Matthew J. Smith onThe Caribbean and the Roots of the Haitian Diaspora

Prof. Matthew J. Smith, the author of the new excellent book on Haiti and Jamaica - Liberty, Fraternity, Exile: Haiti and Jamaica after Emancipation [University of North Carolina Press, 2014/412 pages]– delivers an important lecture on The Caribbean and the Roots of the Haitian Diaspora.

From Toussaint to Price-Mars: Rhetoric, Race, and Religion in Haitian Thought Reviewed by Dr. Tammie Jenkins

Dr. Tammie Jenkins has graciously reviewed my book for “Haiti: Then and Now.” I reproduce the review below.

Joseph, Celucien L. From Toussaint to Price-Mars: Rhetoric,Race, and Religion in Haitian Thought. North Charleston: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 2013. ISBN: 978-1490400952. 372pp.
Reviewed by Tammie Jenkins

From Toussaint to Price-Mars

            In From Toussaint to Price-Mars: Rhetoric, Race, and Religion in Haitian Thought, Joseph explores the Haitian intellectual tradition using works from four noteworthy men as intergenerational discourses embedded in a “rhetoric of freedom” (61) and a “rhetoric of resistance” (69). Joseph examines the contributions of Toussaint Louverture, Antenor Firmin, Jacques Roumain, and Jean Price-Mars, to the development of the Haitian intellectual tradition across time and geography. Maintaining that the Haitian intellectual tradition is not a homogenous construct, but a multiplicitous, intersecting, and divergent set of discourses, Joseph opens From Toussaint to Price-Mars with an introductory section which explains the scope and sequence of the text as well as his thesis and objectives. Using original works, translated texts, and his personal narratives, the author furthers this investigation by articulating the role of race, religion, and identity in discourses of Haitian intellectualism.

Containing seven chapters From Toussaint to Price-Mars has been chronologically subdivided into three parts: Part 1: “The Rhetoric of Race and Freedom,” Part 2: “Engaging the Race Concept and Haitian Afrocentrism,” and Part 3: “Reflections on Religion and Critical Theory.” Featuring an introductory chapter on “Engaging Race, Rhetoric, and Religion,” Joseph provides a synopsis of his previous book Race, Religion, and the Haitian Revolution: Essays on Faith, Freedom, and Decolonization and refers to his present work From Toussaint to Price-Mars, as a sequel to his aforementioned text, the author situates this book as a continuation of his investigation into the role of rhetoric and religion in the development of the Haitian intellectual tradition. Examining the “ideas and writings” (1-2) of four key Haitian intellectuals, Joseph argues that the Haitian intellectual tradition began shortly after the revolution and has continued its evolution into Haiti’s “postcolonial present” (3). The book concludes with an appendix which further describes the Afrocentric underpinnings of Antenor Firmin’s work. In From Toussaint to Price-Mar, Joseph uses data collected from archival and historical records, personal documents, and recorded speeches, to analyze the rhetoric contained in works by Louverture, Firmin, Roumain, and Price-Mars as evidence of a Haitian intellectual tradition. Anchored in “Black Atlantic thought and culture,” (3) each chapter connects the succeeding intellectual’s work to that of a predecessor.

In Part 1: “The Rhetoric of Race and Freedom,” Joseph provides a brief biographical overview of Louverture’s early lived experiences which the author views as a contributing factor to Toussaint’s intellectual development. Reaffirming the place of Toussaint in the development of the Haitian intellectual tradition and its evolution, the author refrains from regurgitating accepted historical accounts associated with Louverture, instead, Joseph describes Louverture as a man of “deep commitment” (9), letters, and ideas, whose texts exceeded European notions of freedom. In From Toussaint to Price-Mars Joseph presents and image of Louverture as a political activist, who used his texts to propagate his rhetoric of freedom and resistance in larger societal conversations. Using excerpts from Louverture’s original 1792 letter, Joseph examines Toussaint’s concept of freedom in a post-Revolutionary Haiti. The author found that Toussaint’s texts contains an orality that moves from the page in ways which enabled him to use his words to interject his ideas into larger societal discourses. The author uses this analysis to (re)situate Louverture, in the literature, as a multi-faceted intellectual leader of the newly created Republic of Haiti, who possessed the ability to use language in ways which enabled him to infiltrate the public sphere.

