Haitian Studies Association

Award for Excellence

The Award for Excellence is presented to a person or an organization in recognition of many years of stellar contribution to the scholarship, literature, arts, or culture of Haiti.

♦ 2023 – Marie-José Nzengou-Tayo

Marie-José Nzengou-Tayo is an independent scholar, and formerly Senior Lecturer in French at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus and a former head of the Department of Modern Languages & Literatures (2005-2011), as well as a translator and interpreter. Over the past decade, her foundational essay, “Fanm se Poto Mitan: Haitian Women, the Pillar of Society” (1998) has become the subject of extensive intellectual theorization, by scholars such as Régine Michelle Jean-Charles and Gina Athena Ulysse. Her work is respected for its close reading of literary texts paired with her deep knowledge of Haitian literature. She is co-editor of the book reviews section of the Journal of Haitian Studies. Most recently, she has published an essay on poetry for an anthology of Haitian literature. Her area of specialization is the literature and culture of the French-speaking Caribbean: Haiti, Martinique, and Guadeloupe.

She has published more than sixty articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries in English, French, Kreyòl, and Spanish in the fields of: linguistics; translation studies; poetry studies; literary studies; women’s studies; Vodou studies; migration studies; and urban studies. She has written articles on authors and filmmakers including: Jacques Stéphen Alexis; Marie Vieux-Chauvet; Patrick Chamoiseau; Maryse Condé; Edwidge Danticat; Carlos Esteban Deive; Édouard Glissant; Bob Lemoine; Kettly Mars; Jacques Roumain; Madison Smartt Bell; and Ana Lydia Vega.

She is a past president of the Haitian Studies Association (2005-2006). In 2004, she was awarded the distinction of Palmes académiques, at the rank of Chevalier. She has also been honored by the Caribbean Studies Association in Recognition of Service to the Association, as well as by the Rotary Club of Kingston, and received UWI’s Long Service Award..

She received her PhD in Contemporary French Literature and Comparative Literature (Doctorat de 3ème cycle de Lettres Modernes, mention très bien) at University Lille III – Charles de Gaulle. France. Villeneuve d’Ascq, France. She also received her D.E.A. [Diploma of Higher Studies] Culture of the Caribbean, North America and Latin America and French Foreign Language Teaching at Université des Antilles et de la Guyane, Schoelcher Campus, Martinique.

♦ 2022 – Dr. Régine Michelle Jean-Charles

Dr. Régine Michelle Jean-Charles is a Black feminist literary scholar and cultural critic who works at the intersection of race, gender, and justice. She is the Director of Africana Studies, Dean’s Professor of Culture and Social Justice, and Professor of Africana Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts.

Jean-Charles has been a member of the Haitian Studies Association since 2005 and her contributions to the field of Haitian Studies are numerous. For nearly two decades (2001-2019) Jean-Charles served in leadership roles with A Long Walk Home, Inc, a national arts organization based in Chicago that empowers young people to end violence against girls and women. As a teacher, Jean-Charles has taught courses at Boston College and Northeastern University on Black feminism and politics, Haitian literature, and Black culture in the Francophone African diaspora while also reflecting on her pedagogy in articles and book chapters, such as “Getting Around the Poto Mitan: Reconstructing Haitian Womanhood in the Classroom” and “The Architecture of a Black Feminist Classroom: Pedagogical Praxis in ‘Where #BlacklivesMatter Meets #metoo.”

Jean-Charles’s commitment to justice for Haitians and people in the African diaspora also extends to her scholarship in the academic and public spheres. Her books, Conflict Bodies: The Politics of Rape Representation in the Francophone Imaginary (Ohio State University Press, 2014), Martin Luther King & The Trumpet of Conscience Today (Orbis Press, 2021), Looking for Other Worlds: Black Feminism and Haitian Fiction (University of Virginia Press, 2022) explore important ethical questions through the lens of Black feminisms, Haitian Studies, and literary studies. Her articles and book chapters in various forums address a variety of subjects such as the representation of Black girlhood in literature, Haitian/Dominican border politics, the politics and representation of gender-based violence and rape in literature, and Haitian feminist genealogies. To this body of scholarship, Jean-Charles has also emerged as a powerful advocate for the Haitian diaspora in the media. Her work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Ms. Magazine, WGBH, America Magazine, and Cognoscenti where she has weighed in on topics including #metoo, higher education, and issues affecting the Haitian diaspora.

