Forthcoming work on Aimé Césaire, Haiti, and Caribbean Modernity


I thought I would let you know about an exciting project I’m working on . It’s a book on one of the most  influential Francophone poets and intellectuals in the twentieth century. Aimé Fernand David Césaire  , simply known as Aimé Césaire, was born in the island of Martinique on June 26, 1913 and passed away six years ago on April 12, 2008. He studied in Paris in the 30s  along with his friends Léopold Sédar Senghor and Léon Damas, the founders of the Negritude movement. Césaire was poet, statesman,  and  intellectual.  André Breton, the father of surrealism dubbed him “Un grand poet noir,” a racialist epithet I dissapprove.  Césaire was a militant  anticolonial writer, an advocate for social justice, social equality, human rights, black humanity and dignity. His two most important works are  his tour-de force- poem (1)  Cahier d’un retour au pays natal ( Paris: Volontés,1939), an epic that gave birth to the Negritude movement. Cesaire coined the word “negritude” as a counter discourse to Western modernity and the West’s idea of ordering of the world, and its assessment of (black) humanity; and (2) his seminal essay  Discours sur le colonialisme ( Paris: Présence Africaine , 1955),  which is arguably one of the most important anticolonial essays written in Western scholarship. Discours is a militant and counter response to European colonialism, imperialistic project, and their deadly mechanisms. 

port au prince haiti by David G-H.

My book tentatively entitled Aimé Césaire, Haiti,  and Caribbean Modernity (2012) will contribute to Césairian discourse of negritude and his vision of a new humanism. The book will give a fresh reading of Cesaire’s poetics, address precisely its indebtedness and relations to Haiti. Cesaire’s poetic discourse including his creative process were influenced by  revolutionary Haiti and the life and deeds of Haiti’s foremost military general and first postcolonial leader, Toussaint Louverture. In Cahier d’un retour au pays natal, Cesaire posits  that Haiti is where negritude stood for the first time and believed in its humanity. For Cesaire, Caribbean modernity began with the Haitian Revolution; and that West Indians, borrowing the phrase  from C.L. R. James,  became a people at the event of the Haitian Revolution, a peculiar event  in the historical narrative and genesis of the Caribbean people.  The project will read Cesaire in light of the Haitian Revolution, the cradle of blackness and Caribbean modernity, and argue that  Cesaire’s poetic consciousness as an anticolonial writer owes its expression  to Haiti. The historical achievement of Africans in Saint-Domingue-Haiti, and the fact that Haiti became the first independent state in the New World, was significant to Cesaire’s articulation of his negritude philsophy, his idea of black humanity, and his argument of the responsibility of the black race to universal civilisation. I will contend for a new vision  of Caribbean modernity rooted in a Cesairian ethics and hermeneutics of difference .  Cesaire’s Caribbean modernity was shaped by the discourse of the Haitian Revolution. The Haitian Revolution, Cesaire would argue, was  the “big bang of antillean cosmos.” Finally,  I believe that Cesaire is has a lot to contribute to modern discourse on universalism, ethics, and human rights. His voice still speaks  today, his message for us  in the twenty-first century is simply salvific. Cesaire’s political discourse is nothing less than his relentless activism for social justice and equality, human emancipation and human rights , which many believe the Haitian Revolution inaugurated.

 Your faithful servant,



Journal of Haitian Studies, Volume 15, Numbers 1 & 2

Journal of Haitian Studies, Volume 15, Numbers 1 & 2
Haitian Studies Association 20th Anniversary Issue


Development Revisited

Haiti’s Disproportionate Casualties after Environmental Disasters: Analyzing Human Vulnerabilities and the Impacts of Natural Hazards
—Crystal Andrea Felima

Attempts at Reforming Haiti’s Education System: The Challenges of Mending the Tapestry, 1979-2004
—Marc Prou

Historical Reimaginings

Dessalines’s American Proclamations of the Haitian Independence
—Deborah Jenson

Gendering the June Days: Race, Masculinity, and Slave Emancipation in Saint Domingue
—Elizabeth Colwill

The Success of Toussaint Louverture: Dependence by Design
—Logan Thomas

Birth of a Nation: The Creation of the Haitian Flag and Haiti’s French Revolutionary Heritage
—Philippe R. Girard

Old Stories, New Narratives

A New Look at the Events of 20 June 1793
—Jeremy D. Popkin

“Enfans de l’Amérique”: Configuring Creole Citizenship in the Press, 1793
—Aletha Stahl

Theory and the Social Revolution in Haiti
—David Fistein

Light at the End of the Road: Thomas Jefferson’s Endorsement of Free Haiti in his Final Years
—Arthur Scherr

