Teaching Haiti: Strategies for Creating New Narratives.

AuthorVilsaint, Fequiere

Accilien, Cecile and Valerie K. Orlando, eds. Teaching Haiti: Strategies for Creating New Narratives. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2021.

In Teaching Haiti: Strategies for Creating New Narratives, editors Cecile Accilien and Valerie K. Orlando bring together a multidisciplinary team of fifteen scholars who contribute on a wide range of subjects that focus on teaching and sharing strategies for creating new narratives in Haiti's representation in academic settings. Teaching Haiti is a collection of clear and concise writing with representative syllabi intended to inform, inspire, and guide the planning of courses about the history and culture of Haiti. The book is divided into three broad thematic teaching categories: teaching art, literature, and language; teaching history and politics; and teaching about Haiti in the context of Latin American Studies, Western Hemisphere Studies, and Global Studies. Throughout the book, the authors challenge the disparaging misrepresentation of Haiti as a "malet" of "cliches in a box." Examples include the frequent portrayal of Haiti as a crisis-ridden, helpless society dominated by local religious belief systems. Many introductions to the study of Haiti often begin with the often-repeated assertion that Haiti is the "poorest country in the Western Hemisphere." The authors contend that a more revealing--and less pejorative--approach would be to introduce Haiti's multifaceted culture to students at the outset. The essays examine the influence of Haiti throughout the Atlantic basin and evaluate the representation of Haiti in the international media. Most importantly, the authors examine Haiti's own cultural expressions as a base to create asset-framed narratives instead of deficit-framed narratives (which define people by the worst things that have happened to them).

The authors provide the framework for students to reflect critically on the complex history and culture that succeeded the journey to freedom when the enslaved people of Saint-Domingue brought the Haitian Revolution to fruition in 1804. The Haitian Revolution, the only successful revolt against slavery in the Americas, sent shock waves throughout the Atlantic World, touching four continents. The colonial world order was challenged and, as a response, economic embargoes were imposed, diplomatic relations were denied, and international criticism and condemnation was prevalent. Haiti was disparaged in discourses and academic writing. All...

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