In a recent article in The History Teacher, Dr Erica Johnson Edwards argued that the Haitian Revolution should be taught not simply as an extension of the French Revolution or as a part of the revolutionary Atlantic World, but as a world historical event in its own right. The article contains a useful review of the literature regarding teaching the Haitian Revolution, and clearly explains the pitfalls and benefits of different approaches. The History Teacher is an open-access journal – I recommend the article to anyone interested in thinking about what the Haitian Revolution can teach us.
For those lucky enough to be in London, the British Museum’s exhibition on Haiti and Toussaint is on for a couple more weeks. But before you make the trip to the Museum, you might want to read this exhibition review by Tabitha McIntosh, a research student who works on revolutionary Haiti. McIntosh is unimpressed by the Museum’s efforts in this exhibition, but argues that the “jumble of objects…demonstrates for visitors rather more than the Museum intended: that most of the material history of revolutionary Haiti is scattered around the globe and buried in the archives, institutions, and private collections of the Atlantic powers that vied—and vie—for dominance of the Caribbean.” The review is definitely worth a read!
Another great Caribbean-focused post on the Age of Revolutions Blog.
By Nathan H. Dize
In May 2017, France celebrated its eleventh day commemorating the Abolition of Slavery. Throughout the Republic, mayors gave speeches and placed wreaths of flowers before statues and plaques in homage of key figures in the history of abolition. In many cities, this meant honoring Toussaint Louverture, the leader who led his compatriots in the Haitian Revolution until he was arrested, deported, and imprisoned in France from August 1802 until his death in April 1803. However, the French Republic has done little to recognize the circumstances that led to Louverture’s death on French soil as part of these commemorative celebrations.
Monuments to Louverture often only include mention of the oft-cited “tree of liberty,” his abolitionism, or that he “died in France.” Statues and plaques of Toussaint Louverture in Bordeaux, Grenoble, and in the Château…
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The Asahi Shimbun Displays
A revolutionary legacy
Haiti and Toussaint Louverture
22 February – 22 April 2018
— Read on www.britishmuseum.org/
Haiti has been in the international news this past week, not due to anything of its own making. In the aftermath, historians of Haiti have been very active, taking advantage of the spotlight to get Haiti’s story out there, in all its complexity. I’ve compiled a list of links to some responses to President Trump’s alleged slur, as well as some digital databases which will enable research on Haiti and its past. Please feel free to contact me with any additional links or content.
Haiti: A Reading List, from the University Press of Florida. And as a bonus, these books are all 30% off until 31 January, 2018 in the Press’ New Year Sale.
Read the introduction to Laurent Dubois’ 2012 book Haiti The Aftershocks of History.
50 Haitian Children’s Books about Haiti and Haitian Culture.
Duke University’s Radio Haiti Archive – audio from Radio Haiti-Inter, documenting Haitian politics, society & culture, 1957-2003
New York Times column, 12 January 2018: Haiti’s Resilience as Seen Through Literature
Washington Post column, 12 January 2018: This is how ignorant you have to be to call Haiti a shithole
A list of responses to President Trump’s comments on Haiti, published on HNet (Humanities and Social Sciences Online) 13 January, 2018, compiled by Dr Marlene Daut, with links. See also the H-Haiti Blog.
‘Currents in Conversation: Race, Racism and Immigration’ – a panel discussion at the Carter G. Woodson Institute, university of Virginia, 22 January 2018. The discussion will be recorded and later available to listen via the Institute’s website. I’ll update this post once there is a link to the discussion, but details of the event are available here.
If you click on the tag Haiti below, you’ll see all the other posts I’ve published about Haiti – many contain details of digital resources for researching Haiti’s past.
And because I’ve spent much of this week revising a thesis chapter which touches on the Haitian Revolution and War of Independence, I must point out the excellent chronology of Haitian history (from 1492 to 1817) in Youngquist & Pierrot’s edition of Marcus Rainsford’s An Historical Account of the Black Empire of Hayti (1805). The chronology appears on pages xi-xv.
