Just finished your book, HAITI: THE AFTERSHOCKS OF HISTORY and want to express my appreciation for your scholarship and the gift of a well-written story.
Was saddened to read of the misguided US foreign policy measures taken over the years. Was heartened by the resilience of the Haitian people through all the turmoils in search of liberty and justice.
Plan to visit the north part of the country with wife and friend in February 2015 on a quick trip to learn more and gain a sense of the history, people and landscapes.
J.R. Becraft, Tillamook, Oregon, Les Etats-Unis
Bonjour ! Nous venons de regarder Ayiti Toma de Joseph Hillel, un collègue de Montréal, et avons constaté avec plaisir que vous y participiez. Nous nous sommes procurés l’an dernier “The Aftershock of History…”. Comptez-vous publier ce livre en français ?
Bonjour! Le film de Joseph est vraiment très bien – j’étais ravi de pouvoir y participer et content que vous avez pu le voir. J’espère vivement publier une traduction de “Aftershocks” en français et je poursuis divers possibilités pour le faire (mais il faut les fonds, etc.). Entretemps mon livre « Les Vengeurs du Nouveau Monde, » a été publié en français (en France et en Haïti) si cela vous intéresse. J’espère que la lecture du livre sera fructueuse !
I am currently reading HAITI: THE AFTERSHOCKS OF HISTORY. I find the work extremely valuable, but I am prompted to seek out contact with you because of my escalating frustration. The lack of a bibliography makes navigating the notes more than a little tedious. Do you by any chance have a bibliography available? It would be greatly appreciated.
Do you think racism is a term like holocaust that is increasingly defined by historical context of 20th century American (White vs. Black). and needs a broader analogue (like genocide is to holocaust) to describe more nuanced racism and racism that is brown vs. black (such as Latin America and North Africa)? My White (racist?) view of the word always tends to evoke a Bull Connor/Rodney King kind of context that is unequivocal.
By: Jacob J. Barker on September 7, 2013 at 2:16 pm
Race certainly is, globally, an incredible complex and multi-faceted terrain, and it’s always important not to project from the very specific historical and ideological context of the U.S. onto other spaces. There’s definitely a broad Atlantic spaces in which the history of slavery and its inheritances have created a particular form of racial practice and thinking, and that shapes Africa and Europe as well. But even a quick look at the various forms of racism and racial thinking in the Caribbean, Latin America, and Europe — as well as the variations within the U.S. itself — makes clear the complexities. I have a colleague here at Duke, Bruce Hall, who has written interestingly about the history of racial thinking within West Africa, for instance, over the last 500 years, and its very interesting research.
I am a Wolverine myself and a fan of the French team (for the less-exciting reason that it’s just my ancestral country). I just read “Soccer Empire” and thought it was really interesting. It did provoke a couple of thoughts on my part:
1. You present Thuram as a kind of spokesman for the minority French players. While black. Thuram is somewhat “assimilated” in the sense that his name sounds French, he is a Christian, and he is from a region still loyal to France. What if the role of spokesman had been taken up by, say, a Muslim player of West African ancestry? Would such a player have been less accepted by the French mainstream?
2. In a similar vein, this may sound kind of politically incorrect but do you think Zidane’s popularity is aided by the fact that his physical appearance is quite “European”? Unlike some other beur celebrities, like Jamel Debbouze, Zidane quite honestly could pass for a “Français de souche” if not for his name. Did it also help him that he married a European woman and gave his children European names, which may suggest a level of “integration”?
These are just a couple of thoughts that popped into my head. Anyway, I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to others.
(A couple of little errors I caught in the text: the female rapper’s stage name is Diam’s, not Diam, and the Lyon club is Olympique Lyonnais, not Olympique de Lyonnais.)
Thanks, James, for these comments on the book! I think you are right about both Thuram and Zidane that in some ways they were more acceptable to the mainstream than other players might have been. It’s interesting to contrast them a bit with Karembeu, for instance, who in some ways has been more radical and oppositional, or someone like Assou-Ekotto, who is unequivocal in saying that he would never play for France though he grew up there. Thanks also for pointing out those errors — will hopefully be able to correct those in a subsequent printing.
Contacted you with our documentary The Refree a few year’s back.
Here is our latest effort The Other Sport (Original title in Swedish Den Andra Sporten) a 3-tale documentary about the history and conditions in women’s football/soccer in Sweden since the 1960s. Quite possibly up your alley…
First, thank you for “Haiti: The Aftershocks of History”. When I do my talk, “Avengers…” has helped me greatly, but “Aftershocks…” is the crucial story left untold. And you do it with your usual frankness and lucidity. I am again grateful.