In the last two years, Jean-Charles’s public writing has been instrumental challenging harmful portrayals of Haitians in the media during the latter years of the Trump presidency, the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court, and the social and political unrest in Haiti following the assassination of Jovenel Moïse.  Jean-Charles’s work is centered on advocacy and praxis; she demonstrates a commitment to intersectional feminism and social justice for Haiti, Haitian people and groups across the African Disapora.

♦ 2021 – Mark Schuller

Mark Schuller is Professor of Anthropology and Nonprofit and NGO Studies at Northern Illinois University and affiliate at the Faculté d’Ethnologie, l’Université d’État d’Haïti. Supported by the National Science Foundation Senior and CAREER Grant, Bellagio Center, and others, Schuller’s research on NGOs, globalization, disasters, and gender in Haiti has been published in fifty book chapters and peer-reviewed articles as well as public media. He authored or coedited eight books including Humanity’s Last Stand: Confronting Global Catastrophe. He is co-director / co-producer of documentary Poto Mitan: Haitian Women, Pillars of the Global Economy (2009). Schuller is co-editor of Berghahn Books’ Catastrophes in Context: a Series in Engaged Social Science on Disasters and University of Alabama Press’ NGOgraphies: a Series of Ethnographic Reflections of NGOs. Recipient of the Margaret Mead Award and the Anthropology in Media Award, he is active in several solidarity efforts.

♦ 2019 – Michael Dash (Posthumously awarded)


♦ 2018 – Claude Moise ♦

Claude Moïse est historien et analyste politique. Éditeur d’un dictionnaire historique de la Révolution haïtienne (CIDIHCA, 2003), on lui doit plusieurs publications d’une importance capitale pour comprendre l’histoire politique d’Haïti, notamment Constitutions et Luttes de pouvoir en Haïti en deux volumes (CIDIHCA, 1988, 1990) réédité en trois volumes aux Éditions de l’Université d’État d’Haïti (2009-2011) ; Repenser Haïti ( CIDIHCA, 1992), avec Émile Ollivier; Le Projet National de Toussaint Louverture et la Constitution de 1801 (CIDIHCA, 2001); La croix et la bannière – La difficile normalisation démocratique en Haïti (CIDIHCA 2002) ; Un pas en avant, deux pas de côté Chronique des années 2004-2008, deux volumes. Port-au Prince, les Éditions de l’UEH, 2010-2013.

Ancien rédacteur en chef de la Revue haïtienne à Montréal, Collectif Paroles (1979-1986), il fut éditorialiste en chef du quotidien Le Matin (2004-2008), coordonnateur du groupe de travail sur la Constitution (2009), représentant d’Haïti au Conseil Exécutif de l’Unesco (2009-2011). Il est membre du Conseil scientifique de la Chaire Louis-Joseph-Janvier sur le constitutionnalisme en Haïti, à l’Université Quisqueya.

Claude Moise est un intellectuel engagé qui n’a pas peur de rentrer dans l’histoire immédiate avec ses participations sur la question constitutionnelle qui ne cesse d’occuper les esprits dans notre Haïti contemporaine. Dans cette perspective il est co-auteur avec Cary Hector du Rapport au président de la République sur la question constitutionnelle de (Juillet 2007.)

En somme, les études de Claude Moise sur l’histoire politique et particulièrement sur l’histoire constitutionnelle d’Haïti sont sans pareilles. Son oeuvre est une contribution essentielle pour comprendre non seulement l’autoritarisme mais également les incessants efforts de démocratisation du pays. Claude Moise est simplement incontournable pour quiconque veut déchiffrer les complexités d’Haïti.

♦ 2017 – Evens Emmanuel ♦

Dr. Evens Emmanuel is recognized by the Haitian Studies Association for his exceptional contributions to the academic field of water engineering and to higher education in Haiti. Dr. Emmanuel began his academic life as a civil engineer at the Institut Supérieur Technique d’Haïti, followed by a second undergraduate degree in management from Université Quisqueya in Haiti, a master’s degree in sanitation engineering from Universidad San Carlos of Guatemala, a doctorate in waste management science from L’Institut National des Sciences Appliquées (INSA) de Lyon, in France. He also received recognition from the same INSA as a research director in environmental science.

