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Studying Saint-Domingue after the Haitian Aid Crisis

When Sep 03, 2018
from 09:30 AM to 04:30 PM
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The allegations of sexual abuse made against aid workers following the Haitian earthquake of 2011 have scandalised public opinion and prompted debate about the ethics of aid and western intervention in Haiti.

 How should the historian of colonial Haiti respond? How, more specifically, should anglophone European academics position their research of Saint-Domingue in the twenty-first century, given the need for sensitivity around the politics of neo-colonialism, the challenges of socio-linguistic distance, the dispersal of the Haitian archive, and the present push to decolonize academic curricula in the UK?

 This workshop hopes to provide scholars with an opportunity to impact public debate on the legacies of colonialism in the Caribbean, foregrounding the issue of how the history of Haiti has been created by its historians. What has been remembered? What has been recorded? What has been silenced? It is designed to allow aid-workers, activists, policymakers and journalists to better inform academic researchers about the present-day challenges that might affect historical study of early-modern colonial spaces, thereby addressing the assumptions and inherent neo-colonialism that often confront European scholarship on the Caribbean.

Put simply, how can historians engage critically and collaboratively with other cultures and voices while avoiding the silence or insularity that have become the natural responses to guarding against perceived privilege? All these questions have acquired additional urgency in the wake of the Haitian aid scandal.

Event Details

Panel 1 ­– 09:30–11:00 ­– Present: What does Haiti get from its history?

Mario Gousse (UHUK)

  • How has the history of colonial Haiti influenced contemporary perceptions of Haiti today? Is it relevant in contemporary Haiti?


Aida Kaisy (EJN)

  • What are the challenges of covering Haiti? How are sources materials handled?

Paul Clammer (Writer)

  • Can one travel ethically to Haiti? How can writers challenge Haitian stereotypes?

Fernando Ponz (EU)

  • How does the history of Haiti influence how western governmental bodies engage with the country?



Break 1 – 11:00–11:30

Panel 2 – 11:30–13:00 – Past: Who writes the history of Haiti and for whom?

Shodona Kettle (HSG) [S]

  • Who gets to write the history of Haiti? What does access to Haitian history entail?

Julia Prest (Durham) Jack Webb (Manchester)

  • Why is this a research topic for you? Why do European and Anglophone scholars need to tell this history?

Hannah Durkin (Newcastle)

Wendy Asquith (Nottingham)

  • Why is this a research topic for you? Why do European and Anglophone scholars need to tell this history?


Francesco Morriello (Vancouver) [S]

  • Where are the sources for sutyding colonial Haitian history? What role has exceptionalism played in histories of Haiti?



Lunch – 13:00–14:00

Panel 3 – 14:00–15:30 – Future: Do historians needs to write different histories of Haiti?

Pascale Palmer

  • How will recent scandals involving aid organisations alter western involvement/perceptions of Haiti?

Mélanie Lamotte

  • Why do we need to rethink this question now?

Cécile Bushidi

  • How can we engage critically, constructively and collaboratively with non-European scholars to better write colonial histories?



Break 2 – 15:30-16:00

Plenary – 16:00–16:30 – Building a connected & collaborative history of Saint-Domingue