Call for Submissions – Journal of Haitian Studies

The Journal of Haitian Studies is a interdisciplinary refereed journal dedicated to scholarship on Haiti, including the arts, the sciences, and the humanities.

Most issues cover a broad range of topics and articles are accepted year round. Special issues on science, education, women, and spirituality are planned for the future. Right now, we are encouraging informed perspectives on the election process in Haiti for the forthcoming issue. The deadline for consideration for this issue is December 21, 2005.

Submissions should be roughly 4000-6000 words, and may be written in English, French, Kreyol, or Spanish. This is a juried publication, so your submitted article receives a careful review. You can request to see the comments of the (anonymous) readers.

Complete submission guidelines are available on the Journal’s web site:

Articles (sent as attachments) or inquiries may be sent to

Contacting Louverture Films

We’ve received several comments to this post requesting information on how to contact Danny Glover and Louverture Films. We have no contacts at that organization, but since there’s been such keen interest, I thought I would share a few thoughts.

In general, the best way to approach companies you want to work for is to find a personal contact — a friend of a friend, even — who knows someone at the place in question. The second best way is to write a personal letter or make a phone call and request an informational interview. The art of getting a foot in the door and conducting an informational interview is covered extremely well in Richard Bolles’ What Color is Your Parachute? I recommend that book highly for anyone seeking a position or association with a company.

Film companies don’t generally accept unsolicited material, and looking at their contact page, it would seem that Louverture Films is no exception. However, the FAQ page on the Louverture Films site offers some pretty clear guidelines on how to make contact with them. Be sure to read it.

For the most part, sending unwanted mail to a prospective producer makes you look unprofessional, so don’t do it. If you are a screenwriter with a property to shop around, get yourself a writers’ agent.

Finally, if you really want to work anywhere, but especially for small, specialty-oriented companies, you should be persistent yet respectful, and you should always emphasize what you have to offer, rather than what you hope to gain.

Good luck!

Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and Haitian History

Our hearts go out to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. For those who care to donate, I have added a link to the American Red Cross at the top right of this blog. For those missing loved ones or looking for further information about the aftermath of the storm, Rex Hammock’s Weblog has a list of survivor/missing databases, and a wiki, ThinkNOLA has been set up as a clearinghouse of information and resources.

There are also several blogs and other online sources who are providing information. has been an excellent resource. Also check out Metroblogging New Orleans, Kaye’s Hurricane Katrina Blog, the Hurricane Katrina page at Wikipedia, Eye of the Storm, Storm Digest, and the links here and here.

While much of the Gulf Coast has been affected by Katrina, New Orleans in particular has been the subject of intense focus. The city’s history is inextricably linked with Haiti’s own. The port of New Orleans was coveted by American traders in the late 1700s as the revolution in Haiti was being fought. Toussaint Louverture’s successes against the French troops attempting to retake the island contributed to Napoleon’s decision to sell the Louisiana Territory to the United States in 1803. You can read more about the dynamics at play in the Louisiana Purchase in this article at the Louverture Project wiki.

Carl A. Brasseaux at the University of Louisiana’s Center for Cultural and Eco-Tourism points out that:

Haitian immigrants have established a significant community in New Orleans over the past two decades. These emigrants from Hispañola are by no means the first to reach Louisiana. During a six-month period in 1809, approximately 10,000 refugees from Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti) arrived at New Orleans, doubling the Crescent City’s population. Approximately one-third of the refugees were white, an additional one-third were free persons of color, and the remaining one-third were slaves (primarily domestics). The vast majority of these refugees established themselves permanently in the Crescent City.

The early nineteenth-century immigrants had a profound impact upon New Orleans’ development. Refugees established the state’s first newspaper and introduced opera into the Crescent City. They also appear to have played a role in the development of Creole cuisine and the perpetuation of voodoo practices in the New Orleans area. More importantly, they were responsible for preserving the city’s French character for several generations.

This article at Slate attempts to explain why New Orleans came to be built where it is, below sea level and surrounded by massive levies. Some are asking whether New Orleans should be rebuilt. I can only imagine that those who ask that have never visited the city. There is a certain kind of magic there, and an undeniably unique sense of history. For all Americans, and especially the Haitian American residents of New Orleans, the city must survive and rebuild. To lose the Big Easy would be to lose a part of our soul, and to destroy a vital link between Haiti and America.