Degrees are personal achievements by an individual. But Evens Emmanuel is not a person who worked on his academic achievements strictly for personal growth. While many people who live and work in higher education in Haiti follow the flow and teach as many courses as possible in as many institutions as possible to improve their earnings, Dr. Emmanuel set out to improve the institution where he worked, his country, and his students. In Haiti, research funding is practically impossible to obtain. Yet he created a research laboratory at Université Quisqueya, Laboratoire sur la Qualité de l’Eau et de l’Environnement in 1998. His laboratory was not only preparing students for research; it also became a valuable resource relied on by the government of Haiti and international organizations in the creation, evaluation, and analysis of drinking water supply and used-water sanitation processes. He also accepted a leadership role as Dean of Engineering and Science at Université Quisqueya.

In 2003, he created a master’s program in ecology, environment, and water quality at Université Quisqueya with links to international universities. This work focused on research, and several of his students continued to doctoral programs outside Haiti. Haiti did not offer doctorates (except in medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy). The field of higher education in Haiti suffers from a lack of doctoral-level professors. In 2011, he created a doctoral program in environment and society at Université Quisqueya. His determination to improve the quality and availability of researchers and teachers in Haiti led him to work beyond his own institution. He is now director of the Collège Doctoral d’Haïti, which is a partnership between Université Quisqueya, Université d’Etat d’Haïti, and Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie, to encourage and support doctoral research and to award doctoral diplomas to higher-education instructors. It is an initiative with the goal of improving the quality of teaching and research in Haiti.

Dr. Emmanuel is an extraordinary researcher. His name appears in no less than 60 publications in English and French. He is one of a few scientists working within institutions of higher education in Haiti whose work appears in peer-reviewed international journals. He never stops pushing the envelope and brings with him a whole generation of young scientists in one of the most essential fields of water and environment.

The Haitian Studies Association recognizes Dr. Evens Emmanuel for his excellence in research and teaching. He is a learner, a teacher, a mentor, and an exceptional citizen of Haiti.

♦ 2016 – Jean Casimir

Dr. Jean Casimir, who received his doctorate at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in social change and development, has written numerous books, book chapters, and articles on Haitian diplomatic history and matters of national development, including his books entitled Ayiti Toma, Haïti Chérie and The Caribbean: One and Divisble. He has been a professor and served as a visiting researcher in a number of universities in several countries, including Stanford University in California, and other universities in Jamaica, Mexico, the Congo, and Brazil. He was Visiting Mellon Fellow at Duke University, North Carolina in 2010. He is currently Professor in the Faculté des Sciences Humaines at the Université d’État d’Haïti.

Dr. Casimir has also held advisory posts in the United Nations and from 1991 to 1996 was Haiti’s Ambassador to the United States. His disciplinary expertise and engagement is wide ranging, incorporating research in Haitian history and culture together with related studies in land tenure, agricultural practice, water use, reforestation and rural/urban relationships.

Docteur en Sociologie du Développement et du Changement Social, Jean Casimir est un diplômé de l’Université Autonome de Mexico (UNAM). Chercheur prolifique, il a publié un grand nombre de livres, chapitres de livres et d’articles scientifiques sur l’histoire sociale, politique et diplomatique d’Haïti. Il est l’un des chercheurs les plus critiques des thèses portant sur le développement et le  changement social en Haïti et dans la Caraïbe.

Dr. Casimir a occupé des postes universitaires et de recherche dans plusieurs universités et dans divers pays des Amériques comme le Mexique, la Jamaïque, les Etats-Unis et Trinidad. En 2010, il devient Boursier de la Fondation Mellon et se retrouve comme Professeur invité à Duke University en Caroline du Nord. Dr. Casimir est maintenant Professeur titulaire au département des Sciences Humaines de l’Université d’Etat d’Haïti.

Sa carrière ne se réduit pas au domaine de la recherche et de l’enseignement supérieur. Dr. Casimir a été aussi Conseiller aux Nations Unies. De 1991 à 1996, il fut ambassadeur d’Haïti aux Etats Unis. L’expertise et l’engagement du Dr. Casimir sont étendus et se concentrent sur les recherches sur l’histoire, la culture, les pratiques de développement agricole, la question foncière, la reforestation, la langue créole et en particulier les études portant sur les rapports entre l’urbain et le rural en Haïti, comme le montre son ouvrage intitulé : « Ayiti Toma, Haïti Chérie ».

Doktè Jean Casimir te resevwa yon doktora nan chanjman sosyal ak devlòpman de Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Li te ekri plizyè liv, chapit liv, ak atik sou istwa diplomatik d Ayiti ak devlopman nasyonal peyi a. Li te pwofesè nan inivèsite plizyè peyi, tankou Stanford University nan Kalifòni, Jamayik, Meksik, Kongo ak Brezil. Li te yon Visiting Mellon Fellow nan Duke University, Kawolin di Nord an 2010. Kounya li se yon Pwofesè nan Fakilte Siyans Imèn nan Inivèsite Deta d Ayiti.

