Archive: An n’ Pale | Café Conversations: featuring Millery Polyné, an NYU professor and historian

On February 25th 2011, our An n’ Pale | Café Conversation featured scholar on Haitian history and culture, Millery Polyné. Polyné is an Assistant Professor of American Studies at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.  A graduate of Morehouse College and the University of Michigan (PhD History), Millery is the author of From Douglass to Duvalier: U.S. African Americans, Haiti and Pan Americanism, 1870-1964 (University Press of Florida, 2010).  A historian by training, Millery’s interests also focus on poetry and film.  He is a 2003 recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Poetry Fellowship and the author of Release: Race, Love, Jazz (2003).  Currently, he is working on two books, A Better Destiny: Human Rights, Caribbean Exiles and Dictatorship during the Cold War and Boston’s Burden: Race and Urban Memory in the Twentieth Century, in addition to a documentary film on François Duvalier titled Papa Doc.

Polyné read excerpts from “To Carry the Dance of the People Beyond” a chapter in his most recently published book, Douglass to Duvalier: U.S. African Americans, Haiti and Pan Americanism, 1870-1964. The discussion that followed delved into the the significance of vaudou in Haitian culture as both a religion and a cultural representation and how it influences Haitian folkloric dance. Our discussion hinged on the understanding of Haitian folkloric dance as a derivative of Haitian vaudou practice ceremonies and incited questions about the effects of the development of Haitian dance as a misrepresentation of authenticity when contrasted with its religious roots.

The discussion was followed by a lively and soulful performance by Obed Jean-Louis and the vibe was decidedly relaxed as Millery, Obed and guests chatted and mingled at the beautiful space provided for us by Renaissance Fine Arts.

 

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