jeudi 29 avril 2010

Kilè Inivèsite Leta a ap louvri? Ki Inivèsite Leta l ap ye ?

Depi ane 2000, m ap fè kou literati nan Lekòl Nòmal Siperyè ki fè pati Inivèsite dEta dAyiti. Nan tan sa a, fakilte a tankou inivèsite a viv plizyè kriz. Men okenn nan kriz sa yo pa rive boulvèse l jan tranblemantè 12 janvye a fè l. Etidyan, pwofesè, dwayen, administratè ak lòt pèsonèl mouri. Gen anpil moun blese ak anpil destriksyon. Pifò fakilte yo pa ka sèvi ankò.

Epoutan nanm inivèsite a la toujou. Pifò dwayen yo la, pifò pwofesè yo la, pifò etidyan yo la toujou. Nou tout ap tann. Kijan inivèsite a ka vanse aprè gwo katastròf sa a ?
Plizyè pwofesè Lekòl Nòmal pare pou yo reprann kou oubyen patisipe nan rankont travay avèk etidyan yo depi lontan. Malerezman, yo pa jwenn kote pou yo rankontre ak etidyan yo. Lokal kote Lekòl Nòmal te ye a pa t pou li.
Pou plizyè inivèsite jodi a, pi gwo pwoblèm lan se jwenn lokal pou divès fakilte yo ka rekòmanse fonksyone. Onivo Inivèsite Leta a, gen yon pawòl Damyen k ap pale depi kèk tan. Kòmkwa tout fakilte Inivèsite a ta transfere nan espas Fakilte Agronomi a. Transfè sa a pa ka fèt si pa gen yon refòm total kapital ki fèt nan jan Inivèsite Leta a fonksyone. Majorite pwofesè nan inivèsite a travay lòt kote. Se kèk lè sèlman nan semenn lan yo fè kou. Kidonk distans y ap fè pou y al fè kou a pa ka twò long. Anpil nan etidyan yo oblije travay pou yo viv, souvan fè kou nan lekòl segondè ki nan anviwon Pòtoprens. Kidonk l ap difisil pou y al suiv kou Damyen.
Pandan Rektora a ap chèchè rezoud pwoblèm lokal la, se ta moman pou l panche tou sou fonksyonnman inivèsite a. Poukisa pa gen plis pwofesè ki gen inivèsite a kòm travay prensipal yo ? Aprè sa k pase 12 janvye a, peyi a pral bezwen anpil ekspè nan plizyè domenn. Pandan anpil moun ap kritike sitiyasyon kote se etranje k ap jwe wòl ekspè, inivèsite a pa nan pozisyon pou li fòme ekspè lokal si pa gen posibilite pou moun fè rechèch. Si pa gen yon bon bibliyotèk inivèsitè.
Fòk inivèsite ayisyen ta jwe yon wòl santral nan rekonstriksyon peyi a. Pou kounyè a, gen anpil bèl pawòl k ap pale sou inivèsite a, anpil reyinyon k ap fèt adwat agòch, men poko gen anyen konkrè ki fèt. Gen inivèsite prive ki deja reprann ak mwayen pa yo. Konsa tou, genyen ki poko menm debleye.
Pandan anpil moun ap di se pa yon bon lide pou tout etidyan ayisyen pati al fini etid yo nan lòt peyi, pandan anpil moun ap kritike fenomèn sa a, fòk nou klè sou sa n ap ofri etidyan yo. Si nou mande yo rete, fòk nou kapab di yo yon pawòl ki kenbe.
Kisa n ap atann de Inivèsite Leta a ? Tankou anpil lòt enstitisyon nan peyi a, se ta moman pou Inivèsite Leta a pwofite refè tèt li, pou li parèt yon lòt jan, pi djanm pase jan l te ye anvan an. Pou sa fòk ta gen yon pwojè ki etabli nan mitan kominote inivèsite a, ki t ap pèmèt tou li vin pi adapte pou sa sosyete a bezwen jodi a.
Li lè pou gen yon refleksyon serye ki fèt sou inivèsite a, pou li sispann jere kriz ak ijans sèlman, menm jan anpil lòt enstitisyon fè.
Pou kounyè a, dat ouvèti Inivèsite Leta a poko janm fikse vre. Premye pawòl ki te di, se te avril, apre sa 3 me, kounyè a se 17 me. Anpil moun ap tann ak enpasyans.

