective, Haitian literature has been interwoven with other black literary traditions; however, in 1804, the Haitian literary tradition began to gain momentum, which separated it from traditional Western slave narratives by marking its discourses as postcolonial texts articulating notions of identity and “state-building in a racialized world” (1). Presenting Haitian literary works as “mediated texts” (94), Jenson noted the ways in which Louverture, Dessalines, and Christophe used religion, in their writings and personal correspondences, which she noted were instrumental in moving the Haitian literary tradition from political narratives towards discourses of social and cultural independence, in the public sphere.
Part 2: “Authorizing the Libertine Sphere,” the author discusses the challenges of locating diasporic literature such as poetry, produced by Haitians. The author contends that Haitian literary works tend to focus on the discursive use of language and accepted meanings, as sites of resistance, interacting with larger societal conversations of “other.” In this section, Jenson studies texts produced before, during, and immediately following the Haitian Revolution, as part of a trajectory, embedded in discourses of unbecoming as a source of identity construction, in larger societal conversations of freedom versus independence. Arguing the that there is a distinct difference between Western slave narratives and Haitian literature, Jenson challenges accepted notions regarding the meaning of slavery to former slaves and redefines these discourses, as they relate to decolonization.
Beyond the Slave Narrative, explores the writings of former Haitian military leaders and poets as contributors to the development of the Haitian literary tradition which “forged the precarious sovereignty of the black nation” (3). The strengths of Beyond the Slave Narrative, includes an extensive overview and discussion of the contributions of each work selected for this book, Jenson provides archival documents with original texts, detailed translations of each work in English, in-depth analysis, as well as a concise overview of the content of each chapter. In Beyond the Slave Narrative, Jenson includes a variety of documents to illustrate the ways in which Haitians their literary texts to establish a  tradition situated by their lived experiences to present discourses of freedom versus independence; hence, transgressing the intersections of race, gender, and class. In Beyond the Slave Narrative, Jenson provides accounts of the ways in which the role of women and the female voice was introduced into the Haitian literary tradition; however, the contributions of women writers, secretaries, transcribers, and the like are absent from her narratives. Nonetheless, scholars interested in Diasporic Literature, Haitian Literary History, Literary Criticism, English, Rhetorical Studies, Cultural Studies, as well as Black Atlantic and Diasporic Studies may find Beyond the Slave Narrative a useful primer.

Tammie Jenkins, Ph. D.
Independent Scholar