Regarding the letter on this page from Irnst Norgaisse, April 19, 2012: It certainly amplifies the importance of both of the aforementioned works. The ideologies of the empires remain with us, with their literature of hierarchy and racism. Nothing exposes the lies of that literature like the story of the Haitian Revolution. The courage, ingenuity and devotion of those revolutionaries inserted a fulcrum point in world history. That we are too small to see that can’t belittle their actions, nor the ramifications in the future.
By the way, I may be in your area in February, 2013. Will you be?
Dear Dr. DuBois, I just finished your book Haiti: The Aftershocks of History. What a book. Your manner of telling history is such a readable blend of culture, history, psychology, sociology, religion and spirituality, politics, story telling, cultural analysis, and history. I thank you for writing it and wonder if you could tell me which other historians’ works you admire. I am especially interested in U.S. occupation of and intervention in the countries in our hemisphere, especially Central America and the Caribbean. Can you recommend some works? I teach literature at the university level and often find myself in the postition of retaching history so that my students understand the historical context of what they are reading. SIncerely, Sarah T.
Thanks, Sarah, for your kind words. I’m very pleased you enjoyed the book and the attempt to combine different angles on the story. There are lots of historical works I admire, of course. On the U.S. occupation in Haiti specifically I find the works of Hans Schmidt and Mary Renda very useful, but my favorite recent book is Kate Ramsey’s The Spirits and the Law, which is terrific and brings together anthropology, culture, literature and history in excellent ways. One of my favorite books about the Caribbean is Thomas Holt’s The Problem of Freedom, about Jamaica, which is a great way to get into the whole question of emancipation and what it meant to former slaves. I hope those suggestions help a bit!
Thank you for the feedback! I will look into those works. Sarah T.
By: Sarah Trembath on July 27, 2012 at 2:43 am
Dear Mr. Dubois,
I recently read Haiti: The Aftershocks of History and thoroughly enjoyed it. I am interested in learning more about the American occupation in Haiti. Do you know if Roger Gaillard’s book on Peralte, which you reference in your book, is available in English? I have searched for a copy and have not found one. Any other reading you would recommend on this period in Haitian history would be welcomed. I appreciate your writing. It has given me a desire to know Haiti better.
Thanks, Austin — I’m glad you enjoyed the book. Unfortunately Gaillard’s work is only available in French — they are amazing works, maybe even worth learning French for! : ) But in English on the U.S. occupation there are works by Mary Renda and Hans Schmidt (which I reference in Aftershocks); and two recent great books by Kate Ramsey (The Spirits and the Law) and MIllery Polyne (From Douglass to Duvalier) that deal with the period extensively. I’d also highly recommend Gage Averill’s book A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey on Haitian music, along with Michael Largey’s work on the same topic.
Dear Dr Dubois,
I am of a person of mixed Haitian and Dominican origin. I have lived all my life in Canada and the USA and have always been interested in the Haitian revolution. The books I had read so far gave an incomplete picture of this historic event and simplified too many facts. I have just finished reading Avengers of the new world and I think it is the best book I have read on the Haitian revolution. It is a must read. You provide a very good insight on the origins of the slave revolt, the main actors and most of all the complex political puzzle that might explain some of Louverture’s decisions. Are you planning on publishing a French version of the book? If there already is a French translation, can you please let me know where I can purchase it?
I would like to send the French version to several of my family members who live in Quebec.
Thank you, Jorge! I’m very pleased to hear you enjoyed the book. There is a French version that was published in France by Editions les Perseides, and also in Haiti by the Presses de l’Universite d’Etat d’Haiti. The French edition might be easier to order in Quebec; the title is simply “Les Vengeurs du Nouveau Monde.” The best bet is probably through amazon.ca although I imagine bookstores in Montreal may also be able to order directly from the publisher, though it is a small press so it may take a bit of time. Thanks again for your kind words!
Dear Mr Dubois,
I have read Avengers and am reading The Aftershock of History now and want to thank you for writing about Haiti. I am interested to learn about James T. Holly and the African American immigration to Haiti. Does anyone know what became of his descendants? Can you direct me to any books about him that talk about what effect these immigrants had, if any, on Haitian society?
Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the books. Unfortunately there is not that much work on Holly beyond what I cite in the book; it would be great to learn more about his descendants in the 19th and 20th centuries and how they have impacted Haiti, and more broadly about the impact of African-American migrants. There are some younger scholars, including one at Duke and another at UNC, who are looking into this in their dissertations!
Would it be possible for me to get in contact with these students or read their findings when they are finished?
By: Joshua Daby on June 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm
Absolutely — perhaps the best is if you email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I can put you in touch with them: they will not be finished for a while but you could perhaps contact them in the meantime!
I had been under the impression that Bill Clinton had a burning interest in and deep involvement in “reforming” Haiti and recall one interview in which he said, with some passion, that things were turning around before the earthquake. Yet Clinton only gets a couple of mentions in Aftershocks. What is the truth? What was Clinton involved in down there and was it doing any good?
