May 1: Haitian Studies Association 2013 Call For Papers – 25th Silver Anniversary. Representations, Revisions, Responsibilities: Towards New Narratives for Haiti in 2013 and Beyond

The deadline for proposals is May 1st, 2013. The Conference will be held in Haiti on November 7th—9th, 2013.


Haiti is often cast by outsiders as a mysterious nation that is exotic, uncivilized, and inherently dangerous. Such misrepresentations are by no means a vestige of the past; rather, they resonate with ongoing depictions of Haiti as either positively or negatively “unique.” Whether Haiti is celebrated as the Western Hemisphere’s “first black sovereign republic” or pitied as its “poorest nation,” the allure of such portrayals compels us to evaluate the impact of persistent stereotypes, to reexamine the stories we continue to tell about Haiti, and to analyze the role of Haitian Studies post-earthquake, as we move beyond the silver anniversary of the association’s founding. While global media often construct Haitians as “heroic” or “resilient” in the face of oppression and injustice, responsible scholarship demands a critical assessment of how such characterizations  may fuel structural hegemonies, along with a sober acknowledgment of the ways in which academic discourses  may also become complicit in projects that stifle Haiti’s progress.
For its 25th annual conference, the Haitian Studies Association invites proposals that explore issues of representation and responsibility as they pertain to research and writing on Haiti and its diaspora. The Association aims to breathe new life into the field of Haitian Studies by proffering new models of Haitianist scholarship and reinvigorating some of the debates that enlivened our inaugural meeting in 1989. After a quarter-century of research, debate, publications, and conferences, what has Haitian Studies come to mean? And perhaps more importantly, how do we envision the field evolving? These questions become even more pertinent with the annual conference taking place in Haiti and with the increased involvement of Haiti-based scholars.

We are interested in presentations that engage the following questions:

• What kinds of discourses shape perceptions of Haiti, and in what ways do individuals seek to challenge or perhaps reinscribe notions of Haitian difference and exceptionalism?
• How might scholars grapple productively with myths and realities as we seek to enlighten those who rely on the “knowledge” we produce?
• How might we move past perennial conversations about stereotypes and generalizations to construct more liberating narratives that do justice to the complexity and dynamism of Haiti and its people?
• What sociopolitical and cultural forces impinge on our ability to either problematize or reassert notions of Haitian exceptionalism?
• How do we hold accountable journalists and scholars whose projects rely on uses of Haiti as icon of misery, political unrest and human rights abuses?
• What should we make of the appropriation of Haiti as experimental field and stepping stone in journalism, scholarship and applied projects?
• Ultimately, how has the discipline of Haitian Studies served as both foundation to help change misrepresentations and chart the implementation of new paradigms and related courses of action in the project of rebuilding Haiti?

We also welcome discussions of Haiti in relation to its Caribbean and broader global context, where “difference” and “otherness” are enduring tropes. Presentations will include, but not be limited to, history, anthropology, education, psychology, politics, sociology, feminism and gender studies, religion, ecology, development, community building, literary studies, communication, ethnomusicology, culture, literature and art as well as issues such as migration, patrimony, environment and health.

The program will consist of panels, papers, posters, videos, exhibits, readings, discussion groups, and listening sessions. Selected papers from the conference will appear in the Journal of Haitian Studies (JOHS), a refereed academic publication of the Haitian Studies Association, to be issued approximately one year following the conference. Guidelines for general participation in the conference and a proposal submission form are attached. The deadline for proposals is May 1st, 2013.

For more information, visit the website at

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