Doktè Casimir te konseye Nasyonzini epi te anbasadè ayisyen Ozetazini sòti 1991 rive 1996. Li gen yon ekspètiz ak angajman ki vas anpil, ki makonnen rechèch sou istwa ak kilti d Ayiti ak lòt etid sou kesyon tè, pratik agrikòl, dlo, rebwazman ak relasyon lavil ak andeyò.

♦ 2015 – Gina Athena Ulysse

Gina Athena Ulysse was born in Haiti back in the day and migrated to the United States as a teenager. In the MTV era of the 1980s, her rebel spirit dreamt of becoming a rock star. After many fiascoes, she did the next best thing pursuing higher education. She earned a B.A. in anthropology and English from Upsala College and a Ph.D., as well as a master’s degree, in anthropology from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Though inspired by love of country to seek a doctorate with hopes of eventually serving her pays natal, Ulysse followed the advice of a wise elder and conducted dissertation research that examined the public lives and work of female independent international traders in Kingston. In the earlier years of her career, Haiti was the subject of her activist and artistic works. More recently, her programmatic line of research focuses broadly on black diasporic conditions using interdisciplinary methodologies in which she integrates performance, representation and public anthropology.

She is the author of Downtown Ladies: Informal Commercial Importers, A Haitian Anthropologist and Self-Making in Jamaica (2008), as well as Why Haiti Needs New Narratives: A Post-Quake Chronicle (2015). She is the guest editor of “Pawol Fanm Sou Douz Janvye,” a special section of Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism journal (2011), and more recently, “Caribbean Rasanblaj,” a special issue of e-misférica, New York University’s Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics journal (2015). Her articles and creative writing have appeared in AnthroNow, Feminist Studies, Gastronomica, Journal of Haitian Studies, PoemMemoirStory, Souls, and Transition, as well as numerous anthologies.

Her projects include: Because When God Is Too Busy: Haiti, me & THE WORLD; I Am Storm: Songs & Poems for Haiti and VooDooDoll What if Haiti Were A Woman: On Ti Travay Sou 21 Pwen Or An Alter(ed)native in Something Other Than Fiction. Her most recent piece Contemplating Absences & Distances uses techniques of rasanblaj juxtaposing 18th century grain consumption with the exchange value and consumption of black bodies during transatlantic slavery. Ulysse routinely presents at conferences and universities nationally and internationally. She serves on the editorial boards of AnthroNow, Meridians and Journal of Haitian Studies. A committed public intellectual, she intermittently blogs for AfricaIsACountry, AnthroNow, Huffington Post, Ms Blog and Tikkun Daily.

An artist-academic-activist, Ulysse describes herself as a Post-Zora Interventionist who, as Suzanne Césaire writes, is poised in a state of “permanent readiness for the Marvelous.” She directs the Haiti Illumination Project and is currently Professor of anthropology at Wesleyan University.

♦ 2014 – Michel DeGraff ♦

Michel DeGraff, born in Haiti, is Professor of Linguistics at MIT. His linguistic work mostly concerns the development and structures of Creole languages, with focus on his native Haitian
Creole (“Kreyòl”). This work is coupled with a social vision for the innovative incorporation of Kreyòl and technology in research and education toward sustainable development in Haiti.  For example, some of DeGraffʼs recent and ongoing projects have explored the strategic use of digital tools in Kreyòl to improve Haitian students’ active learning of math and science. DeGraff’s research agenda has two important implications for linguistics and for education- and language-related policies in Haiti: (i) Kreyòl is comparable to European and other languages
in terms of its development, structures and expressive capacity; (ii) Kreyòl is an essential tool for the academic and socio-economic progress of Haitians and their communities, especially these communities that have long been impoverished through exclusion and injustice. In DeGraff’s view, it is through the innovative, strategic and systematic use of Kreyòl that Haitian students can optimally develop their capacity for acquiring and building additional knowledge in STEM, in the Humanities and Social Sciences, and in second languages such as French, English, Spanish, etc. In addition to his contributions to research in linguistic theory and Creole studies, one key item on DeGraff’s agenda—a lifelong project, indeed—is to make high-quality education accessible to the greatest numbers of students throughout Haiti, while strengthening the foundations of Haiti’s linguistic and cultural identity. DeGraff believes that these linguistic, cultural and academic foundations are necessary conditions for Haiti to become a truly “emergent country.”