lundi 19 avril 2010

Teaching Beyond A Single Story

I recently showed Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s presentation, “The Danger of A Single Story” while teaching for an advanced Black Studies class on “Theorizing the African Diaspora.” Listening to Adichie’s frustrations regarding the limitations imposed upon novelists to proffer “authentic narratives” that belie the complexity of daily realities, I was struck by the usefulness of what she was saying for teaching about Haitian literature and culture. Adichie captured what have been some of my own challenges of presenting Caribbean and African texts in the US classroom.

Take, for example a recent oral presentation on
Marie-Célie Agnant’s La dot de Sara (1995), for which the students circulated a handout containing two pictures. On the right: a gleaming shot of the Montreal skyline replete with beautiful skyscrapers and lavish buildings. On the left: a picture of an unnamed Haitian village, dirt ground dampened by flood water, naked child with a bewildered look in her eye, and thatched roof hut. The juxtaposition evoked the binaries I had hoped my students would interrogate: modern/ ancient, rich/ poor, developed/ undeveloped to name but a few. On its own the presentation was quite good, a thorough exploration of mother/daughter relationships and the challenges of immigrant life for the novel’s main character. Yet it was marred by this picture; with a single image the idea of the single Haitian story of poverty rose to the top.

The picture suggested to me that perhaps despite my lecturing about vigilance regarding how popular images and stereotypes inform our perceptions of the country, the dangerous single story had snuck into the classroom. Whether facile descriptions such as the ubiquitous phrase (which I refuse to reproduce here!) that has come to be shorthand for Haiti, or the notion of boatpeople constantly streaming onto USA shores, reductive images imbue our understanding of Haiti with fatality. Perhaps my students were only half listening to Haitian historian and Haitian Studies’ Association co-founder Marc Prou’s powerful lecture about the richness of Haitian cultural and historical contributions, and the imperative distinction between “being impoverished” and “being poor.” He delivered these words to the Boston College community during an event to help contextualize the crisis in Haiti as a result of the earthquake in January. Perhaps I had failed my students by leading this section on Haitian literature with the Agnant book rather than putting Kettly Mars’ Fado (2008), first, a book set in the urban landscape un-preoccupied by the discussions of poverty that Agnant pursues. Perhaps the dominant image, especially apparent since the earthquake, was just too powerful to overcome by teaching a few novels.

Then another student, a first year student who had left Haiti only four years ago, raised her hand inquisitively. Her words were simple: “Pourquoi ces deux photos?” Why these two particular photos? The presenter explained her desire to concretize the “ici et là-bas” described in the book. She then went on to mention that she had just done a search for “Haitian village” and that the picture looked much better in color. But the question lingered. The first year student said that the problem with the photos was that it made it look as though on the one hand Montreal was beautiful whereas Haiti was not. This was certainly not the Haiti that this student was familiar with. She had access to other stories about Haiti that revealed complexity, nuance and beauty. She could challenge the single story her classmate proffered because she knew it was not the only one. I seized upon the students’ exchange as a “teachable moment” for explaining again how in the case of Haiti and many of the other Caribbean and African nations we studied in this class, for the U.S. audience, there is an undeniable dominant narrative that we must position these writers against, and that their works should help us to deconstruct it. I concluded by saying that if the image of Haiti that they are left with at the end of the semester is the one in the picture, then the purpose of the course and my teaching is in vain.

Since the earthquake, many colleges and universities across the United States’ have sponsored “teach-ins” about Haiti in order to promote awareness, educate and to counteract and make sense of all the reporting that was coming out of Haiti during the first months of this year. These events have featured Haitian academics, experts on Haiti, artists and poets using their voices to provide a deeper and more informed understanding about Haitian history and culture that includes critical analysis as well as celebratory pride. The purpose is to offer some background, some context and some alternatives in the face of a single story.

