Haitian Studies Association

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The Character Assassination of Haiti (November 1, 2021)

Co-sponsored by Union Theological Seminary, Haitian Studies Association, and In Cultured Company.
Since Haiti’s successful establishment of the second nation-state in the Americas, Bwa Kayiman has been falsely claimed as Haiti making a pact with the devil in order to be emancipated and independent. This conversation will critically analyze the role imperialism, Christianity, and anti-Blackness have had on Haiti’s current politics, history, and spirituality.

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33rd Annual Conference – Recording of Plenary “Haiti in Crisis” (October 23, 2021)

Without a doubt, Haiti’s ongoing crisis will reach a nadir in late October 2021. Following his illegitimate election and extraconstitutional hold on power after a bogus constitutional plebiscite, the regime crisis will be reaching a climax of resistance to tyranny. Whether or not liberal institutions or constructivist ideas can overcome power disparities in some contexts, Haiti has always had a “state against the nation” Now independently sanctioned violence has been privatized or subcontracted enforcement. A system of extortion and embezzlement is subtle, but still continuing from the roots of Duvalierism established through the Macoute networks.

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33rd Annual Conference – Recording of Keynote Panel (October 22, 2021)

Thinking through our professional, disciplinary and interdisciplinary lenses, we ask: What does truly transformational scholarship look like? How do we foreground perspectives that have historically been excluded and paint a more complete picture of Haiti’s past and the possibilities for her future?

This keynote panel offers an opportunity for a conversation with three people who work full time in Haiti, with one foot in the academic world and another in a host of public engagement. The conference theme – and the current historical moment – demand a new praxis, using Gramscian terminology. What role does scholarship play in solutions?

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The Rights to Live Creatively (October 20, 2021)

As the first official convening of the HSA Sexualities Working Group, this event builds on “The Rights to Live Creatively,” a series of conversations and roundtables we facilitated in Fall 2020. We gather to share knowledge and galvanize our commitments, interests, and labor. The first hour of this meeting will feature presentations by Haiti-based community organizers Merlin Jean and Vadson Nicholas, Directors of Cap Haitien-based human rights organization Heritage; Sandy Pierre, Community Activist of Organisation Arc-en-Ciel d’Haiti (ORAH); and Soeurette Policar, Executive Director of Organisation de Développement et de Lutte contre la Pauvreté (ODELPA). In the second hour, we will move into conversation and action planning with all attendees. What are the stakes of “living creatively” in Haiti at this moment? How might we build transnational solidarity projects together?

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The Roots Are Many and Deep: Social, Cultural, and Spiritual Dimensions of Haiti’s Ecological Crisis (Oct. 19, 2021)

On boarding the ship to his captivity in 1802, Toussaint L’Ouverture delivered a characterization of liberty that would become famous: its roots are many and deep. In the 217 years since Haiti’s independence, the nation’s liberty has been challenged, its roots entangled with invasive species, likewise many and deep. This meeting of HSA’s Working Group on the Environment (Konbit) will present the multidisciplinary perspectives of five scholars and activists. After introductory remarks—presenters’ names and affiliations and discussion ground rules—each of the five presenters will make a statement of no more than five minutes in order to allow maximum time for comments, questions, and discussion with attendees. The meeting will end with an announcement from our blog/vlog team about the progress of that effort, and with suggested ways for all to become involved.

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Advocacy Day Workshop Sustainable Political Advocacy (October 21, 2021)

For starters—what is policy advocacy and how is it different from, and complementary to, political activism? Moreover, working for justice on any issue, including through policy advocacy, is an exhausting process, especially in complex contexts like Haiti. As so many issues are pressing for our time and attention, we risk burnout and being overworked. Learn how to craft an approach to policy advocacy that also acknowledges the need for self-care and maintaining energy for long-term, effective engagement. Attendees will come away with best practices for advocacy and a deeper understanding of various advocacy tools and how to use them.

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Advocacy Day Briefing: Disentangling Discourses of Disaster (October 21, 2021)

As part of a multi-day advocacy effort to bring up-to-date information and analysis from community and civic leaders in Haiti, this public briefing aims to educate and empower scholars, activists, journalists, aid practitioners, and policymakers. Even before the assassination of president Jovenel Moïse, organizations in Haiti engaged a process of reconciliation and dialogue in an attempt to assert Haitian people as the center of debates in reimagining the country and offering a democratic transition that would be diverse and inclusive. The July 7 assassination laid bare both the importance and fragility of this effort. A public briefing held two weeks later brought up the continuities of misrule and domination by both foreign and national elite interests.

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Translating Haiti: Within and Beyond the Classroom (August 21, 2021)

As part of the Emerging Scholars Translating Haiti Series, this event is a conversation between public scholars and the editors/contributors of Teaching Haiti: Strategies for Creating New Narratives. The event will focus on new ways of teaching about Haiti using different modalities. Discussants will share some aspects of their teaching practice and how they educate the wider public about Haitian culture, history, and contemporary politics. This event will also engage participants through Q/A and small group discussions.

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Special Online Event: 2 weeks after, what perspectives for Haiti?

The international press exploded with coverage of the assassination of Haiti’s president Jovenel Moïse, who was executed in the early hours of Wednesday, July 7, 2021.  That same day, several large non-Haitian institutions opined about what Haiti needs.  Some called for a new military occupation despite multiple flawed and failed past interventions in Haiti, while others angled to have a role in decision-making and the electoral calendar. The press reported the speeches of one individual who claimed power shortly after the assassination, but that authority was contested shortly thereafter.  Where do things stand two weeks later?  What are today’s movements in Haiti demanding? What are their models for Haiti? This panel provides Haitian activists and civil society representatives with a platform to share their analyses of recent events, provide additional context through their lived experiences and put forth proposals for the future of Haiti. Speakers’ nuanced perspectives will continue to layer the conversation and help inform media professionals, scholars, students, members of solidarity organizations, civil society, the Diaspora and the general public–anyone interested in Haitian organizations’ voices is welcome.

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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.”

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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.

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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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Pictures from the 32nd Annual Conference

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

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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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