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.