I am reminded of the elation I felt at the end of last year after learning that Edwidge Danticat has won the MacArthur prize in the same week that Guerline Dieu Damas and her five children were killed in Florida, the victims of domestic violence. That week I wrote a piece about the “highs and lows” of the Haitian diaspora, noting Danticat’s words in an interview that, “in these past twenty plus years, I have seen some movement in the complexity of our narratives.” As a teacher I attempt to render the complexity of these narratives by teaching different types of texts, teaching poems from Brassage: Yon Rekeil Poem Fanm Ayisien/ An Anthology of Poems by Haitian Women or by Félix Morriseau-Leroy alongside films by Arnold Antonin, and historic texts to provide a broader context. Yet, there are days when I wonder what more can be done to get beyond the single story.


mardi 6 avril 2010

Les premiers mots

Après des mois d’hésitation et de conversations, après des douzaines d’échanges de mails et de discussions autour du titre, aujourd’hui, finalement, on se lance. L’idée de ce blog vient du fait que moi je cherchais un endroit où me mettre au courant des dernières interventions sur la littérature et la culture haïtiennes. Régine avait un texte qu’elle ne savait où placer. Je lui ai suggéré de créer un blog, comme ça, elle pourrait y mettre son texte, et moi je pourrai avoir un endroit où aller lire des trucs sur la culture haïtienne de temps en temps. Finalement, elle a dit oui… si j’acceptais d’écrire le blog avec elle. On s’est dit qu’à deux, sûrement on arriverait à trouver le temps d’y contribuer régulièrement, et voilà, l’idée de ce blog est née.

Seulement tout ça s’est passé en 2009, donc avant le 12 janvier 2010. Après cette date fatidique, Régine et moi nous demandions si c’était toujours une bonne idée de lancer ce blog ? Si oui, est-ce qu’il fallait en modifier le contenu ? Après une très longue conversation téléphonique, on est arrivé à la réponse suivante : oui… et non. On ne peut pas faire comme si le séisme n’a pas eu lieu et continuer à parler culture comme si tout allait bien. Mais en même temps, le séisme n’a pas changé qui nous sommes et ce que nous savons faire. Nous ne sommes pas expertes en séismologie ni en aide internationale ni en reconstruction. Donc, nous avons décidé de continuer de parler littérature et culture tout en tenant compte du nouveau contexte haïtien. Ce qu’on avait toujours eu l’intention de faire.

Je suis Nadève Ménard, professeur de littérature de mon état. J’habite Delmas, Haïti. Oui, j’étais en Haïti le 12 janvier 2010. Heureusement, je suis saine et sauve, ainsi que ma famille et ma maison. Malheureusement, l’École Normale Supérieure de l’Université d’État d’Haïti où j’enseigne depuis 2000 a été fortement endommagé et il y a eu des pertes en vie humaine. Régine Michelle Jean-Charles est professeur à Boston College. Ses parents vivent actuellement à Musseau, et toute sa famille aussi va bien. Donc, tout en aidant dans la mesure de notre possible ceux qui ne vont pas bien, nous voulons contribuer à la réflexion sur la culture haïtienne, sur les études haïtiennes et sur la littérature, tout en évoquant d’autres centres d’intérêt.

Ce blog sera trilingue pour mieux refléter nos parlers, ainsi que les langues haïtiennes et les langues dans lesquelles se font les études haïtiennes aujourd’hui. Nous allons aussi inviter de temps à autre des contributeurs pour enrichir la conversation et pour renforcer les liens entre les divers participants dans la discussion sur les littérature et culture haïtiennes, où qu’ils se trouvent.

C’est notre premier blog, donc nous vous demandons un peu de patience tandis que nous cherchons notre chemin pour faire entendre notre parole, tout en étant à l’écoute de celle des autres.