The latest edition of SX Salon contains a detailed and thoughtful review by Erin Zavitz of Dr Marlene Daut’s 2015 book Tropics of Haiti: Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1789-1865. SX Salon is a literary platform which reviews and engages with Caribbean literature, broadly defined, and is part of the larger SX project.
I’m always on the lookout for freely available digital resources so was excited to see links within Zavitz’s review to two digital projects connected with Tropics of Haiti. Both are brilliant examples of different ways of presenting information—not to mention demonstrating Daut’s generosity as a scholar in sharing her work.
The first online project is Fictions of the Haitian Revolution, in which Daut lists the hundreds of texts she uncovered whilst researching her book. The site lists works in French, English, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, and German. Daut updates the site regularly with news about Tropics of Haiti, the Anthology of Haitian Revolutionary Fictions, and her archival findings.
The second resource is an online story map of the Revolution, The Haitian Atlantic: A Literary Geography. The site traces some of the ways that Atlantic world writers attempted to engage with the history, language, and legacy of the Haitian Revolution in the long nineteenth century. Take a look – this is a beautiful site.
The British Library’s Endangered Archives programme contributes to the preservation of archival material that is in danger of destruction, neglect, or physical deterioration world-wide. In exciting news for historians of Haiti, the Endangered Archives programme has just approved a grant to work with the Bibliothèque Haïtienne des Frères de l’Instruction Chrétienne (BHFIC) in Port-au-Prince to digitise ninety-one Haitian newspapers published between 1813 and 1913. As set out in the Project overview, the material in the collection has been identified as BHFIC staff as vulnerable to degradation. The newspapers date from the years when Haiti was emerging from the Revolution. As the project team note, a rich and expanding international scholarship engages with the central impact of the Haitian Revolution—but research on Haiti’s post-revolutionary years “declines precipitously,” leaving an enormous gap in our understanding of the new nation after the first decade of the nineteenth century. Making the newspapers for that period accessible online will open up research possibilities in the future.
The digitised newspapers will eventually be available online via the British Library and the Digital Library of the Caribbean.
I learnt about this project on twitter—to monitor progress on the project, I suggest following Claire Antone Payton, a historian and PhD candidate at Duke University, and Erin Zavitz, Latin American and Caribbean History professor at University of Montana-Western.
Click here to go to the British Library Project Overview.
In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World, Liz Covart interviews James Alexander Dun, the author of Dangerous Neighbours. In the episode, Dun explores how the Haitian Revolution shaped the way Americans thought about their own revolution. The discussion begins with one of the best summaries of the Haitian Revolution I’ve ever heard (or read), which makes the episode worth listening to for that alone. Dun goes on to carefully explain the intellectual and revolutionary connections between France, Saint Domingue (Haiti) and early America, providing new insights into the Atlantic world of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Registration is now open for this conference, to be held at Senate House, London, on 23 and 24 May this year.
The programme is varied, and encompasses academic presentations, ’roundtable’ discussions, and practical workshop sessions. For example, there’s a workshop entitled ‘Creating Memoirs and Recording Experience’ which will focus on how to produce podcasts and write memoirs.
The conference looks fascinating, but for those of us who can’t attend, it’s still worth taking a look at the programme. If a paper title sparks your interest, take a look at the presenter’s work online—that’s a great way to find out who is researching a particular issue, question or region.
As always, if any blog readers do attend the conference, let me know. It would be great to post a follow-up to the conference, or an individual paper or workshop.
This is a link to the conference web page and I’ve copied the programme below.
10.15-12.15 Title TBC: Roundtable discussion between Caribbean migrants to Britain. Chaired by Roderck Westmaas (Guyana Speaks).
13.00-14.30 Panel One: ‘Reconciling the Past: Memory and Testimony in the Caribbean and Beyond’.
Denise Noble (Birmingham City University), ‘The Decolonial Poetics of Memory and Re-Memorying’.
Kelly Delancy (National Museum of the Bahamas), ‘History to Heritage: A Heritage Assessment of Tarpum Bay, Eleuthera, The Bahamas’.
Joan Andzeuh Nche, (Goldsmiths, University of London), ‘Questioning Relation and the Poetics of Home in Derek Walcott’s The Arkansas Testament’.