For more details on DeGraff’s biography and research, consult http://mit.edu/degraff and http://haiti.mit.edu .

♦ 2013 – Arnold Antonin & Frankétienne ♦

Arnold Antonin

It is difficult to make a powerful mark in a field such as cinematography, in which money is an important currency. Film is the medium that transcends class, and is “à la portée de tous,” reaching out to the public in ways that written literary production finds it difficult to do. Arnold Antonin has amply succeeded in his effort to reach a broad audience nationally in Haiti and internationally by forging strong characters in his fictional films, and showing strong Haitian personalities in his documentaries about our lives and culture. For his Women of Courage, he received a lifetime achievement award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002. Twice, he received the Paul Robinson African Diaspora Best Film Award at FESPACO, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in 2007 and 2009.

The author of more than 20 well-received films, he creates forums where social, political, and cultural debates can take place. Upon his return from exile in 1986, he notably created the Centre Pétion-Bolivar. It is not easy to be a filmmaker in Haiti, though it is absolutely necessary that we have a strong cinematographic industry. This reminds one of the efforts by the likes of poet Aimé Césaire, who argued that by becoming a playwright, one has a better chance of reaching out to a larger public, which Arnold Antonin has done with excellence both at home and abroad.


In an article in The New York Times on April 29, 2011, journalist Randal C. Archibold wrote: “Eccentric. Abstract. A ‘spiralist,’ who rejects realism and embraces disorder. Frankétienne — he combined his first and last names years ago — embraces chaos as a style he believes befits a country with a long, tumultuous history birthed in a slave revolt more than 200 years ago and scarred by a cascade of natural and man-made disasters. In chaos he finds order.”

Although this statement gives us a glimpse into the world of Frankétienne as a writer, the one that some scholars define as Haiti’s most important writer, this is only small coverage of the works and the talent of the Haitian artist, novelist and activist.

Frankétienne’s production includes more than 40 written works and by his own account about 2000 paintings and sketches. In 1975, Frankétienne wrote Dezafi, which many consider to be the first modern novel in Haitian Creole. Three years later, he produced Pèlin Tèt, a play that challenged the political oppression of the Duvalierist regime. After the 2010 earthquake, his works would gain more international attention with the opening in March 2010 of The Trap at a UNESCO forum in Paris.

Frankétienne was born Franck Etienne in 1936. He is an author, poet, playwright, musician and painter. Most if not all of his writings are exclusively in French and Haitian Creole. He has the creative ingenuity to invent new words, blending French and Haitian Creole. And as Archibold once remarked, “long digressions are de rigueur.”

Moreover to paraphrase the Haitian writer, Edwidge Danticat, Frankétienne remains a very popular writer among Haitians, in part because of his plays. As she further states, “His work can speak to the most intellectual person in the society as well as the most humble.”

This is the display of such ingenuity that we are celebrating at HSA by presenting to him our Award of Excellence.

♦ 2012 – Robert Fatton ♦

Robert Fatton, Jr. is the Julia A. Cooper Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs in the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia. He also served as Chair of the Department of Politics from 1997 to 2004 and Associate Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Virginia from 2010 to the present. A former board member, he also served as the Vice-President of the Haitian Studies Association from 2002-03. He is the author of several books and a large number of scholarly articles. His publications include: Black Consciousness in South Africa (1986); The Making of a Liberal Democracy: Senegal’s Passive Revolution, 1975-1985 (1987); Predatory Rule: State and Civil Society in Africa (1992); Haiti’s Predatory Republic: The Unending Transition to Democracy (2002); and The Roots of Haitian Despotism (2007). He is also co-editor with R. K. Ramazani of The Future of Liberal Democracy: Thomas Jefferson and the Contemporary World (2004); and Religion, State, and Society: Jefferson’s Wall of Segregation in Comparative Perspective (2009).

Born and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Robert Fatton studied in France in the mid-1970s, later earning a Bachelor’s Degree from Goshen College, Indiana, in 1976. He holds Master and Doctoral Degrees from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. He has been teaching at the University of Virginia since 1981.

Professor Robert Fatton’s book, Haiti’s Predatory Republic: The Unending Transition to Democracy (2002), has been called “the definitive work on contemporary Haitian politics.” He has given scores of lectures across the U.S. over the last two decades on the topic of African studies, global politics and Haiti’s history, political culture and governance. He has been interviewed by major media networks including National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” PBS’s News Hour, NPRs “Talk of the Nation,” CNN, and many other important venues. He is currently completing another book on Haiti and globalization.