Part 2: “Engaging the Race Concept and Haitian Afrocentrism,” extends the discourses introduced by Louverture into the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In this section, Joseph examines the Afrocentric underpinnings of Antenor Firmin’s intellectual ideas. Using Firmin’s The Equality of the Races, Joseph examines the ways in which Firmin promoted the reclamation of Egypt as the ancient African civilization of Kemet. Acknowledging that Firmin’s, the progenitor of ethnology, intellectualism challenges white ideas of black inferiority, Joseph maintains that Firmin’s rhetoric of freedom and resistance promoted the rewriting of European history to include the achievement of Africa and its civilizations. The author proposed that Firmin’s ideas are ingrained in the Haitian intellectual tradition through his desire to (re) position “the Haitian intellectual in the tradition of the Black Atlantic vindicationism and the anti-racist narrative in the history of ideas” (92) which Firmin deemed necessary for the development of black racial pride and the reconnection of diasporic blacks with Africa.

In Part 3: “Reflections on Religion and Critical Theory,” moved the Haitian intellectual tradition towards discourses of religion and nationalism, in which works by Jacques Roumain, founder of the Haitian Communist Party, are used by Joseph to position Roumain in the role of public intellectual. Drawing on Roumain’s novel Master of the Dew, Joseph investigates the ways in which Roumain’s text challenges social class hierarchies and economic disparities. Roumain, a member of the Haitian indigenisme, embraced Marxism, a theory expounded by Karl Marx, in his book the Communist Manifesto, as way to unite Haitians. Using Marxism as his conceptual lens, Roumain added a “rhetoric of pain and suffering” (227) to the prevailing discourses of freedom and resistance already present in the Haitian intellectual tradition.

Returning to discourses of religion and nationalism, Price-Mars uses his “religious sensibility” (272) to redefine and articulate his rhetoric of freedom and resistance in the early twentieth century. Addressing discourses of “Haitian identity and the religion of Vodou” (273), Joseph uses Price-Mar’s So Spoke the Uncle, to examine the ways in which hybridity and intertextuality are interwoven in Price-Mars rhetoric of freedom and resistance. The author contends that Price-Mars integrated ideas drawn from Firmin and Rouman into his works to encourage Haitian citizens to embrace their African heritage, their history of enslavement, and to work toward the creation of a national Haitian identity.

From Toussaint to Price-Mars presents an extensive overview of the range in which the Haitian intellectual tradition has contributed to the articulation and dissemination of ideas and thoughts, anchored in conversations of freedom and resistance. In From Toussaint to Price-Mars, Joseph selected text written by four outstanding men whose works serve as representations of the Haitian intellectual tradition. This book stands as one of the first to explore and to situate the influences of Louverture, Firmin, Roumain, and Price-Mars on the development of a Haitian intellectual tradition; however, From Toussaint to Price-Mars overlooks the contribution of women to the establishment of this tradition. Nevertheless, scholars with interests in Haitian History, Rhetorical Studies, Cultural Studies, as well as Black Atlantic and Diasporic Studies may find From Toussaint to Price-Mars a useful primer.

TammieJenkins, Ph.D.

Independent Scholar

Source: Haiti: Then and Now

Symposium on Haitian Creole Language and Culture: “Kreyòl: Lang Transfòmasyon, Lang Liberasyon Ayiti”

Originally posted on Repeating Islands:


Selebrasyon lang kreyòl ak kilti Ayisyen! This is a Symposium on Haitian Creole Language and Culture, hosted by Brooklyn College, to take place on the weekend of October 24-25, 2014 (admission free). Organized around the topic “Kreyòl: Language of Transformation & Liberation of Haiti” [Kreyòl: Lang Transfòmasyon, Lang Liberasyon Ayiti], the symposium will be held at the Brooklyn College Woody Tanger Auditorium, 2900 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.

