Laurent Dubois on Aeon on the Haitian Revolution and writing Atlantic History: Continue reading
Laurent Dubois on Aeon on the Haitian Revolution and writing Atlantic History: Continue reading
via Harvard U Press:
This website is a work-in-progress by Laurent Dubois, David Garner, and Mary Caton Lingold of Duke University. Our goal is to showcase our research on the history of the banjo in the Afro-Atlantic world, including historical documents, visual materials, material objects, and musical transcription and analysis. We focus particularly on Haiti and Louisiana, but also provide information from other areas along with the transcriptions of a wide range of banjo music.
Writing the history of the banjo, especially of its early formation as an instrument, poses important challenges. We have to return to the period of the 17th through the early 19th century, and to work from fragments to reconstruct what we can about the construction, sound, and social and cultural meaning of the instrument.
In recent years there has been a proliferation of excellent research on the early history of the banjo. For a detailed investigation of some of the West African instruments that inspired the construction of the New World banjo, and an interpretations of the early history of the banjo, you can visit Shlomo Pescoe’s three excellent Facebook pages: Banjo Roots, Banjo Roots: West Africa, and Banjo Roots: World Banjo…
Read the rest. The site breaks banjology into five parts:
Duke University students are writing the “Black Atlantic” online courtesy of a course taught by Ian Baucom and Laurent DuBois.
From the syllabus:
“This seminar, open to advanced undergraduate students and graduate students in all disciplines, explores the history and literature of what has come to be known as “The Black Atlantic.” Our goal will be to think through the histories of slavery and emancipation in this Atlantic world and the way they have shaped our politics and culture. Our reading will range widely, including works of history and theory as well as poetry and novels. But we will also explore how visual art, music, and various types of performance condense, transmit, and examine this history. Students in the class will be invited to participate in the “Digital Black Atlantic Project,” a collaboration between Duke, Columbia, and Harvard, which will be exploring innovative ways to use Digital Media to showcase and present scholarship, literature, and artistic production around the theme of the Black Atlantic.”
Students blog reflections over the course of the semester. Posts to date include:
Read more on the course, explore the site, and find the syllabus here: About « The Black Atlantic.
The July 2012 issue of the William and Mary Quarterly is hosting a special forum on “Jean-Jacques Dessalines and the Haitian Revolution.” The forum includes:
Laurent Dubois, “Dessalines Toro d’Haiti.”
Philippe R. Girard, “Jean-Jacques Dessalines and the Atlantic System: A Reappraisal:”
Revered in Haiti as a founding father committed to his countrymen’s freedom and independence, decried by his white contemporaries as a bloodthirsty brute, Haitian revolutionary Jean-Jacques Dessalines was actually a multifaceted historical figure who borrowed much of his worldview and many of his policies from the colonial plantation system of the Atlantic world. In particular, archival findings in France, Britain, and the United States reveal that Dessalines encouraged France to arrest fellow black revolutionaries, was long ambivalent about advocating independence from France, and maintained close relations with some white Frenchmen even after the 1804 massacres. He conducted extensive diplomatic negotiations with his neighbors in an effort to maintain the trade links inherited from the colonial era, strove to preserve the integrity of the sugar plantations even though he had himself been a slave (probably of Toussaint Louverture’s son-in-law), enforced a strict feudal system among former slaves and tried to import African laborers, and was inspired by a multicultural environment that incorporated American and European as well as African elements. Dessalines was thus a complex character whose conduct was motivated by his economic, political, and diplomatic interests in addition to the racial and ideological factors that tend to dominate the historiography.
The Haitian Declaration of Independence on January 1, 1804, explicitly challenged long-standing systems of European colonialism and slavery in the Caribbean. In the complex diplomatic and economic negotiations between Haiti’s first leader, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and the lieutenant governor of Jamaica, George Nugent, the two sought to answer unprecedented questions in the months before and after Dessalines’s rebel forces defeated the French army. Nugent considered how British officials would regulate trade between British merchants and Haitians but was concerned that Haitian merchants and sailors would spread the spirit of rebellion throughout the New World. Could slavery and universal freedom coexist in the Caribbean without dramatic consequences for the British Empire? The full documentary evidence of how both sides aggressively pursued their objectives during 1803 and 1804 casts a new light on why Atlantic world empires and nations settled on policies of diplomatic isolation for Haiti by the end of the first decade of the nineteenth century. The Haitian Declaration of Independence raised profound questions about revolutionary legitimacy and national sovereignty and drastically expanded the ideals of the age of revolutions.
