Why Haiti Needs New Narratives A Post quake Chronicle

By Gina Athena Ulysse

  • Genre : History
  • Publisher :
  • ISBN : 819575445
  • Year : 2015
  • Language: French


Why Haiti Needs New Narratives Why Haiti Needs New Narratives A Post-Quake Chronicle Gina Athena Ulysse Foreword by Robin D G Kelley Translated by Nad ve M nard velyne Trouillot Wesleyan University Press Middletown Connecticut Wesleyan University Press Middletown CT 06459 www wesleyan edu wespress 2015 Gina Athena Ulysse foreword 2015 Robin D G Kelley Krey l and French translations 2015 Nad ve M nard and velyne Trouillot All rights reserved Manufactured in the United States of America Designed by Richard Hendel Typeset in Utopia Sentinel and LeHavre by Tseng Information Systems Inc Wesleyan University Press is a member of the Green Press Initiative The paper used in this book meets their minimum requirement for recycled paper Frontis photo Petit-Go ve Haiti 2010 Gina Athena Ulysse Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Ulysse Gina Athena Why Haiti needs new narratives a post-quake chronicle Gina Athena Ulysse foreword by Robin D G Kelley translated by Nad ve M nard and velyne Trouillot pages cm Includes bibliographical references isbn 978-0-8195-7544-9 cloth alk paper isbn 978-0-8195-7545-6 pbk alk paper isbn 978-0-8195-7546-3 ebook 1 Haiti Earthquake Haiti 2010 2 Haiti Social conditions 21st century 3 Haiti Economic conditions 21st century 4 Haiti Politics and government 21st century I Title hv600 h2U48 2015 972 9407 3 dc23 2014048352 5 4 3 2 1 Typographic illustration on front cover by Gina Athena Ulysse and Lucy Guiliano For Francesca Jean-Max Stanley and their peers on both sides of the water who are Haiti s future Tout moun se moun men tout moun pa menm All people are human but all humans are not the same Haitian proverb Volume Contents Why haiti needs neW narratives in English 1 sa k f ayiti bezWen istWa toU n f an krey l 113 PoUrqUoi ha ti a besoin de noUveaUx discoUrs en fran ais 251 Contents Foreword Robin D G Kelley xiii Introduction Negotiating My Haiti s xvii PA RT I R E S P O N DI NG TO T H E CAL L 1 Avatar Voodoo and White Spiritual Redemption 3 2 Amid the Rubble and Ruin Our Duty to Haiti Remains 5 3 Haiti Will Never Be the Same 7 4 Dehumanization and Fracture Trauma at Home and Abroad 9 5 Haiti s Future A Requiem for the Dying 12 6 Not-So-Random Thoughts on Words Art and Creativity 14 7 Sisters of the Cowries Struggles and Haiti s Future 19 8 Tout Moun Se Moun Everyone Must Count in Haiti 22 9 Haiti s Earthquake s Nickname and Some Women s Trauma 24 10 Why Representations of Haiti Matter Now More Than Ever 26 11 Unfinished Business a Proverb and an Uprooting 32 12 Rape a Part of Daily Life for Women in Haitian Relief Camps 34 13 Haiti s Solidarity with Angels 37 14 Haiti s Electionaval 2010 38 15 If I Were President Haiti s Diasporic Draft Part I 41 16 Staging Haiti s Upcoming Selection 42 17 Haiti s Fouled-Up Elections 45 PA RT II R E AS S E S S I NG M Y RE S P O N S E 18 Why I Am Marching for Ayiti Cheri 51 19 Rising from the Dust of Goudougoudou 53 20 The Haiti Story You Won t Read 59 21 When I Wail for Haiti Debriefing Performing a Black Atlantic Nightmare 62 22 Paw l Fanm sou Douz Janvye 67 23 The Legacy of a Haitian Feminist Paulette Poujol Oriol 72 24 Click Doing the Dishes and My Rock n Roll Dreams 75 25 Constant Haiti s Fiercest Flag Bearer 77 26 Haitian Feminist Yolette Jeanty Honored with Other Global Women s Activists 79 27 Why Context Matters Journalists and Haiti 81 PA RT I I I A S P I RI T UAL I M P E RAT I VE 28 Fractured Temples Vodou Two Years after Haiti s Earthquake 89 29 Defending Vodou in Haiti 92 30 Loving Haiti beyond the Mystique 94 Coda A Plea Is Not a Mantra 95 Acknowledgments 99 Notes 103 Bibliography 105 xiii Foreword Robin D G Kelley We say dignity survival endurance consolidation They say cheap labor strategic location intervention We say justice education food clothing shelter They say indigenous predatory death squads to the rescue Jayne Cortez Haiti 2004 The longer that Haiti appears weird the easier it is to forget that it represents the longest neocolonial experiment in the history of the West Michel-Rolph Trouillot The Odd and the Ordinary Haiti the Caribbean and the World In my circles there are two Haitis There is Haiti the victim the broken nation the failed state the human tragedy the basket case Depending on one s political perspective Haiti the victim was either undermined by its own immutable backwardness or destroyed by imperial invasion occupation blockades debt slavery and U S -backed puppet regimes The other Haiti of course is the Haiti of revolution of Toussaint Dessalines the declaration at Camp Turel of C L R James s magisterial The Black Jacobins This is the Haiti that led the only successful slave revolt in the modern world the Haiti that showed France and all other incipient bourgeois democracies the meaning of liberty the Haiti whose African armies defeated every major European power that tried to restore her ancien r gime the Haiti that inspired revolutions for freedom and independence