The Haiti Exception

BookThe Haiti Exception

The Haiti Exception

Anthropology and the Predicament of Narrative

Francophone Postcolonial Studies, 7


June 1st, 2016

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This collection of essays considers the means and extent of Haiti’s ‘exceptionalization’ – its perception in multiple arenas as definitively unique with respect not only to the countries of the North Atlantic, but also to the rest of the Americas. Painted as repulsive and attractive, abject and resilient, singular and exemplary, Haiti has long been framed discursively by an extraordinary epistemological ambivalence. This nation has served at once as cautionary tale, model for humanitarian aid and development projects and point of origin for general theorising of the so-called Third World. What to make of this dialectic of exemplarity and alterity? How to pull apart this multivalent narrative in order to examine its constituent parts? Conscientiously gesturing to James Clifford’s The Predicament of Culture (1988), the contributors to The Haiti Exception work on the edge of multiple disciplines, notably that of anthropology, to take up these and other such questions from a variety of methodological and disciplinary perspectives, including Africana Studies, Anthrohistory, Art History, Black Studies, Caribbean Studies, education, ethnology, Jewish Studies, Literary Studies, Performance Studies and Urban Studies. As contributors revise and interrogate their respective praxes, they accept the challenge of thinking about the particular stakes of and motivations for their own commitment to Haiti. 


'The Haiti Exception will be of interest to scholars of Haiti, most obviously to anthropologists, but also scholars of literature, performance, art, urban planning, and anyone interested in the interplay between academic research and international aid. Its multidisciplinary approach means, naturally, that not all chapters will be of equal interest to all readers, but the volume as a whole should be relevant to anyone who thinks about how narratives and stereotypes are created, maintained, reinforced, and subverted.'
Laura Wagner, H-France Review

Author Information

Alessandra Benedicty-Kokken is Assistant Professor at the City College of New York and author of Spirit Possession in French, Haitian, and Vodou Thought: An Intellectual History (Lexington Books 2015). Kaiama L. Glover is Associate Professor of French and Africana Studies at Barnard College, Columbia University and author of Haiti Unbound: A Spiralist Challenge to the Postcolonial Canon (Liverpool University Press 2010). Mark Schuller is Associate Professor of Anthropology and NGO Leadership at Northern Illinois University and an affiliate at the Faculté d’Ethnologie, l’Université d’État d’Haïti. He is the author of 'Humanitarian Aftershocks in Haiti' and 'Killing with Kindness' (Rutgers University Press), and co-director/co-producer of Poto Mitan: Haitian Women, Pillars of the Global Economy. Jhon Picard Byron is Professor at the State University of Haiti (UEH), Chair of LADIREP Research Unit and Director of the Department of Anthropology/ Sociology at the Faculté d’Ethnologie.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Editors' Introduction7
I. Tracing Intellectual Histories 19
The Anthropological Uses of Haiti: A Longue Durrée Approach 21
Transforming Ethnology: Understanding the Stakes and Challenges of Price-Mars in the Development39
On ‘being Jewish’, on ‘studying Haiti’ … Herskovits, Métraux, Race and Human Rights58
Haiti, Gender and Anthrohistory: A Mintzian Journey80
II. Interrogating the Enquiring Self 97
‘Written with Love’: Intimacy and Relation in Katherine Dunham’s Island Possessed 99
Dance, Haiti and Lariam Dreams116
‘Haitian Art’ and Primitivism: Effects, Uses and Beyond126
III. On Nation-Building: Histories, Theories, Praxes141
Haiti, Politics and Sovereign (Mis)recognitions143
Haitian Culture in the Informational Economies of Humanitarian Aid162
Urban Poetics183
Epilogue: Kalfou Danje: Situating Haitian Studies and My Own Journey within It199
Notes on Contributors215