Haitian Studies Association
April 2, 2021
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Letter from the editors of the Journal of Haitian Studies

We write to provide some important announcements regarding the Journal of Haitian Studies (JOHS), which you are entitled to receive as part of your membership, and apologize for the delays in producing and distributing recent issues.

As for everyone, the past year has been difficult for the journal. In addition to the challenges posed by the COVID crisis, which has heavily impacted our staff, editorial board, contributors, and reviewers, we underwent a departmental reorganization that resulted in a complicated transition as the journal moved to a different research unit. These factors, together with the ongoing closure of our campus offices, posed significant disruptions to our operations throughout the year. We apologize for any problems caused by the resulting delays, especially for those of you who submitted articles to us.

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March 14, 2021
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Call for proposals – H.S.A. 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. We also learned about the process, sharpened our focus, and reminded of the still very pronounced digital divide regarding our colleagues in Haiti.

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Understanding Haiti’s contemporary “crisis” and solidarity politics (Mar. 20)

Haiti has garnered front-page attention since February 7, when President Jovenel Moïse’s term expired. Rather than signal support for democracy in its oldest neighbor, newly inaugurated President Biden’s first words and actions continued U.S. support for Moïse. The Biden administration also deported almost as many Haitians in one month as Trump did all last year.

What’s happening on the ground in Haiti? How can people – in the Diaspora and our friends in countries around the world – engage in effective solidarity action?

This launch of the latest issue of the NACLA Report offers a series of grounded perspectives to not only reflect on Haiti’s contemporary situation as it unfolds, but also hopefully to inspire a more principled, informed, and engaged solidarity politics. Linked by history and the global racial economy, struggles in Haiti and in the United States are manifestations of an Empire grasping for new strategies as the extractivist paradigm is reaching its natural limit. The current moment requires more active engagement, and for us to see how we are not only connected by particular issues, but also connected to communities that are differently situated along global capitalism’s process of accumulation by appropriation.

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Working across Disciplines toward an Environmental Understanding for Haiti

Through this working session, we aim to (1) define a set of recommendations for management of Haitian land and natural resources in a time of climate change and profound environmental challenges, and (2) develop more effective models of environmental communication moving forward. Haitian history bears numerous approaches to environmental policy, ranging from excessive resource exploitation (at the level of central government) to a more balanced exchange that sees humans as integral participants within the ecosystem (at the level of a decentralized rural population). The balance of power weighted toward the former pole has brought large-scale destruction of ecosystems and loss of resources. Furthermore, such externally imposed policies as those of the United States Occupation (1915–34) have exacerbated the erosion of Haiti’s ecosystems. Today, Haiti ranks among the most vulnerable nations to climate change.

We hope to include Haitianists from a range of academic disciplines (natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities) and practitioners with diverse language, gender, and generational perspectives. This working session will examine case studies of programs directly involved in such initiatives as shoreline restoration, forestry, water resources management, and sustainable agricultural programs. We are particularly seeking those who can report on cooperative collaborations with ordinary residents, citing their insights, concerns, advice, and resistance. Participants will identify models with the potential to revolutionize policy and compile a set of future possibilities based on grounded realities.

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Chèche Lavi: Film Screening & Discussion (Feb. 6)

Chèche Lavi (2019) is a lyrical documentary portrait of two Haitian migrants, Robens and James, who find themselves stranded at the US Mexico border with no way forward and no one to depend on each other. The quiet, unexpected tenderness of their friendship shines in the eye of an incomprehensible geopolitical storm, even as the two men drift
towards drastically different futures… and a new wall rises on the horizon. This is a film about longing: for a place to fit in, for a stable life, for connection and companionship. It isn’t about crossing borders; it’s about how it feels when you can’t get across. It’s about what happens when you end up in a totally unexpected place when you have to start over.

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January 6, 2021
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Message from the President – January 2021

January 1, 2021

I am writing this message from Haiti… Today I shared my soup joumou and also had some of my friends’. Now I want to reflect on the past year, both to thank you for your contributions and to update you on H.S.A. matters for the upcoming year.

As you are hearing in the news, the situation here is serious. Very. The country is in lockdown again, but it’s not because the people support the movements. Even if people risk their lives during a wave of kidnapping to go out in the streets, there are few cars available as there was a gas shortage for several days. Even the far-away Grandans isn’t spared. The future remains uncertain. There’s no parliament. The president is ruling by decree… One of the last executive orders turned protesting into a “terrorist” act, and 944 demonstraters were killed in the first nine months of 2020. In a month, on February 7, the president’s term is supposed to expire. But no one knows what will happen, how this next chapter will turn out.