Best of Creole 2005 Contest

The major reason I’m so chagrined about being so behind on my blogging is that I’ve missed telling you about the “Best of Creole 2005 Contest.” The Louverture Project has teamed with with Eastern Digital Resources to offer a prize for the best history-related submission to the Creole-language contest. Here’s the blurb

There’s only 1 month left in our Best of Creole 2005 Contest. We are looking for articles, short stories, history essays, poetry – whatever you would like to submit in Creole. We have received a number of submissions already, but there’s still time to submit yours. The deadline is Aug. 31, 2005.

The winning submission will receive a $100 U.S prize.

The best history related submission will receive a $75 prize sponsored by our co-sponsor, The The Louverture Project

The top 12 to 15 submissions will be published in the Best of Creole, 2005.

Details are on our web site.

You’ve still got a couple of weeks to get your entries in, so head on over to the web site and submit your entry!

A bright spot in a dark day

In keeping up with the coverage of the London bombings today, I have to admit that my feelings have alternated between intense sorrow for the victims and slack-jawed awe at the speed and breadth of coverage at Wikipedia.

Wikis are incredibly good tools for capturing and organizing information online, and they work especially well when there’s a dedicated community involved. If you’re reading this, please remember that we need your help to grow The Louverture Project’s wiki. Take a look at the page above and think about how powerful the collective actions of like-minded individuals can be.

Haitian Studies Association annual conference to be held in Boston in October

The Seventeenth Annual Conference of the Haitian Studies Association (H.S.A)
October 13-15, 2005 • Campus Center • Ballroom A
University of Massachusetts Boston
Boston, Massachusetts 02125-3393


The Seventeenth Annual Conference of the Haitian Studies association, to be held on October 13-15, 2005, at the University of Massachusetts Boston, will be devoted to the theme ‘Haiti Chérie’: Creating New Pathways for Tomorrow.

As Haiti enters its third century, it has reached yet another crossroad at which it needs to reevaluate its past and set its course for the future. The 17th annual conference of the Haitian Studies Association will foster dialogues about the abundant richness of Haiti’s heritage, capture the creative spirit of its people, envision solutions to its present impasse, and trace new pathways for the future.

The 17th Annual Conference is accepting panel proposals, and individual papers on all aspects of Haiti’s rich legacy, past, present, and future. Among the topics that might be considered are Haiti’s distinguished historical, cultural, and political traditions that have shaped the creative spirit of its people. Creating new pathways for tomorrow is rooted in the conception of envisioned models that rely on fundamental choices between continuity with the past and change for the future. The presentations may examine economic and political possibilities that lay ahead. Participants may focus on issues crossing multiple race/class/gender and population lines and covering topics from forced migration, life histories, immigration, environment, health, contemporary Haitian popular culture and arts are strongly encouraged.

Deadline for submission is June 15, 2005.

For additional information please contact Cassandra Villari at:

Haitian Studies Project
University of Massachusetts Boston
Boston, Ma 02125-3393
Tel: (617) 287-7138 or 7166 Fax: (617) 287-6797

A Tribute to Ossie Davis from Haiti Progres

With full credit to “Haiti Progres”:

March 2 – 8, 2005
Vol. 22, No. 51

FEBRUARY 28, 2005:

by Milton Leblanc

Ossie was a friend of mine.

Ossie was a friend of all of us who fight for justice and dignity for
every human being.

This kind a gentle man was able with his soft demeanor to affect
monumental changes in the world.

He eulogized the great Malcolm X, after his brutal assassination on
February 21, 1965. He then eulogized Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, after
his assassination on April 4, 1968. There are no eulogies left for

He gave us the best that can be found in any man. He lived a life of
struggle, with his lovely queen, Ruby Dee, he walked the walk and
talked the talk.

For those of us who had the pleasure of meeting him, he left an
unforgettable mark. For those that experienced his presence through
films and other public appearances, he always portrayed the honest
and the good in all us. He left us an incredible legacy… that of a
sensitized man who championed the cause of the less fortunate.

The quintessential “artiste engagé,” he participated in the major
struggles of the 20th century. He ranks among those who attain a
privileged and popular place in society but never forget their roots:
the roots of poverty, discrimination, apathy and abuse performed by
those who have material means at their disposal against those who do
not have those means.

