June 19, 2021
The Haitian Studies Association is proud to celebrate Juneteenth!
The Haitian Studies Association is proud to celebrate Juneteenth! Today is the 156th anniversary of the emancipation of the last enslaved people held in bondage in Galveston, TX — two years after the Emancipation Proclamation; and two months after the end of the Civil War. The recognition of June 19 as a federal holiday is an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of African Americans, acknowledge the suffering of Black peoples everywhere and to reflect on the unending struggle for Black liberation that began in Haiti in 1791 when the enslaved made a pact to live free or die.
H.S.A stands in solidarity with everyone committed to producing more honest and complete accounts of our histories and those working for policies that advance social justice and acknowledge the humanity of Black people throughout the diaspora. As people of African descent, in spite of our differences (language, culture, or geography) we are connected by a common history. Our ancestors came to the Americas in shackles and have continuously fought for our freedom. This new national holiday must be more than a symbol, but a call for meaningful societal change.
June 7, 2021
Haitian Studies Association Book Prize (2021) – Call for Submissions
See Previous Years’ Recipients of the Book Prize » Recipients of the 2019 book prize The Haitian Studies Association announces its biennial Book Prize. The 2021 Prize will be awarded to the best single-authored book in Haitian Studies in the social sciences, with broad application beyond the academy, published between September 2019 and August 2021. […]
Town Hall Update (online event): ‘Decolonizing Haitian Studies’ (June 26, 2021)
As a follow-up to members’ priorities expressed at the 2020 Town Hall meeting, our June event will focus on the problem of coloniality in the field of Haitian Studies and our strategy to decolonize the HSA. All are invited to hear from scholars examining the question of decolonization from the standpoint of their respective disciplines and research interests. We will consider the dynamics of knowledge production, alongside issues of global inequality and anti-blackness, language, ethical collaboration, citational politics and other research practices within the interdisciplinary field of Haitian Studies.
Finally, we will describe the status of our Open Access database, a digital archive which aims to provide free access to scholarship by HSA members.
Documentary Screening: ‘Men Sa Lanmè Di’ with Q&A with Filmmaker & Marine Scientist (July 17, 2021)
From its trailer text: “The Haitian Sea as you’ve never seen or heard it before. In this documentary, the Sea tells its story with the Haitian people. Wave after wave, the Sea showcases its riches, reveals its mysteries, and raises the alarm. From the excessive use of its resources to the consequences of climate change and pollution, the Sea displays its different shades of blue and suggests opportunities to seize. This film is an invitation to travel, discover, and also to raise awareness. Haiti’s future lies in its coasts or will not be.”
May 25, 2021
Town Hall Response Strategy (2021)
International media often portrays Haiti as an ongoing crisis since its successful revolution for independence in 1804. This representation of history simultaneously fails to consider Haiti’s transnational roots and global connections and how Haitians persist in their brave fight for their freedom and sovereignty. Despite the Haitian Revolution’s triumph — an “unthinkable” act in the words of anthropologist/historian Michel-Rolph Trouillot — the event threatened the core of white supremacy. It resulted in dire repercussions against the new nation. In the face of “Western” critics, we aim to highlight real concerns in the country and stand in solidarity with Haiti. Men nou la! (We are here!)
Call for papers 2021: “Nou La Pi Rèd Toujou! Embodying a New Praxis”
The world has forever changed in the course of the past year. The Covid-19 pandemic with its 3 million death toll has left families devastated throughout the world and created major social, political and economic shifts everywhere as well as the need to adapt to new means of communication. It has also been a time of unprecedented worldwide re-awakening and wide ranging protests against racism, white supremacy, state sanctioned violence and unequal life conditions. People of all generations and all creeds and color have rallied to demand justice, stand against oppression of all sorts, and demand respect for human rights worldwide.
In Haiti and throughout the world, people are protesting against neoliberal austerity, state corruption, the shift to authoritarianism, unbridled repression and racism. This past year will go down in recent Haitian history as one of the most tumultuous and difficult years for the people of Haiti. 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.
Current realities regarding the gains of Haiti’s 1987 constitution (May 18)
One of the most current issues in Haiti is a referendum scheduled for June 17 for a new constitution called for by the current state. The proposed constitution involves a series of changes. This panel will discuss the legacy of the March 29, 1987 constitution, a national consensus after the fall of Duvalier in 1986. The 1987 constitution was written in a very specific context, to implant democracy and human rights. This panel will analyze the gains of the 1987 constitution in today’s context, comparing it with the proposed constitution, asking a range of questions for engaged Haitian citizens to make an informed decision.
Screening: “Stateless” A film by Michèle Stephenson (April 24)
In 1937, tens of thousands of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent were exterminated by the Dominican army, based on anti-black hatred fomented by the Dominican government. Fast-forward to 2013, the Dominican Republic’s Supreme Court stripped the citizenship of anyone with Haitian parents, retroactive to 1929. The ruling rendered more than 200,000 people stateless, without nationality, identity or a homeland. In this dangerous climate, a young attorney named Rosa Iris mounts a grassroots campaign, challenging electoral corruption and advocating for social justice. Director Michèle Stephenson’s new documentary Stateless traces the complex tributaries of history and present-day politics, as state-sanctioned racism seeps into mundane offices, living room meetings, and street protests. At a time when extremist ideologies are gaining momentum in the U.S. and around the world, STATELESS is a warning of what can happen in a society when racism runs rampant in the government.
Filmed with a chiaroscuro effect and richly imbued with elements of magical realism, STATELESS combines gritty hidden-camera footage with the legend of a young woman fleeing brutal violence to flip the narrative axis, revealing the depths of institutionalized oppression.
April 2, 2021
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.
March 14, 2021
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.
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.
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.
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.