Haiti Beyond Commemorations and Boundaries: New Perspectives | May 12-14, 2016

Franke Institute for the Humanities, 1100 East 57th St

The joint graduate and faculty conference Haiti: Beyond Commemorations and Boundaries will be held May 12-14, 2016 at The University of Chicago Franke Institute for the Humanities. An international group of scholars and doctoral candidates meet for the first time in a face-to-face gathering to assess the landscape of Haitian studies with an emphasis on the unique issues faced by graduate students and postdoctoral scholars who identify their field of interests in French Caribbean, Francophone, or French/Francophone literatures.

The conference explores the field of Haitian Studies through multiple approaches that go beyond geographical and linguistic boundaries as well as the chronological limitations of a century. The aim is to transcend the curiosity towards the Haitian Revolution, and the extended series of sociopolitical crises made more acute in the wake of the 2010 earthquake. Vast fields of potential inquiry in Haitian Studies (notably literature, history, anthropology, culture, and language) are too often under-examined, whereas the most popular of these fields seem bound by deeply entrenched traditional academic discourses. This event is an attempt to generate a pertinent, innovative, and theoretically informed approach to understanding Haiti. It proposes a brainstorming on current work in a number of disciplines, thereby attempting to move scholarly work and theoretical reflection on Haiti “beyond commemorations,” as the conference’s title so aptly puts it. The contributors represent a diverse group of scholars (both established and young researchers) in terms of discipline, methodological and theoretical perspectives. The conference will discuss the issues introduced above, with a special emphasis on all sorts of new ground-breaking projects related to the context of a New World intellectual history of Haiti and the Black American Diaspora since the French Revolution.

Papers cover (but are not limited to) the uncharted connection between late nineteenth-century Haitian thinkers (such as Anténor Firmin, Louis-Joseph Janvier) and Booker T. Washington, on the one hand, and W.E.B. Dubois and Jean Price-Mars (the Father of Negritude according to Senghor), on the other. A comparative analysis of the race issues and political visions of Black writers and historians in the context of a New World intellectual history of Haiti and the Black American Diaspora at the end of the nineteen century. Some following questions are: Is there an opportunity to understand the intellectual history of Haiti and the Black Atlantic? How and why does the French/Francophone tradition examine Haitian culture differently? How can we possibly talk about postcolonialities in the case of Haiti which has been independent since 1804? How does history of literature or philosophy of history engage with issues of slavery, colonialism, and the colonial legacy of racial conflict within Haiti? How to re-think Haitian music, culture, art, and tradition beyond colonialism and voodoo? What about Nietzsche and Haiti beyond Hegel and Haiti?

Conference organizers: 

Generously sponsored by: The University of Chicago Department of Romance Languages & Literatures, Franke Institute for the Humanities, The Humanities Visiting Committee at the University of Chicago, CIS Norman Wait Harris Fund, Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture, France Chicago Center, Center for Latin American Studies.

For a full conference schedule >>