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The Rights to Live Creatively: Artistic Expression, Visibility, Solidarity (Dec. 14, 2020)

In light of right-wing authoritarianism in Haiti today that exposes the clientelist nature of the justice system and increases violence against all who seek to live creatively, this Working Session convenes to hear from Haitian freedom fighters and artists on the ground in a series of webinar discussions and focused virtual gatherings.

This second panel features cultural workers Maksaens Denis, independent artist, and Hetera Estamphil, director of KOURAJ, who will share with us the ways in which their works challenge gendered and sexual norms and offer us another vision of and for Haiti. The conversation will be moderated by Josué Azor, and feature performances by Yonel Charles and Jenny Cadet. The goals are to think together with attendees to design an action plan that supports and amplifies their efforts toward creative living in Haiti.

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Conference Program (2020)

Session 1: 11:00 a.m. – noon Eastern Time [1A] Haiti in the Era of Climate Change: A Transnational Stakeholder’s Perspective in Haiti’s Governance and Challenges of Sustainability Room: [A] Pòtoprens Discussant: MacKendy Juste (GIOLA Build) Community-University Partnership: Urban Agriculture Infrastructures Roswald Georges (Service en Evangélisation, Education et Développement (SEED)) Designing Community Strategies for Resilience Micheline […]

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Pictures from the 32nd Annual Conference

Nou La Pi Rèd! Embodying a New Praxis October 10, 2020 (Online)

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2020 Conference – Town Hall

Moments such as the current intersectional crisis oblige scholars and professionals to do more than talk or write. We are compelled to come together to think critically and productively about how theory and practice intertwine and how to incite meaningful change.

This conference is an opportunity for conversations across advocacy NGOs, policymakers, and international institutions who will benefit from the reservoir of interdisciplinary knowledge that H.S.A. has been filling for over 30 years. How did we do? How can we evaluate ourselves individually and collectively?

This Town Hall is an opportunity for members to deliberate on these urgent questions about our praxis as individual scholar/practitioners/artists as well as the association. What role should H.S.A. be playing? How do we get there?

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2020 Conference – Keynote Event

The theme is this year’s conference is nou la pirèd. It is an assertion that we are here, and we are here to stay. In Haiti and throughout the world, people are protesting against neoliberal austerity, state corruption, the shift to authoritarianism, and unbridled repression. This was how the call for proposals began, written long before COVID and George Floyd (and Breonna Taylor and countless others whose names and lives don’t receive mainstream attention). Moments such as these oblige scholars and professionals to do more than talk or write. We are compelled to come together to think critically and productively about how theory and practice intertwine and how to incite meaningful change.

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September 23, 2020
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Details about our 2020 Conference

We hope that you and yours are in good health and with an active support network. These indeed are difficult times, in Haiti and in the U.S. We are excited to let members know that the conference planning is completed. We have 35 excellent panels that span the disciplines, including artists and practitioners, in all three of H.S.A.’s official languages. The conference program will be available shortly. Stay tuned!

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The Rights to Live Creatively: Artistic Expression, Visibility, Solidarity (Oct. 8, 2020)

In light of right-wing authoritarianism in Haiti today that exposes the clientelist nature of the justice system and increases violence against all who seek to live creatively, this Working Group convenes to hear from Haitian freedom fighters and artists on the ground in a series of webinar discussions and focused virtual gatherings.

The first panel features cultural workers Josué Azor, Jenny Cadet, and Maksaens Denis who will share with us the ways in which their works challenge gendered and sexual norms and offer us another vision of and for Haiti. During the gathering that follows the webinar, they will think together with attendees to design an action plan that supports and amplifies their efforts toward creative living in Haiti.

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Haitian Art: Koneksyon, Rezistans, Istwa (Oct. 5, 2020)

With the extremely generous and catalyzing platform offered to us by the Haitian Studies Association, the present project offers first and foremost a call to us as scholars, pedagogues, and publishers to be ever rigorous and conscientious  about the ways in which we engage theory, in this case, theory and historical scholarship on and about Haitian visual arts. How might we more rigorously create new mechanisms by which to better facilitate more constant dialogue in regard to the ways in which we speak, think, and write alongside Haitian artists and scholars, especially those writing in Haitian Kreyòl and French?

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