Spring 2004

Anthropology of Haiti

Ulysse,Gina Athena

01/26/2004 - 05/08/2004
Monday 06:00 PM - 08:30 PM

Fisk Hall 412

This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to deconstruct the myths and realities in popular representations of Haiti. January 2004 will mark the bicentennial of the Haitian Revolution, the only successful slave insurrection in history. While this celebratory moment is being acknowledged internationally, the island has long been regarded as something of an oddity within the Caribbean. Branded the "nightmare republic" since it gained independence in 1804, in current popular imagination, it remains conceptually incarcerated as a failed republic incapable of self-governance, "the poorest nation in the western hemisphere," and the birthplace of "voodoo."

We will critically examine the differences and similarities that Haiti shares with other countries in the region, emphasizing how the island's colonial history continues to affect current politics and cultural expressions. Topics include--but are not limited to--slavery and independence; the state and the nation, politics and socioeconomic changes; gender/race/color/class and identity; religion and popular culture; migration patterns and the Haitian diaspora. In addition, the course pays particular attention to key issues and moments that have characterized the connection between Haiti and the United States. To gain more insight into the long tumultuous relationship between these two nations, we will explore the historical significance of the United States' isolation of Haiti after the revolution, its succession of interventions early in the 20th century, and its current policies concerning refugees.

Texts for the course include works of history, sociology, ethnography, and ethnography fiction: Karen McCarthy Brown, MAMA LOLA: A VODOU PRIESTESS IN BROOKLYN; Edwidge Dandicat, BREATH, EYES AND MEMORY; Alex Dupuy, HAITI IN THE WORLD ECONOMY: CLASS, RACE AND UNDERDEVELOPMENT SINCE 1700; C.L.R. James, THE BLACK JACOBINS; Liza McAlister, RARA: VODOU POWER AND PERFORMANCE IN HAITI AND ITS DIASPORA; Jacques Roumain, MASTERS OF THE DEW; Michel Rolph-Trouillot, HAITI: STATE AGAINST NATION; Jennie Marcelle Smith, WHEN THE HANDS ARE MANY.

Students will be responsible for three five-page papers, a final eight-page research paper, and in-class presentation. Grades will be based on overall improvement over the course of the term, class participation, and the writing assignments

Gina Ulysse (B.A. Upsala College; M.A., Ph.D. University of Michigan) is assistant professor of anthropology and African American studies. She is author of Downtown Ladies: Informal Commericial Importing and Self-Making in Jamaica (forthcoming), and her many articles include "Cracking the Silence on Reflexivity: Negotiating Identities, Fieldwork and the Dissertation in Ann Arbor and Kingston," in Decolonizing the Academy: Diaspora Theory and African New World Studies, edited by Carol Boyce-Davies (Princeton: Africa World Press, 2003). Click here for more information about Gina Ulysse.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:

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