Ossie will be missed. It is so hard to fill the shoes of one who
accomplished so much and meant so much too so many. He was a tireless
worker. He engaged all his faculties and all his artistic talents to
bring change where change was needed. He opposed despots and despotic
measures that impede human progress.

It was in that capacity that he graced the Haitian people and the
Haitian struggle when he hosted for the Haiti Support Network (HSN)
the New York premiere of Raoul Peck’s film “Man by the Shore” on
January 25, 1996. Along with his lifelong companion Ruby Dee, he
joined other hosts of the evening including Ramsey Clark, former U.S.
attorney general, Michael Moore, the noted documentary filmmaker,
David Dinkins, former mayor of New York City, and other freedom
loving people in support of the Haitian cause.

Our paths crossed again when Ossie spoke at an April 7, 2004 rally at
Brooklyn College organized by the HSN and the International Action
Center to protest the February 29, 2004 coup. There, Ossie spoke
about his childhood interest in Toussaint Louverture and Jean-Jacques
Dessalines and about the Haitian revolution as an inspiration for his
own life and of the pride that he felt speaking about the first
successful slave rebellion in the world.

Ossie identified with Haiti and Haitians because he knew that
injustice against and indifference to Haitians and Haiti meant the
same injustice against and indifference to all people who fight for
justice everywhere.

Ossie knew that the same oppressors responsible for the Haitian
debacle were the same oppressors that are responsible for abusing the
materially poor peoples of the world. From Ossie, we learn that
Haiti’s current struggle reflect the struggles against slavery and
against world domination by the remaining “superpower.”

The people of Haiti have lost a great friend, someone who understood
our struggle,who lived our struggle, and who walked comfortably in
our shoes as if they were his own. We lost one of us.

Ossie was one of our most prominent soldiers. We have lost a true
warrior, and we are poorer because of it. But we march on because
this great man, this great advocate of freedom, always marched with
us and for us.

Thank you Ruby. Thanks Ossie. Brother, you will be missed.

All articles copyrighted Haiti Progres, Inc. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Progres.

Hayden’s tips for moderating conversations in virtual space

As the community around The Louverture Project starts to grow, it’s worth keeping in mind Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s list of tips for moderating conversations in virtual space. (Via Boing Boing)

That’s what a wiki is, after all: a formalized conversation about a community’s understanding of a topic. For example, if you were to have a discussion with a friend in which you kept track of your premises on a blackboard – erasing and refining your points as your understanding developed – you’d have a crude version of a wiki. Wikis help a community refine and rework information in a way that’s transparent and egalitarian. A good wiki will also have a structure in place to keep the conversation useful for all the participants, and not allow bad-mannered users to have a dominant voice.

Posting schedule and site update

I apologize for the lack of posting here in the last week, I will do my best to keep on a more regular schedule of updating the blog at least once every couple of days, if not more frequently. I like to post notices of arts and cultural events when I get them, as well as articles of note about wikis, collaborative websites, and Haitian history. If you have any submissions for the blog, please drop me an email at stuart at thelouvertureproject dot org. (Replace the words “at” and “dot” with their appropriate keyboard symbols, of course.)

One of the things that’s had me so busy for the past week has been the hunt for a new hosting company for the blog and wiki. After much research, I’ve finally found us a new online home. I expect the transition to the new service to take place sometime in the coming week. If all goes well, you shouldn’t notice the change, but if you try to access either the blog or the wiki and they aren’t available, don’t panic! Just give it an hour or so and try again.

I’m planning to upgrade the look of the blog soon, with a snazzy new banner, popular links, Amazon book lists, and more, so stay tuned, and please keep in touch. I’m most concerned about making The Louverture Project both a place people want to visit and a source of accurate, timely information, so drop me a line or leave a comment every once in a while and let me know how we’re doing.

American Slave Narratives

This isn’t strictly on topic, but I chanced recently to rent a documentary that consisted mostly of black actors reading from interviews conducted in 1936 to 1938 with former slaves. Today, I came across a website that has some of the interviews posted, along with pictures and sound files.

What struck me in listening to these stories was how similar the experience was of the American slaves at the time of the Civil War to their counterparts in Haiti from the late 18th Century. In some ways, slave life in America was better, in some ways worse, but in both cases it was brutal business and cruelly inhumane. Reading these may be even more powerful than the performances were.

American Slave Narratives