I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to you. After and during the reading of your book, “Haiti:The Aftershocks of History”, I have been given something that I thought I would never have in this life.
I have on my own tried to free myself from the chains of self hatred and shame that was forced upon me by my own countrymen who always spoke of themselves in negative terms, the mythical readings of Haitians history, and of course the constant negative news on Haiti. With terms such as “We are a cursed people”, “Haiti means haïr”, “You can’t trust Haitians”, how could a child be expected to have any self respect or anything other then shame concerning his identity. I tried on my own by reading books about Haiti to rid myself of these shackles of shame, but all the negative press added to hearing Haitians speak mostly badly about Haitians did not help at all until your book. Now, for the first time in my life, I want to say that I am Haitian without feeling that I need to run under a rock after identifying myself. Also, when I travel to other countries, I wish I still had my Haitian passport. I am not talking about over-inflated pride. I am talking about the simple sense of being at ease in my identity. I am happy to hear Haitians speaking Haitian rather than in my mind wishing that they would speak any language but that. I am Haitian and proud to be a descendant of those extraordinary slaves.
Dear Mr. Norgaisse: You honor me with this message. I’m very pleased that the book has helped you connect with Haiti’s history in this way. There is indeed so much simple negativity and stereotype in circulation both outside Haiti and — as you point out — within it, as well as certain idealized versions of history the provide little way of grappling with the true complexity of the country’s past and present. Thank you so very much for writing — it is a very gratifying thing for me to hear. I wish you the best,
By: duboisl on April 19, 2012 at 9:39 pm
Dear Larry: Clinton has indeed been quite involved — he ordered the 1994 occupation, and more recently co-chaired the Interim Haitian Reconstruction Committee. His involvement is definitely important and continues to be, and he is a relatively rarity among U.S. politicians in that he does have a long involvement with Haiti and a good understanding of the country I think. The question of the impact of his contributions is, like much in recent Haitian history, the subject of a great deal of controversy, and many feel that ultimately the Reconstruction commission did not do all that it should or could have under his leadership — though of course it also faced tremendous structural and political difficulties in pursuing it’s work. There is a book by Philippe Girard called “Clinton in Haiti” that explores his role in the 1990s in great detail, if you are interested in learning more — my own book was heavily tilted towards narrating the long sweep of Haitian history and I don’t provide as much deal about the last few decades.
There is not much (and sometimes conflicting) information about Boukman’s origins and personal history before 1791. I have made a start in researching his life. I would be very grateful for any information or references you could provide. Thank you for your consideration.
Hello Michael: There are details about Boukman in my earlier history of the Haitian Revolution (Avengers of the New World) and also in Carolyn Fick’s The Making of Haiti and in writings by David Geggus, notably his Haitian Revolutionary Studies, though there are still many unanswered questions and indeed extremely little is known, beyond some broad suppositions (i.e. that he may have been from the British Caribbean, that his name (perhaps a version of “man of the book”) could suggested an Islamic origin). His time as a leader of the revolution was also quite brief, as he died early in the insurrection, which is one reason we don’t know as much about him as well.
Thank you Dr. Dubois: I do have your book, Avengers of the New World as well as Slave Revolution in the Caribbean and A Colony of Citizens, Haitian Revolutionary Studies by David Geggus and several others that are referenced in my master reference, Robert Lawless’s Haiti, A Research Handbook. I do follow Bob Corbett’s blog as well.
I have recently read some very engaging work by Sylviane Diouf in her “Servants of Allah”, detailing the transportation of large numbers of African Muslims to the Caribbean, as well, and she does mention Boukman in her book.
There was an article in 2009 in the Stockholm Review of Latin American Studies by Markel Thylefors about the “Bwa Kayiman” ceremony that reiterates the debate about the very existence of that ceremony, referencing Dalmas, Geggus and Hoffman. He aslo, of course, references your work in Avengers in his article.
For more current events I’ve read Paul Farmer’s works and others and I am aware of the work of the SOA Watch group.
If you discover any new threads to Boukman I would love to hear about them. Sincerely, Mike Shunney
By: Michael Shunney on April 20, 2012 at 2:09 am
Thank you so much for writing Haiti:The Aftershocks of History. I have been obsessed with Haiti for a little over a year now & am relieved that someone is mature enough to write a book about it like this.
I read and enjoyed your book: “Haiti: THe Aftershocks of History,” and was left wondering, is there anything concerned people CAN do to help Haiti? After reading “Aftershocks,” I was left with the impression that the kindest thing we can do is to leave the country alone as past help by other countries and NGOs has only made things much, much worse.
