vendredi 7 mars 2014

Luminous Research

It has been a while since our last post here on Tande. I hope 2014 is off to a great start for all of our readers. Thanks for checking in from time to time. We do try to keep the Calendar and Announcements pages updated, even when we're unable to post on the main page. You can thank two of our regular readers, Marc Ruben Claude (a former student of mine at ENS) and Chris Celius of Rapadoo for nudging me to post something today.

Chris asked about another carnival post, but I never really got into carnival mode this year, although I did enjoy several of the songs. It turns out that decentralizing carnival really means centralizing it in a city other than Port-au-Prince every year, with the bands not chosen to participate in the national parade unable to perform in the capital during the three days of carnival. So, we get the days off, but not the party to go with it. Unless you count the carnival festivities held before the three official Fat days. The mayor of Delmas, where I live, announced on the morning of Friday, February 21st that all schools had to close at noon so that he could hold his carnival parade. I won't even attempt to describe the madness of parents scrambling to pick up kids who had been scheduled to be released later that afternoon. Nor will I attempt to describe the incredible traffic caused by this parade. As in previous years, certain groups were banned from performing their songs live altogether, even when they were able to secure private sponsors. So, all in all, I've resigned myself to a carnival hiatus for a few years.

What I have been focusing on is research. And, let me say in passing that it would be fantastic to see more research on carnival. There's been talk about establishing a carnival museum to preserve the art created each year, but I would also love to see in-depth research on Haitian carnival: the music, the politics, the economics, the history. This research is sorely needed since there seems to be some confusion as to what the purpose of carnival is.Or at least what we want or need it to be.

I've read several articles recently about the necessity or applicability of humanities scholarship to the "real world". Newspapers, magazines and blogs debate whether or not the huanities are necessary, whether or not they matter. (I'm not including any links here because there are too many to choose from!) I have to say I've never really considered that question as a researcher. It just seems obvious to me that the ways in which we represent ourselves, our history, our culture has a concrete impact on our concrete lives and the society we live in.

I recently participated in the launch of Haiti: An Island Luminous, brainchild of Adam Silvia. I have loved the Digital Library of the Caribbean for a long time. It is a godsend for those of us scholars without regular access to research libraries. An Island Luminous is a curated online exhibit that helps put the myriad of texts to be found on dloc into context. I provided an entry on occupied novels. Over one hundred scholars from around the world participated in this remarkable project.

And to continue with the topic of collaborative research -- The Haiti Reader is still an ongoing project. I need to move it into the foreground this semester now that the special issue of Journal of Haitian Studies dedicated to Rolph Trouillot that I was guest editing is more or less done. While I do think web materials are wonderful for all sorts of reasons, I have a special love in my heart for paper books. And I do think this book, the Reader, will serve a purpose, for scholars and everyday readers alike. All of us who are dedicated to Haiti and its culture complain, and rightfully so!, when that culture is maligned or falsely portrayed. But we need to be able to have reliable sources to provide as alternatives. I think The Haiti Reader will be one of those sources for many people.

Although I value collaborative research efforts, I am also happy to see the increased emergence of individual research projects in Haiti. So many outstanding Haitian researchers have never published book-length works or only a handful of articles. While I absolutely do not condone the blind adoption of foreign professional practices – no desire to see publish or perish implemented here, thank you very much! -- I am concerned about legacy and heritage. While our oral scholarship tradition is alive and well, that scholarship needs to be preserved. How will future generations access the ideas developed by their elders otherwise? There needs to be sustained support for research at the university level. We are not there yet, but hopefully we'll get there eventually. I would love to see a research library developed here. Until there is, websites like dloc help fill the gaps. And I just discovered this one that some of you might already be familiar with.

This is all to say when we're not posting here on Tande, you can bet we are busy with our research or presenting its results.  Régine's book Conflict Bodies: The Politics of Rape Representation in The Francophone Imaginary is currently available for pre-order. I have articles forthcoming in Demanbre and Small Axe this year, as well as the actes de colloque from last year's conference dedicated to Georges Castera. This is all in addition to the various speaking engagements we both have, although one of us is currently on maternity leave!

Now that carnival is over, I leave you with this poem by Jacques Roumain which served as the inspiration for the title of Haiti: An Island Luminous.


3 commentaires:

  1. Wow. I learned a lot from this post. I already knew about the current Haitian government's impositions on bands and free speech, but was unaware of the "gas" incident involving Brother's Posse and the issues concerning activities in Delmas.

    I absolutely agree with you about them completely centralizing the festivities outside of PauP with no balance. When kanaval used to be held in PaP, the provinces still held their own festivities during those days on a smaller scale but it seems PaP is now left completely kanaval-free durign the "3 jours gras".

    My favorite part of this post though is the links you provided. So much great info and I've been looking forward to getting my hands on Regine's book. So proud of the work you're both doing and look forward to reading more on Tande this year. Sha

  2. Thanks for all your support, Sha!
    There was an ad in the paper a couple of weeks ago in which the mayor of Delmas thanked everyone for participating in the carnival, apologized for any inconvenience and reminded us that he's always most concerned with what will be beneficial to the majority. So, I guess schools and hospitals only concern a minority?

  3. Also, meant to say, glad you enjoyed the links. Sometimes they're such a pain to manage that I wonder if it's worth it. So I'm glad to see readers find them useful!