throughout the Western Hemisphere Rarely do these two Haitis share the same sentence except when illustrating the depths to which the nation has descended Gina Athena Ulysse has been battling this bifurcated image of Haiti ever since I first met her at the University of Michigan some two decades ago where she was pursuing a PhD in anthropology focusing on female international traders in Jamaica Then as now she was an outspoken passionate militant student whose love for Haiti and exasperation over the country s representation found expression in everything else she did She had good reason to be upset Both narratives treat Haiti as a symbol a metaphor rather than see Haitians as subjects and agents as complex xiv f o r e W o r d human beings with desires imaginations fears frustrations and ideas about justice democracy family community the land and what it means to live a good life Sadly impassioned appeals for new narratives of Haiti do not begin with Ulysse She knows this all too well Exactly 130 years ago the great Haitian intellectual Louis-Joseph Janvier published his biting critical history Haiti and Its Visitors a six-hundred-page brilliant rant against all those who have misrepresented Haiti as a backwater of savagery incompetence and inferiority With passion elegance grace and wit matching Janvier s best prose Ulysse s post-quake dispatches and meditations about her beloved homeland demolish the stories told and retold by modern-day visitors the press the leaders of nGos the pundits the experts Of course it is easy to see how the devastation left by the earthquake would reinforce the image of Haiti-as-victim but representations are not objective truths but choices framed and edited by ideology Poor refugees sitting around in tent cities a sole police officer trying to keep order complaints over the delivery of basic foodstuffs and water this is what cnn and Time magazine go for not the stories of neighborhoods organizing themselves burying the dead making sure children are safe and fed removing rubble building makeshift housing sharing whatever they had and trying against the greatest of odds to establish some semblance of local democracy Ulysse is less interested in correcting these representations than interrogating them revealing the kind of work they do in reproducing both the myth of Haiti and the actual conditions on the ground Now The sense of urgency that pervades her essays is palpable As she does in her performances Ulysse rings the alarm fills the room in our head with deafening sound a one-woman aftershock We need this because the succession of crises confronting Haiti throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries inured too many people to the unbearable loss of life some three hundred thousand souls perished in the earthquake on January 12 2010 Here in the United States when ten fifteen twenty die in a disaster the twenty-four-hour news cycle kicks into high gear But in Haiti these things happen Ulysse wants to know how we arrived at this point when Haiti is treated much like the random bodies of homeless people whose deaths we ve come to expect but not to mourn The problem is not one of hatred for who among us sincerely hates the homeless It is indifference As the late actor poet Beah Richards often said f o r e W o r d xv The opposite of love is not hate but indifference Indifference produces silence Indifference ignores history Indifference kills Like many Haitians she understands that the two Haitis do not represent polar opposites or a linear story of descent Rather they are mutually constitutive perhaps even codependent The condition of Haiti is a product of two centuries of retaliation for having the temerity to destroy slavery by violent revolution for taking the global sugar economy s most precious jewel from the planters traders bankers and imperial rulers and for surviving as an example for other enslaved people The war did not end when Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared Haitian independence on January 1 1804 Remember that the war left the country s agricultural economy in shambles its sugar-processing machinery had been destroyed along with its complicated irrigation system And even if the people wanted to return to growing cane for export the Western powers established naval blockades and refused to trade with the new nation in a failed effort to choke the life out of the revolution Unable to reimpose chattel slavery they turned to debt slavery In 1825 the French forced Haiti to pay 150 million francs as reparations for the loss of property in slaves and land No Haitian families were compensated for being kidnapped forced to work for low wages wrongful death or injury etc Although the French magnanimously reduced the principal to 90 million francs thirteen years later the indemnity nevertheless cleaned out the Haitian treasury and forced the country into debt to French banks The banks profited from the debt and quite literally held the mortgage on Haiti s future Indeed the payment to France and French banks amounted to half of Haiti s government budget by 1898 sixteen