Looking Back on Haiti: Reexploration and Rewriting in a Diasporic Perspective

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
contact email: 

NeMLA 2023: Niagara Falls, NY. March 23-26, 2023.

In the second half of the 20th century, Haitian society has been profoundly impacted by massive waves of exile provoked by the collective trauma of the Duvaliers dictatorships and epitomized by the internationally recognizable image of the "boat people". On the literary scene, the resulting Haitian diaspora, in North America and elsewhere, has found ways to maintain connections with the native land, reminiscing on childhood memories, revisiting Haiti both physically and metaphorically, and engaging with their shared history, myths, and traditions.

What discourses and representations are held by these exiled authors on their native land? How do their diasporic perspective inform their perception on, and relationship with, Haiti? To what extent do they reflect on the socio-economic gap between Haitian people's living situation and their own, brought by their settling abroad, and how does such distance question their ability and sense of legitimacy to write on Haiti, or "for" Haitians?

This panel welcomes submissions in English and in French that consider works by exiled Haitian-born authors reflecting on external representations and personal experience and memories of Haiti.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:
- migration, exile, and diaspora
- childhood memories
- dictatorship and political violence
- trauma, (inter)generational trauma
- metatextuality and reception
- historical narratives and testimony
- questions of "authenticity" and "legitimacy"

Abstracts of 200-300 words should be submitted directly on the NeMLA website by September 30, 2022: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/20034 (direct link to this panel).

Jeanne Devautour Choi, Columbia University