The epicenter of the earthquake that brought Haiti to her knees on January 12, 2010 is located about seven or eight miles from my childhood neighborhood of Fontamara, just outside of Port-au-Prince proper. I was leaving my office at NYU, … Continue reading “Treading Contradictions and Ambiguities”
On the second seamlessly dark night after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake leveled Port-au-Prince on January 12, 2010, I was lying against the unusually cold earth, and for the first time since that initial tremble, sleeping. Once packed into precarious dwellings … Continue reading “State Bricolage”
In 2004, I published a history of the Haitian Revolution called Avengers of the New World. It told the story of how, in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, enslaved people organized to overthrow the slave regime, and in the process … Continue reading “Thinking with Haiti”
Along with so many emigrant members of KoridÃ² (Corridor), a rural community in LÃ©ogane at the epicenter of the earthquake, I anxiously endured the prolonged silence between the Outside and Inside of the transnational community. Until January 13, we had … Continue reading “Run From the Earthquake, Fall Into The Abyss: A LÃ©ogane Paradox”
The catastrophe of January 12th is beyond human comprehension. In fact, it is beyond imagination, in the very precise sense that you cannot want to imagine it. But it is also produced as incomprehensible by the media: dead black bodies, wherever you look. People without names, without history, without location: mere bodies, all black, all shoveled into mass graves without much ado. So different from our protective sense of bodily integrity in the North; yet familiar, since it is Haiti: exposed to a gaze which at times borders on the pornographic, a country up for grabs.
Haitians have been struggling for decades to build what they call yon lot Ayiti — “another Haiti.” The popular movement of the 1980s, which helped end the Duvalier family dictatorship and launch the democratization of Haitian society, was based on the radical hope that the future was open and full of promise. Hope was thus a central political category, often intimately connected with suffering and misery — the most common names for the stark reality of daily life.
As information regarding January 12th’s earthquake in Port au Prince and its subsequent after shocks becomes available the staggering toll that this catastrophe will yield on Haiti is slowly starting to settle in. Each day the death toll–real and projected–rises … Continue reading “Neither Here, Nor There”
Long before the powerful 7.0 magnitude earthquake (and several aftershocks) struck Haiti on January 12 and leveled the metropolitan capital city of Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas, that city was already a disaster waiting to happen. With a population of more … Continue reading “Beyond the Earthquake: A Wake-Up Call for Haiti”
I have been reading my page proofs for more than a week now. In a few short months my book, From Douglass to Duvalier: US African Americans, Haiti and Pan Americanism, 1870-1964, which examines diplomatic, commercial, cultural relations between the … Continue reading “After/Shock: a Haitian American Historian, the Politics of Aid and Pan Americanism after Haiti's Earthquake”
The human rights community has been sharply split over Haiti since the late 1990s. From one perspective, Haitians’ main problems consisted of civil and political rights violations–brutal tactics used by leaders once beloved by all, corruption in ministries, and the … Continue reading “Partnering for Rights: Rebuilding Haiti after the Earthquake”
Neo-colonialism As some commentators have noted Haiti was devastated before the earthquake, which struck on Tuesday January 12. The present calamity that has befallen Haiti in 2010 forces us think back to the past 200 hundred years of Haitian history. … Continue reading “Haiti: Seismic Shock or Paradigm Shift”
The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York Universityheld a teach-in “Haiti in Context” on Wednesday January 20th to which I was invited to speak. After the panelists presented their perspectives on the current situation, a young Haitian female graduate student who had been there during the earthquake took the mike at the podium. Her account of the event and its immediate aftermath required the audience to be patient. Words crept sluggishly from her mouth as she dissociated frequently between incomplete sentences.