years later on the eve of the U S occupation of Haiti the debt payments absorbed 80 percent of the government s budget By some measures what Haiti eventually paid back amounted to some 21 billion in 2004 dollars A life of debt and dependency on a global market was not the political or economic vision the Haitian people had in mind They owed the West and their former enslavers nothing The land belonged to them and the point of the land was to feed and sustain the people They grew food raised livestock and promoted a local market economy Yet the rulers of every warring faction insisted on growing for export even if it meant denying or limiting the liberty of these liberated people In order to realize their vision Haiti s rulers required a costly standing military to pre- xvi f o r e W o r d serve the nation s sovereignty preserve their own political power and class rule and maintain a capitalist export economy Crush a nation s economy hold it in solitary confinement and fuel internecine violence and what do we get And yet Ulysse refuses to accept the outcome of the two-hundred-year war on Haiti as a fait accompli Calling for new narratives is not merely an appeal to rewrite history books or to interview the voiceless but to write a new future to make a new Haitian Revolution As her essays make crystal clear it is not enough to transform the state or dismantle the military or forgive the debt She writes eloquently about the women their resilience as well as their unfathomable subordination under regimes of sexual violence and patriarchy She calls for cultural revolution for the need to create space for expressions of revolutionary desire to resist misery to imagine what real sovereignty and liberty might feel like And yet it would be unfair and premature to call this text a manifesto She is too humbled by the daunting realities and the trauma of the earthquake its aftershocks and the two centuries of history in its wake to make any bold proclamations about Haiti s future This text is also about one woman s journey a woman of the diaspora who frees herself from exile negotiating what it means to be a scholar in a world where universities and corporations have become cozy bedfellows a woman wrestling with a society in which adulthood is reserved for men only an activist straddling the arts and sciences in a world where arts and sciences usually only meet on a university letterhead Gina Athena Ulysse like her homeland simply doesn t fit She refuses to fit And this is exactly why we need new narratives We say Haitian water violated Haitian airspace penetrated They say kiss my aluminum baseball bat Suck my imperial pacifier and lick my rifle butt We say cancel the debt They say let the celebration for 200 more years of servitude begin We say viva the Haitian revolution Viva democracy viva independence viva resistance viva Unity Jayne Cortez xvii Introduction Negotiating My Haiti s A taste for truth does not eliminate bias Albert Camus It has become stylish for foreign writers to denounce Haiti s bad press while contributing to it in fact Michel-Rolph Trouillot Many years ago when I was a graduate student a Haitian professional also living in the United States reproached me for identifying as HaitianAmerican In the extremely intense debate that ensued I found myself staunchly defending the embrace of the hyphen with full knowledge that because of history my two joined worlds have not been and would never be equal I strongly believed my identity was not reducible to its point of origin What I did know then and I am even surer of now was that Haiti was my point of departure not my point of arrival 1 At the time a moment best characterized by what writer Edwidge Danticat refers to as the post-Wyclef era 2 the consequences of identifying as Haitian in some circles for example the academy where I have spent a lot of time were less hostile or I should say had their particular version of hostility Regardless the reason I insisted on my Americanness was not shame as this person presupposed and even verbalized but a rather simple mathematical equation 3 If I counted the number of years I resided in my pays natal and the number of years spent outside it and in Haitian circles they would add up to over nineteen I lived in Haiti for eleven years Moreover because of several accumulated years of extensive fieldwork in Jamaica coupled with other travels and so many different experiences I was aghast at being boxed in personally as well as with notions of essentialism socially The Haiti in the Diaspora My Haitianness if you will was never questionable to me because I had spent years critically investigating issues of identity as both social and personal phenomena The social analysis confirmed the individual examination leading me to realize and make peace with the fact that I xviii i n t r o d U c t i o n would always be part of two Haitis There was the one that due to migration was being re-created in the diaspora and the one in the public sphere that continually clashed with the one in my memory Or perhaps there were three Haitis In any case the Haiti I left