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Reinterpreting the Haitian Revolution and Its Cultural Aftershocks

Haiti, its revolution and its culture remain largely unknown or misunderstood in the English-speaking world. This collection of essays seeks to both elucidate aspects of Haitian history and culture and provoke interest in readers and scholars for further research in these fields. Several general guiding questions connect the essays: What were, what are the cultural repercussions of Haiti's revolution, in Haiti and elsewhere? What is the truth of Haiti, its history, its intellectual traditions, its culture? What role has culture played in shaping Haiti's history, and conversely, how has Haiti's history determined, inspired, liberated and restricted Haitian culture and thought? In a land that has constantly relived its past, how can we imagine a Haitian future? Can we rethink history and memory? Can an understanding of post-independence culture and thought point tentatively to a way out of the traps of the past, without effecting a counterproductive forgetting of the revolution? Framed by two essays by Rene Depestre, the chapters offer diverse approaches to these questions: the history of Haitian revolutionary universalism; the idea of the Caribbean's historical lack and its application to Haiti; the relationship between personal and political revolutions in Yanick Lahens's fiction; the attempt to write personal history in Edwidge Danticat's work; the role of Haiti and the revolution in forming ideas of "race"; the importance of the nineteenth-century Haitian intellectual Antenor Firmin in the development of the discipline of anthropology; the influence of St. Domingue refugees in the genesis of New Orleans jazz; the prevalence of the "Haytian Fear" narrative in nineteenth-century Trinidad; and the many and diverse post-independence representations of Toussaint Louverture. This book will be of interest to students and readers of Haitian literature, history and culture, as well as those interested in broader Caribbean studies, postcolonial studies and African-American studies.
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About the Author

Martin Munro is Associate Professor of French and Francophone Literature at Florida State University. He is the author of Shaping and Reshaping the Caribbean: The Work of Aime Cesaire and Rene Depestre (2000) and Exile and Post-1946 Haitian Literature: Alexis, Depestre, Ollivier, Laferriere, Danticat (2007). He is a member of the Small Axe editorial collective, and is currently working on rhythm in New World cultures. Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw is Lecturer of Francophone Caribbean Literature and Nineteenth-century French Poetry at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago. She is the author of articles on the Caribbean cultural landscape as presented in the works of Gisele Pineau, Yanick Lahens, Edwidge Danticat and Marie Chauvet. Her first collection of short stories, Four Taxis Facing North, was published in 2007.

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