14.30-15.30 Workshop One: Creating Memoirs and Recording Experience: This session on how to produce podcasts and write memoirs.
15.45-17.15 Panel Two: ‘The Transnational Caribbean: Sites of (Neo)Colonial Contact’.
Clara Rachel Eybalin Casséus (IMLR, University of London), ‘Debt and the Haitian Quake: Mapping Mobility Through the Memory of the French Port of La Rochelle’.
Simeon Simeonov (Brown University), ‘The Consular Caribbean in the Age of Revolution: The Role of US and British Consulates in the Spanish American Revolutions’.
Nadine Chambers (Independent Researcher), ‘Decolonial, Post-Colonial or Neo-Colonial? The Rocky, Hard Places Between First Peoples and Arrivants in the Caribbean and Beyond’.
17.15-18.15 Keynote: Matthew Smith (University of the West Indies, Mona), ‘Loving and Leaving the New Jamaica: Reckoning with the 1960s’.
10.00-11.30 Panel Three: ‘The Language of (De)Colonisation: Literature and Education’.
James Williams (Queen Mary University), ‘“More baká than border”: Shibboleths in Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao’.
Marie Lily Cerat (The Graduate Center, City University of New York), ‘Decolonizing and (Re)Theorizing the Haitian Experience: Vision of a Haitian natifnatal Epistemology’.
Ruth Minott Egglestone (Independent Researcher), ‘Finding the Anancyesque in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and the Decolonisation Project in Jamaica Between 1938 and 1958’.
11.45-12.45 Workshop Two: Organising for the Caribbean: session on how to campaign for change in the Caribbean.
13.30-15.00 Panel Four: ‘Arguing Around Decolonisation: De-colonial Futures’.
Karen Salt (University of Nottingham), ‘Decolonisation, States of Blackness and the Problem of Black Nullification’.
Laura Lomas (Rutgers University), ‘Lourdes Casal’s Decolonial Writing in Havana and New York’.
Miguel Gualdrón (DePaul University), ‘Memories of the Abyss: Glissant’s Philosophy of Caribbean History in the Context of Césaire and Fanon’.
15.15-16.15 Panel Five: ‘Shifting Perceptions of the Caribbean: Reconfiguring Family and Nation’.
Adom Philogene Heron (ILAS, University of London), ‘The Name of the Father in the Caribbean: Myth, Metaphor, Multiplicity’.
Maria A. Lee Strohmayer (Independent Researcher), ‘Curating the Nation: The Politics of Recognition in a Bahamian National Museum’.
16.15-16.45 Performance by Rubén Dávila, ‘El Vuelo del Golondrino’ on the experience of Caribbean and Andean migrants to New York.
16.45-17.45 Guest Speakers: Tina K. Ramnarine (Royal Holloway, University of London); William ‘Lez’ Henry (University of West London).
While doing some background research on the indigenous people of St.Vincent, I came across a great online exhibition on the King’s College London website. “The Paradise of the World:” conflict and society in the Caribbean” was originally held at KCL in 2011, but is now available as an online exhibition. This is such a great way to share resources and information—I love seeing exhibitions migrate from the real world to the online arena so that researchers can make use of the content for years afterwards.
The exhibition drew largely upon the holdings of the historical library collection of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and explored the history of the Caribbean region from the sixteenth century to 1900. Because the exhibition is based on British documentation and literature, the exhibition clearly approaches the Caribbean form the perspective of British interaction with the region. The exhibition provides an overview of Britain’s relationship with Spain as it relates to the Caribbean, international rivalry, the sugar trade and revolts and revolution in Jamaica and Haiti. and the development of the sugar industry and trade. In relation to indigenous peoples in the Caribbean (which is how I stumbled across the exhibition), there is a very good overview of indigenous peoples of Guyana and St.Vincent as well as some material on Jacques Du Tetre’s interaction with indigenous people in the region and his writings. Finally, the exhibition covers emancipation, and nineteenth century Caribbean colonial life.
This exhibition would be very useful for introductory research on the Caribbean (particularly the British Caribbean), and it includes a number of primary sources such as books, artwork and documentation which are available online. Click here to go to the KCL exhibition.