Haitian Studies Association

HSA Life Time Achievement Award

The HSA Life Time Achievement Award is given at no special interval to recognize the entirety of a person’s life achievement and his/her academic and professional contributions to the field of Haitian Studies.

♦ 2023 ♦

Dr. Robert Fatton Jr.

Dr. Robert Fatton Jr. is one of the most accomplished and recognized scholars on Haitian society, politics, and history in Haiti, the United States, and internationally. He is the Ambassador Henry J. Taylor and Mrs. Marion R. Taylor Professor of Politics, Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

Since receiving his Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 1981, he has taught at the University of Notre Dame (1976-1981); at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, The John Hopkins University, in the Spring 1990; Fall 1991; and Fall 1992; and at the University of Virginia since 1981 where he also served as Department Chair (1977-2000 and 2001-2004).

Before turning his scholarly gaze on Haiti, Robert earned a reputation as a scholar on Africa with his many books, articles, and book reviews on South Africa and Senegal. Likewise, his publications on Haiti include more than three dozen articles in journals and anthologies, and five books, including Haiti’s Predatory Republic: The Unending Transition to Democracy (2002); The Roots of Haitian Despotism (2007); Haiti: Trapped in the Outer Periphery (2014); and The Guise of Exceptionalism: Unmasking the National Narratives of Haiti and the United States (2021).

Robert has lectured at colleges, universities, and professional association meetings; made presentations, and offered commentaries on public media (radio, television, newspapers) in the United States, Haiti, the Caribbean, Africa, Israel, Mexico, and Canada; and has been interviewed, written op-eds, and quoted in major newspapers/journals, including The New York Times; The Los Angeles Times; The Miami Herald; The Economist; Chicago Tribune; AP; NPR; The World/BBC; CBC; CBS Radio; MediaPart, Paris; Radio-TV Solidarité Haiti; and Radio Métropole, Haiti.

A long-time member of the Haitian Studies Association, he served as its Vice-President from 1997-2001; a member of the Board from 2001-2003 and 2015-2018; and as a member of the Editorial Board of The Journal of Haitian Studies. He also received the Haitian Studies Association “Leadership Recognition” in 2009, and the Haitian Studies Association Award of Excellence in 2017.

Dr. LeGrace Benson

Dr. LeGrace Benson is Professor Emerita of SUNY-Empire State College and the Founder and Director of the Arts of Haiti Research Project.LeGrace holds an interdisciplinary Masters in Arts and Philosophy from the University of Georgia in 1955; and Doctor of Philosophy in Perception, Art History, and Philosophy of Education in 1974 from Cornell University.

An interdisciplinary scholar by training, LeGrace Benson rose to the rank of Associate Professor of Art History at Cornell University, and went on to serve as Associate Dean for Special Programs for Women at Wells College, followed by Associate Dean for Academic Programs at the Albany Center of Empire State College.

LeGrace has been a member of the Haitian Studies Association since its inception, attending the inaugural conference at Tufts University in 1989. She has made invaluable contributions to the HSA, serving multiple terms on the Board of Directors, acting as the Associate Editor of the Journal of Haitian Studies since its founding, and organizing the first conference to be held in Cap Haïtien during her term as HSA President in 2016. Since then, LeGrace has been active on a number of HSA committees and is co-convenor of the organization’s working group on the environment. She has also been active in the Haitian Arts Society and KOSANBA.

Students and colleagues in Haitian Studies cherish LeGrace Benson’s contributions to scholarship through presentations and publications. Besides lectures delivered at venues including the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Center for Black Studies in Santa Barbara, and many others in the US and abroad, she has published chapters and articles on subjects ranging from André Breton and Muslim antecedents in Drapo Vodou to Haiti’s Ghetto Biennale to the Royal Garden of the Kingdom of Haiti. In 2015 Ian Randle Publishers released her book, Arts and Religions of Haiti: How the Sun Illuminates under the Cover of Darkness, which was praised as “a sweeping and lavishly illustrated study.” Like her book’s organizing principle, LeGrace Benson’s own engagement, contributions, and commitment to Haitian Studies take the form of a long, enriched conversation. She has influenced and continues to inspire generations of students and scholars in Haitian Studies and beyond.

LeGrace’s forthcoming book is focused on the history, preservation and pilgrimage of Haiti’s World Monument, Citadelle and Palais Sans-Souci, jointly authored with architect Frederick Mangones and photographer Antonio Marcelli.