book project

Haiti's Paper War: Post-Independence Writing and the Making of the Republic (1804–1954)

current book manuscript in progress

Haiti’s Paper War reveals the power struggles and strategic silences at stake in the scripted representations of Haiti’s past since 1804. While many scholars situate the Haitian Revolution as the radical instantiation of 1789 enlightenment liberalism in an Atlantic World context, few have considered the immediate aftermath of Haiti’s radical anticolonial gesture within Haiti as the new nation descended into a civil war between the northern monarchy and the southern republic. Through readings of original print sources (pamphlets, newspapers, literary magazines, geographies, histories, poems, and novels—many of them virtually unstudied) obtained through library and archival research in the Caribbean, Europe, and the US, I argue that distinct regional cultural nationalist discourses in Haiti were shaped by the original, foundational tensions in postcolonial Haiti. Haiti’s Paper War theorizes a new approach to Haitian historiography and literary history as one founded on myths and disavowal rather than on comprehensive or “national” memories of the past.  

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digital humanities

Online Index and Lab for the Revue de la Société Haïtienne d’Histoire, de Géographie et de Géologie

The RSHHGG Lab is an interactive online index of over 90 years of the Revue de la Société Haïtienne d’Histoire, de Géographie et de Géologie, the official publication of Haiti’s oldest intellectual society that is still active today. By indexing the contents of the journal, the site aims to increase the impact of this important publication by facilitating the work of scholars of Haiti in the US, Haiti, and beyond. It is our sincere hope that this effort will foster collaboration and new partnerships by connecting scholars of Haiti from all levels and locales.

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Blog post, Age of Revolutions' Race and Revolution series

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articles, chapters,

book reviews

French Cultural Studies for the Twenty-First Century

The Haitian Literary Magazine in Francophone Postcolonial Literary and Cultural Production

This chapter establishes the literary magazine as a crucial source for understanding postcolonial literary and cultural production in Haiti. The form of the literary magazine, the material conditions of its production, and its marginal status in relation to the international literary field, I argue, created a space for the articulation of a decentered cultural nationalist ideology that nevertheless remained engaged with new horizons of world literature beyond Haiti’s borders. The magazine allows us to map Haiti’s evolving attitudes toward the literary and cultural production of the former metropole and toward the emerging global literary field of the early twentieth century.

Comparative Literature

Book Review: Locating the Destitute: Space and Identity in Caribbean Fiction. By Stanka Radović. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2014

The Northern récit paysan: Regional Variations of the Modern Peasant Novel in Haiti

In a revisionist reading of the Haitian peasant novel, this article addresses the short shrift given to Haiti's regionalism in scholarship, a lacuna that social geographer Georges Anglade attributes to ‘les effets d'occultation propre à la structure dominante centralisée’. Contrary to Port-au-Prince-centric renderings of Haitian literary history, which locate the elaboration of the modern peasant novel in the elite (read: Port-au-Princean) intelligentsia's quest for a more authentic national identity, I show that the modern peasant novel emerged in the pages of the northern literary magazine Stella (Cap-Haïtien, 1926–30) out of a primarily regional context. Through a close reading of several short and virtually unstudied récits paysans published in Stella, I argue that northern writers deployed the peasant novel genre as a regional response to the process of centralization and regional ‘occultation’ by the centralized nation-state apparatus. In particular, I examine how the lived experience of dramatic demographic and economic decline in the north informed the specific contours of this new literary expression.

The vocation of the indigènes Cosmopolitanism and cultural nationalism in La Revue indigène

This article recasts the Revue indigène as an important manifestation of Haitian cultural nationalism that is often conflated with subsequent movements that co-opted the review’s heritage in order to legitimize their nationalist projects. My investigation focuses primarily on the contributions of Émile Roumer, the review’s director, who worked to conceptualize a Haitian cultural nationalism based on an early twentieth-century notion of cosmopolitan patriotism. I devote particular attention to Valery Larbaud, the French poet, critic, and translator, who took great interest in the Revue indigène poets, and whose notion of cosmopolitisme was central to the development of Roumer’s cultural nationalist ideas.

“Gérard de Catalogne, passeur transatlantique du maurrassisme entre Haïti et la France”

published in Olivier Dard, ed., Doctrinaires, vulgarisateurs et passeurs des droites radicales au XXe siècle (Europe-Amériques). Bern: Peter Lang, 2012, pp. 233-254.

If the historical study of maurrassisme in the Americas has already been introduced, an inquiry into the particular case of Haiti, a country which occupies a marginal space in the field, still remains to be considered.  This article offers a few starting points by reconstructing the itinerary of a transatlantic passeur between Haiti and France: Gérard de Catalogne.  Presently relegated to a few passing references in the history of the Jeune Droite of the 1930s, his intellectual journey warrants a more in-depth study.  A Frenchman born in Cap-Haitien at the beginning of the 20th century, Catalogne plays an important role in the transatlantic transference of French nationalist thought by establishing himself as a cultural and political intermediary for the Haitian intellectual elite.  Focusing primarily on printed matter, in particular the various newspapers to which Catalogne contributed, this article proposes a coherent and linear account of Catalogne’s intellectual trajectory, from the ranks of the Action française to the heights of the Haitian press. 

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