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Stories of Haitian Womanhood…” – Repeating Islands

Here is a call for papers for the conference “Rasanblaj Fanm: Stories of Haitian Womanhood, Past,
Present and Future,” to be held at the Institute for Black Atlantic Research, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, United Kingdom, July 10-12, 2024.

This event marks 220 years of Haitian independence, 200 years since Marie-Louise Christophe, first and only Queen of Haiti, departed Britain, and 90 years since the end of the U.S. Occupation of Haiti (1915-1934). It also celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Institute for Black Atlantic Research, whose record of hosting international events celebrating Haitian history and culture is established. Confirmed keynote speakers include Haitian-born artist Patricia Brintle, Ayitian Ourstorian and Vodouvi Professor Bayyinah Bello, and filmmaker and journalist Etant Dupain

The deadline for submissions of proposals for papers, panels, film/video presentations, workshops, and roundtables is January 13, 2024.

Description: Haitian women are regarded as the poto mitan (central pillar) of Haitian society. As caregivers, warriors, healers, artisans, traders, cultivators, manbos, storytellers, companions and agitators, they have been vital agents in shaping the fortunes of Haiti’s revolutionary anticolonial
encounters and its quest for sovereignty and legitimation as an independent state. However, this term of veneration conceals diverse forms of political, social and discursive exclusion that women in Haiti and across the dyaspora confront in the present, and the myriad forms of silence and neglect to which they have been subjected in the historical record.

The little that we know of the women whose courage, ferocity, resilience and generosity paved a course for independence, postcolonial statehood and the universal and permanent abolition of slavery in 1804 is often shrouded in mythology, which, as Colin Dayan has highlighted, “not only erases these women but forestalls our turning to [their] real lives.” Moreover, these legendary “sheroes” of Haiti’s past have often been exploited for the sake of political opportunity, symbolically deployed in the service of nationalist sleights of hand which obscure the precarity, insecurity, exploitation and vulnerability of Haitian women in the present. Piecing together the scattered fragments produced by the violence and ruptures of the colonialist archive and the continuing violence, neglect and co-optation of the dominant political oligarchy necessitates a form of rasanblaj, or (re)assembly, a practice advocated by Gina Athena Ulysse which “demands that we consider and confront the limited scope of segregated frameworks to explore what remains excluded in this landscape that is scorched yet full of life, riddled with inequities and dangerous and haunting memories.” Through rasanblaj, multiple modalities and disciplinary perspectives offer pathways of intersection.

This conference invites opportunities to (re)assemble narratives, theorisations, performances, mobilisations and representations of Haitian womanhood, past, present and future. It welcomes proposals for 15-20-minute presentations from scholars, artists, activists, performers, creators and organisers that grapple with these diverse assemblages of Haitian womanhood.

All materials should be sent to the conference organisers, Dr M. Stephanie Chancy and Dr Nicole Willson at rasanblajfanm@gmail.com by the deadline date.

For full CfP, see https://www.fanmrebel.com/media/cfp-rasanblaj-fanm-stories-of-haitian-womanhood-past-present-and-future

Painting above by Patricia Brintle: “Marie-Jeanne Lamartinière” (2012). Information below from https://www.fanmrebel.com/en/gallery/#images

This painting, from Patricia Brintle’s series on Haitian revolutionary women, depicts Marie-Jeanne Lamartinière (thought to have been the companion of Louis Daure Lamartinière) who is recounted as having fought among the troops during the conclusive revolutionary battle at Crête-à-Pierrot in March 1802. Brintle’s caption reads:

Marie Jeanne Lamartiniere is considered one of the heroines of the Haitian revolution. Little is known of her except that she fought valiantly during the battle of the Crete-a-Pierrot next to her husband, Brigade Commander Louis Daure Lamartiniere. She could be seen over the fortifications, carbine in hand, saber at her side, distributing ammunitions, lighting canons, and constantly encouraging the soldiers to keep fighting. The fort was besieged by the French and all seemed lost when word came from Dessalines that the fort was to be evacuated immediately. That same night, on March 24th, 1802, most escaped when the besieged rebels fought their way through more than 10,000 French troops. This withdrawal was a remarkable feat and won Lamartiniere a name among the heroes of Haiti’s independence. We do not know for sure what became of Marie Jeanne after the retreat from the Crete-a-Pierrot, but it is her bravery, fearlessness and intrepid boldness that make her unforgettable.

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