Marlene Daut on Haiti and the Digital World

January 18, 2017
3:30 pm–5:00 pm
Alderman Library, Room 421

Haiti and the Digital World: Archiving Black Sovereignty Together in Life and Death

In the spirit of Papa Legba (a Haitian lwa who acts as an arbiter between the human and non-human worlds), this paper examines the challenges and opportunities presented when using a digital humanities approach to narrate the creation of two independent “black” states in the early nineteenth century, a critical, but often forgotten, part of the story of the making of the modern world-system. Abdul JanMohamed and David Lloyd have written about “Archival work, as a form of counter-memory” that is “essential to the critical articulation of minority discourse.” However, because archives, like other kinds of texts, reflect the worldview of their creators, the archivist working to articulate “minority discourse” must be careful not to reproduce patterns of domination or cultural exploitation. For Haiti, this means that we must work against the idea that the abundant historical resources now made readily (and often freely) available by various digitization projects, represent a “new frontier” for research, an idea which encourages the notion that the country is “open for business” on a variety of levels. Instead, by using the metaphor of the crossroads, I demonstrate how a multi-modal approach—involving, content, context, collaboration, and access—can allow for alternative ways of (humanely) archiving black sovereignty with respect for both the living and the dead.

Dr. Marlene Daut is an Associate Professor of African Diaspora Studies, Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, American Studies at the University of Virginia.

This talk, co-sponsored by the Carter G. Woodson Institute and the Scholars’ Lab, is free and open to the public.

 

 

 

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