In “Sources and Interpretations,” Deborah Jenson, “Jean-Jacques Dessalines and the African Character of the Haitian Revolution:”
According to the standard interpretation of mid- to late twentieth-century historiography, Jean-Jacques Dessalines was literally Creole—born in the colony—yet performatively and ideologically African. The vexed narrative of the origins of the first leader of independent Haiti shapes our understanding of the Haitian Revolution as what Laurent Dubois calls “an African revolution,” whose African-born majority is only obliquely reflected in the historiography of revolutionary leadership. Analysis of sources and interpretations reveals that the few individuals from Dessalines’s lifetime who spoke of his background at all described him as African-born. Some accounts traced his origins to the “Gold Coast” (in its eighteenth-century French acceptation), and others alluded to his tribal scarification. Political tensions over Haitian elites and their relationships to the nonelite majority heralded the gradual transition from the African to the Creole narrative of Dessalines’s origins in the middle of the nineteenth century. The possibility that Dessalines was not Creole but African represents a critical link for renewed theorization of how the Middle Passage informed African revolutionary agency in colonial Saint Domingue. The oral traditions of Vodou provide a valuable source of alternative historiography for study of the African character of the Haitian Revolution.
Read the entire issue online through JSTOR Current ($$).
“For some, Haiti is the “poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere,” a “failed state,” long on the brink of collapse. For others, Haiti is a beacon of freedom, evidence of the only successful slave revolt in modern history. This forum brings together scholars from different fields of study, and different parts of the world, for a conversation about ways to think about challenges that Haiti has faced since independence, challenges that have been international in scope since this sovereign nation’s sudden and unexpected debut on the world’s stage. Thus besides considering Haiti’s vexed political history and pressing social problems, we are concerned with the way prevailing forms of diplomatic recognition and patterns of international exchange have served to worsen, rather than improve, social institutions and their capacity to serve the people of Haiti.
The title of this forum — Ayiti kraze — stems from a Kreyol expression that often surfaces in moments when political institutions splinter apart (as when Jean-Bertrand Arisitide was ousted in 1991 during a coup d’état). But, the idea of Haiti in fragments also suits this effort to piece together critical insights concerning this tragic predicament. The catastrophic events of January 12, 2010 have already transformed the way many researchers relate to their work. Scholars who typically take years to develop articles and books have organized symposia and published essays in a matter of days – this forum is but one example. We hope this critical practice will endure long after Haiti is re-built. — Michael Ralph, editor”
“Haiti is an alarming reminder that natural disasters have more devastating consequences where physical infrastructure is weak, where institutions are problematic, and where there is a lot of poverty. So trying to foster development is also a response to disaster. How humanitarian assistance is administered may make it more or less conducive to longer term development, may make a transition from one set of actors (emergency responders) to another (development aid agencies) go more smoothly, may lead to better preparedness for the next time.
The SSRC has asked people we believe are deeply reflective about the situation in Haiti to share their thoughts about the present moment and its relationship to humanitarian assistance and transitions to development. This collection of postings is the result of that effort.”
Find it here: Haiti, Now and Next — Social Science Research Council.
Table of Contents:
Haiti’s Archives in the Balance
Conference featuring Haitian archivist Patrick Tardieu, Haitian historian Jean Casimir, Duke faculty Ian Baucom, Laurent Dubois, Deborah Jenson, and Deborah Jakubs and Digital Library of the Caribbean coordinator, Brooke Wooldridge.
Sponsored by the Duke University Center for French and Francophone Studies.
Date: Monday, February 15, 2010
Location: Perkins Library, Room 217, Duke University
Center for French and Francophone Studies
Duke University, Box 90257
Durham, NC 27708
Email: laurent dot dubois at duke dot edu