I hope today's post makes you smile. Sometimes I feel like I focus too much on the negative in my posts, giving the false impression that nothing good is happening in the world of Haitian culture these days. That is far from the truth.
For example, this past October 16th and 17th, the 4th annual edition of Artisanat en Fête was held. It was a great occasion for a family outing. It’s no secret that Haitian art and craftsmanship is not only beautiful, but usually of high quality, so it was a delight to wander the grounds of the Parc Historique de la Canne à Sucre and behold all the wonderful items on display. There were paintings and clothes, handbags and sculptures, furniture and sandals, jewelry and traditional foods. This year, the Office National de l'Artisanat (ONART) provided a wonderful addition to the festival, with hands-on workshops for the kids in attendance. The children were able to work with clay or make necklaces out of shells and beads, learning the value of Haitian craft and artisans from an early age. The art on display was out of my price range, but I did take pictures and collect business cards in the hopes that I could track down some of the artists when I’m able to afford their work. There seemed to be fewer artisans in attendance than last year and there were some organizational problems. Paying with a credit card was especially tricky. Still, Artisanant en Fête continues to attract patrons and artisans alike and constitutes an amazing showcase of Haitian culture and talent.
To continue with the bon bagay theme: last weekend, I had the pleasure of participating in the Haiti and the Americas conference, organized by Florida Atlantic University. From October 21-23, Rafe Dalleo, Carla Calargé and Clevis Headley brought together a wonderful group of scholars, artists and professionals to reflect upon and discuss the links and relationships that exist between Haiti and the rest of the Americas. Myriam Chancy’s keynote address, "A Marshall Plan for a Haiti at Peace: To Continue or End the Legacy of the Revolution" was especially noteworthy. Chancy examined the notion of aid, how it is distributed and the various motivations behind it. The other keynote speakers were Sibylle Fischer and J. Michael Dash. There were no simultaneous panels, allowing the conversation to flow from one panel to the next. Of course, that made for some very long days, but it also fostered a sense of community that was well worth it. Topics discussed included the rise of Protestantism in Haiti, the Haitian community in Cuba, representations of sex in Haitian literature, the reaction of African Americans to the US refusal to recognize Haitian independance and a reading of Wyclef Jean's candidacy by yours truly. The interdisciplinary perspective was quite stimulating, allowing us to engage the main topic from various angles. Many scholarly and personal connections were made over the course of the three days. I look forward to the published volume that will result from this conference and encourage everyone else to look for it, too.