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.
Reviews'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