Haitian Studies Association’s Working Groups (2021)
Last year the H.S.A. piloted Working Sessions, to great enthusiasm from our members. The five live webinars from three Working Sessions were well attended, and generated interest to keep this series of bottom-up interdisciplinary spaces going.
Members like you have asked for new ways of connecting, being involved, and many of you have expressed the desire to make our collective scholarship relevant to conversations in policymaking, philanthropy, and legislation regarding Haiti. We know that cultivating a diverse and inclusive scholarly community, a lakou, is one of the ongoing strengths of our association. Working Groups will both build on this strength and foster more engaged scholarship.
Last year’s pilot experience with Working Sessions has shown us that synchronous, online events can work for members, who expressed a strong desire for more regular events this year.
This year we are excited to present the following three working groups.
Archives and Public Memory in Haiti and the Diaspora
Conveners: Hadassah St. Hubert, Elizabeth Pierre-Louis Augustin, Laura Wagner, Frederick Mangonès
The Archives and Public Memory Working Group will explore the preservation, access, and use of Haitian archives, in Haiti and abroad. We will think critically about how institutions decide which archives are saved and which are not, including the resources they are willing and able to devote to preserving Haitian national memory. We will also examine the challenges of preserving these collections and making them accessible to the public, from funding barriers and technological barriers to climate change and political upheaval. How might US universities and institutions reframe their relationships with Haitian institutions as collaborations and contributive justice? The Working Group will encourage the participation of users of archives from academia and beyond — including journalists, artists, policymakers, activists, and social media content creators — to explore how these collections can reach broader audiences and publics.
The Sexualities Working Group
Conveners: Josué Azor, Dasha Chapman, Mario LaMothe, Mamyrah Prosper
As queer artivist Josué Azor states, “my work is militant because I live in a place where my existence is extraordinary. Living as we are and as we please is a militant act.” The Sexualities Working Group mobilizes toward the rights to live creatively for Haitian LGBTQ/M-community, Vodouyizan, and all those who do not conform to sexual/gendered norms. We are U.S. and Haiti-based scholar-practitioners who desire to create stronger relationships between institutional resources, scholarly-activist efforts, and Haitians with whom we work and are inspired. Building on our Fall 2020 working sessions, we convene over the next three years to catalyze new networks and knowledge between scholars, activists, artists, and queer Haitians living in resistance to multiple assaults on their existence. Through a series of performance festivals, working sessions, and an online resource platform, we collectivize shared commitments to bolstering the work of queer Haitian crusaders.
Working across Disciplines toward Environmental Understanding for Haiti
Conveners: LeGrace Benson, Lois Wilcken
Working across Disciplines toward Environmental Understanding for Haiti aims to (1) bring the pressing issues of the environmental crisis experienced in Haiti to the attention of HSA and a wider public, (2) provide accessible information relevant to the issues, and (3) provide a forum for presentation and discussion of approaches and possibilities.
The Working Group would maintain a listserv for ongoing committee discussions and decisions, with periodic formal agenda meetings as needed. It would continue to search out, receive, and collate information in an open-source, searchable bibliography (including online publications). We would present a monthly, vetted blog on an environmentally relevant topic. The Group would encourage working group members in their own research efforts to extent possible and encourage submittal of proposals for the HSA annual conference.