Dossier: La Danse sur le volcan

La représentation de la révolution haïtienne en tant que conflit civil : La Danse sur le volcan de Marie Vieux-Chauvet
—Anja Bandau

The Ambiguities of Agency: Marie Vieux-Chauvet’s La Danse sur le Volcan
— Curtis Small

Narrativité et fictionnalité dans la Danse sur le Volcan
—Maurice Joseph African Legacies

The Face of Lafwa: Vodou & Ancient Figurines Defy Human Destiny
— Sara A. Rich

Gouverneurs de la Rosée en « Pays » d’Afrique
—Lucie Viakinnou-Brinson

Fusing Dance Traditions

Yanvalou’s Elliptic Displacements: Staging Spirit Time in the United States
—Celia Weiss Bambara

Serving the Spirit of the Dance: A study of Jean-Leon Destiné, Lina Mathon Blanchet and Haitian Folkloric Traditions
—Allison E. Francis

Locating Sovereignty

On Rituals of Governance: An Inquiry into the Performative Logic of Sovereignty, Sparked by the Contemporary Practices of Bann a Pye in Bel Air, Haiti
—Chelsey Louise Kivland

Rational Cooperation: Situating Konbit Labor Practice in Context
—Christian N. Vannier

Re-construire l’identité haïtienne : entre individualisme et collectivisme
—Dieulermesson Petit-Frere


Atis Rezistans: the Place, the Video, the Academy (reviewed by LeGrace Benson)

Jana Evans Braziel, Artists, Performers, and Black Masculinity in the Haitian Diaspora (reviewed by Celucien L. Joseph)

Susan Buck-Morss, Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History (reviewed by Patti M. Marxsen)

Maryse Condé, trans. Richard Philcox, I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem (reviewed by Mary Jo Muratore)

Doris L. Garraway, ed., Tree of Liberty: Cultural Legacies of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World (reviewed by Natalie Léger Palmer)

Léon-François Hoffmann, Frauke Gewecke, and Ulrich Fleischmann, eds., Haïti 1804 Lumières et ténèbres Impact et résonances d’une révolution (reviewed by Frantz Antoine Leconte)

J. Edward Hutson, ed., On the Treatment and Management of the More Common West-India Diseases 1750–1802 (reviewed by Deryck Murray)

Jean Jonassaint, Typo/Topo/Poéthique sur Frankétienne (reviewed by Asselin Charles)

Valerie Kaussen, Migrant Revolutions: Haitian Literature, Globalization, and US Imperialism (reviewed by Peter Hallward)

Lorena Madrigall, Human Biology of Afro-Caribbean Populations (reviewed by Tara A. Inniss)

M. Catherine Maternowska, Reproducing Inequities: Poverty and the Politics of Population in Haiti (reviewed by Gina Athena Ulysse)

(KRISTO) Christian Nicholas and Fred Thomas, Here … There and Beyond: The Work of 16 Haitian Artists of Florida (reviewed by LeGrace Benson)

Bernardo Vega, ed., trans. Christine Ayorinde, Dominican Cultures: The Making of a Caribbean Society (reviewed by Sheridan Wigginton)

New Books on Haiti

Haitians and African Americans: A Heritage of

Tragedy and Hope by LEON D. PAMPHILE

From Toussaint to Tupac: The Black International since the Age of Revolution

Haitian Studies Association 2009 Conference

The Haitian Studies Association’s 2009 conference is scheduled for November 12-14 , 2009 on the beautiful campus of Indiana University  (Bloomington, Indiana ). The present theme is as follows

New Ecologies: Actualizing Global Contributions and Development in Haiti 

Call for Papers:  Click here to download English version!
Cliquez ici pour lécharger la version française!



EXTENDED DEADLINE for submission of proposals:
JUNE 30, 2009

Edwidge Danticat Wins Nicolas Guillen Prize

 Date: Thu, 11 Jun 2009 15:33:33 -0700
Subject: Nicolas Guillen Prize

Dear CPA members and friends,

I am delighted to inform you that the winner of the 2009 Caribbean Philosophical Association’s Nicolás Guillén Prize is Edwidge Danticat.  Danticat is a prominent writer who was born in Haiti and came to the United States when she was twelve.    She earned a degree in French literature from Barnard College, and an MFA from Brown University.  Her works include Breath, Eyes, Memory, Krik? Krak!, and Dew Breaker, among others.  She has won several prizes for her work including the American Book Award for The Farming of the Bones.  And her 2007 Brother, I’m Dying was a finalist for the National Book Award.  We hope to count with her presence in Miami!


Here is a link:




Nelson Maldonado-Torres

CPA President