behind was one that was changing in my absence while the one I lived in as a member of its diaspora had elements of stasis as it was couched in nostalgia Hence I live with a keen awareness that negotiating my Haitis inevitably means accepting that there are limits to my understanding given the complexity of my position as both insider and outsider Finally because the Haiti of my family and the socioeconomic world I grew up in encompassed such a continuum of class and color and urban and rural referents Haiti and Haitians historically have always been plural to me These contemplations not only have concrete effects on my relationship with Haiti but also the role I play as a Haitian-American determined to be of service to her birth country somehow That said this book in a sense is the result of a promise made long ago at the tender age of eleven when I came to live in the United States Upon first encountering the Haiti that exists in the public sphere I had just enough consciousness to vow that I would never return to Haiti until things changed Of course I eventually changed my mind This decision to go back which I have written about ad infinitum reveals as much about my personal journey as it does my professional one With more time the two would intertwine in curious ways never to be separated as I embraced yet another set of hyphens this time as artistacademic-activist These identities would become increasingly distinct especially as I transitioned from relying less on the social sciences and more on the arts Moreover irrespective of my chosen medium I was already out there as a politically active and vocal member of Haiti s tenth department 4 Out There in the Public Sphere I often say I did not set out to do public anthropology 5 but that s not exactly true It s also not a lie The fact is I decided to seek a doctoral degree in anthropology for a singular reason Haiti I became progressively frustrated with simplistic explanations of this place that I knew as complex I became determined to increase and complicate my own knowledge of Haiti always with the hope of eventually sharing what I learned with others i n t r o d U c t i o n xix My plans did not immediately work out as intended I ended up doing my dissertation research on female independent international traders in Kingston Jamaica Yet once I began to teach I regularly offered a seminar that sought to demystify the Haiti in popular imagination and to help students envision a more realistic one Besides that course for many years my anthropological engagement with Haiti was off the grid of my chosen professional track It was the subject of my artistic pursuits poetry and performance and the focus of occasional reflexive papers I presented at conferences That changed drastically one day in January 2010 My transformation was punctuated by the fact that one month before that afternoon I did the unthinkable I set out on a trip to Haiti for the first time without informing my family As an artist and a self-identified feminist made in the Haitian diaspora I was curious about the impact of migration I experienced it as a rupture and I continuously wondered about my personal and professional development whom I might have become had I remained in Haiti The plan was to go there and see if it was possible for me to have a relationship with Haiti that was entirely mine Where exactly would I fit Three weeks after I returned circumstances would not only force me to rethink that question but thrust me into the public sphere in the shadow and footsteps of other engaged anthropologists who resisted the urge to remain in the ivory tower As fate would have it I had already taken calculated steps to get there Write to Change the World That s the tagline of the one-day seminar I attended in October 2009 at Simmons College in Boston Among other things the Op-Ed Project sought to empower women with the tools and skills needed to enter the public sphere as writers of opinion pieces The premise was to engage the fact that upper-class white men submit more than 80 percent of all published op-eds The project worked to change these statistics by showing women especially how to write and pitch to editors I remember pondering the reality of the remaining 20 percent inevitably white women and a few minorities As a black Haitian woman I wasn t even a decimal point I had briefly dabbled in this medium before In 1999 fresh out of graduate school I wrote Classing the Dyas Can the Dialogue Be Fruitful a piece about returning to Haiti from the diaspora and the brewing tensions with those who live at home It was published in the Haitian Times

Author Gina Athena Ulysse Isbn 0819575445 File size 7 MB Year 2015 Pages 404 Language French File format PDF Category History Mainstream news coverage of the catastrophic earthquake of January 12 2010 reproduced longstanding narratives of Haiti and stereotypes of Haitians Cognizant that this Haiti as it exists in the public sphere is a rhetorically and graphically incarcerated one the feminist anthropologist and performance artist Gina Athena Ulysse embarked on a writing spree that laste