Speakers include: Fabienne Doucet (New York University), Rozevel Jean-Baptiste (New York City Department of Education), Serge Madhère (Howard University), Jean-Yves Plaisir (Borough of Manhattan Community College-CUNY), Hugues Saint- Fort (Kingsborough Community College-CUNY), and Jean-Yves Urfié (Congregation of the Holy Spirit). Besides the panel presentations, there will be film screenings, a Kreyòl book exhibition, and Arts & Crafts exhibit, cultural performances, and Kreyòl cuisine.

Sponsors are: CUNY Haitian Studies Institute, Brooklyn College President’s Office, NYS R-BERN@NYU, La Fondation Mémoire, HAFECE, Haitian…

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Les crimes de la dictature des Duvalier exposés à Montréal


Les crimes de la dictature des Duvalier exposés à Montréal

Originally posted on Parole En Archipel | Pour le partage du beau et du vrai:

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Les exilés, fils et petits-fils de réfugiés politiques accueillis à Montréal au temps de la dynastie des Duvalier se souviennent de l’atrocité du régime. Des images exposés défilent comme des témoins à charge dans un procès. En salle ou sur les réseaux sociaux, elles rajoutent une couche à Jean-Claude Duvalier, l’ex-dictateur privé de funérailles d’État.

«Haïti durant la période des Duvalier», thème de deux expositions – peintures et photographies – continues des artistes de Réminiscences figuraient déjà dans la programmation du comité organisateur de la 13e édition du mois créole à Montréal avant que Jean-Claude Duvalier se soit éteint. Les images effrayantes s’ouvraient au public de l’événement pluridisciplinaire organisé par le Comité international du Créole et de l’Alphabétisation (KEPKAA, en créole), au lendemain de la nouvelle du décès. La même coïncidence est aussi pour la projection d’un film sur l’ère duvalierienne. Une conférence-débats animée par Frantz Voltaire a suivi la…

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JPAS’ Special Issue on Antenor Firmin Published Online

Check out Journal of Pan African Studies’ special issue ((Volume 7 • Number 2 • 2014) on Antenor Firmin featuring 8 articles is now online. Please inform your colleagues of this historic effort of a man from Haiti almost lost in history. I contributed two articles to this issue:”Homage to Anténor Firmin (1850-1911) Haitian Egyptologis” by Thèophile Obenga translated by Celucien L. Joseph, and “Anténor Firmin, the ‘Egyptian Question,’ and Afrocentric Imagination” by Celucien L. Joseph

● Guest Editor, Acknowledgements and Introduction

● Deconstructing Pseudo-Scientific Anthropology: Anténor Firmin and the Reconceptualization of African Humanity by Gershom Williams

● Undeniable Complacency of Western World Anthropology Scholars in Acknowledging the Equality of the Human Races: Revisiting Anténor Firmin in the New Millennium by Nana Adu-Pipim Boaduo

● Positivism and Progress in Firmin’s Equality of the Human Races
by Camisha Russell

● Race and Geopolitics in the Work of Anténor Firmin
by Asselin Charles

● Still Singing “Kiss My Ass” to a Wagner Melody: Anténor Firmin and the Establishment of Twentieth Century Ethnography by Anthony Kwame Harrison

Homage to Anténor Firmin (1850-1911) Haitian Egyptologist by Thèophile Obenga translated by Celucien L. Joseph

Anténor Firmin, the ‘Egyptian Question’ and Afrocentric Imagination by Celucien L. Joseph

René Depestre et la fable du débarquement armé

Are blacks abandoning Christianity for African faiths?


Interesting piece!

Originally posted on theGrio:

The placement of fallen fragments of coconut helped William Jones decide on whether or not to go to graduate school.

The Yoruba priest that Jones had invited into his Brooklyn apartment had examined the four coconut pieces he had strewn on the floor before telling Jones that it would be OK for him to further his studies.

That was more than a decade ago and today, Jones, 42, is still a practitioner of the Yoruba spiritual tradition. He said that consultations with Yoruba priests leave him with a sense of inner peace.

?I go to see a priest or a ?babalawo? when I need clarity on something,? said Jones, a well-known digital artist.

It?s the customized advice from babalawos (masters and diviners in the Ifa Yoruba tradition) and Yoruba priests (practitioners of the Yoruba spiritual tradition that have undergone the rites of initiation) that attracted Jones to what is believed…

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