Dear Larry: Thanks for your comment. I think there is plenty that people can do to collaborate with Haitians in confronting current challenges. It has to start with really listening, though, and trying as much as possible to think from a perspective rooted in an understanding of Haiti’s history, culture, and language. But there are definitely individuals and groups who are doing that in different ways. We do need to be lucid about the ways in which sometimes well-meaning efforts ultimately don’t help or even backfire, though. Learning from mistakes, and keeping an open mind and ear, is the key.
i heard your jan. 23 interview on wnyc. also, i have been following haiti’s problems for some time now dating back to when i first heard that haitian women were paid slave wages to sew up major league baseballs sold by rawlings. isn’t it true that a large part of modern haiti’s problems are caused by the u.s. government running interference for it’s business constituents? haiti especially is viewed as a benchmark country against which all western hemisphere labor is measured. that’s why u.s. companies are especially interested in ensuring that haitians’ wages in the manufacturing sector remain the lowest in the hempisphere. when mr. aristide proposed raising the minimum wage to a livable standard he was pressured by the u.s. government through the embassy to back off. the u.s. and france were behind his exile in africa and the u.s. continues to place roadblocks in his path back to power despite his overwhelming popularity. it’s obvious to me that if you would follow the money, you would draw an extremely accurate picture of haiti’s plight. that is what should be emphasized.
I have read only the fine NY Times article about your thoughts and experience in Haiti. I couldn’t agree more with the idea that the country needs more small ag, small employ and almost everything non-corporate and non-big… like the old days. I spent many days on trips to all parts of the country during Baby Doc. i almost built a home in Jacmel. I love Haiti. Can you advise me which small organization that fulfills your ideas you could recommend so that I could send some small money? I have waited for somebody like you to start my donations.
Thanks for your message, Rick! Actually since writing the article I’ve been in touch with a number of organizations that strike me as doing useful work in this area, including Heifer International, which is launching new projects in Haiti, a reforestation project with a long history in Haiti, CODEP (http://haitifundinc.org/) and the Haitian Diaspora Federation who have an interesting project called Lakou Haiti. I’m hoping to learn more about all these projects and perhaps get a chance to visit to learn more, but I was impressed by what I’ve learned about their approaches. I hope that helps!
I had the pleasure of hearing you speak when I was taking a course with Aims McGuinness at MSU back in the 1990s. What a treat to read an article with your byline in the New York Times yesterday, particularly your mention of the positive economic role women can –and do– play in the marketplace.
Thank you for all your thoughtful work and congratulations on having it highlighted in the Times.
I posted your New York Times article on Haiti on Dallas Digest, a spirited discussion board in Texas. One of the respondents to the post is fixated on your reference to Haiti being for most of the 19th century “a site of agricultural innovation, productivity and economic success.” I further agitated the gentleman by calling Haiti “a once prosperous nation” in the thread’s title.
Dear Bob: My apologies for taking so long to respond to your comment! I assume this debate has long ago taken it’s course, but I appreciate you posting the piece. It’s true that it’s very difficult for many people to accept that Haiti has, at times, been successful — but I think that’s more for ideological reasons than empirical ones.
You are absolutely right, people do not want to hear the truth about Haiti was once the most beautiful and rich Island. Since after the occupation of USA , it worked to centralize the economy in Port-au-Prince. It pushed through a re-writing of the Haitian Constitution to allow foreigners to own land, which the country’s founders had banned for fear of re-enslavement, and worked to replace small farms with large plantations owned by foreign corporations. One think i can say to all of these people, i am proud to say I am Haitian. I have a beautiful history even though people are coming from other countries taking advantages of us. But i know there will be one day I will dare them to come to my Land to change my consitution because of their needs, they will say no. Just like France made us paid for our Freedom twice by Blood and Money. God is watching over Haiti!!! Love you my Beautiful Haitian Queen:)
By: Junie Altidort on June 13, 2012 at 4:03 am
I am currenlty researching the history of Guadeloupe during the French revolution of 1794. I tried to access your article in the W&M quarterly of 1999 but it seems impossible to download as the only site that allows it will not recognise my UK Zip/Postal code!!
I am acting my own behalf and that of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich London.
In the Museum is the guillotine blade attributed to Victor Hugues which he is said to have used to execute at least 50 aristorcrats and which was apparently liberated by a British naval captain – Scott of HMS Rose. However my current research tends to contadict the possibility as Rose sank off Jamaica in July 1794 and Scott had on only been in command for a few months. However in my travels one often hears ‘Guadelopue and Martinique dislike each other as the guillotine never reached Martinique.’
Any information as to how the blade was used and ended up in British hands would be extremely useful as would access to your article on Hugues.
Hello Larry! My apologies for taking so long to respond! If you want to contact me via email (email@example.com) I’ll happily send you a pdf of my article on Hugues; I also write in great detail about his regime in my book A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804. The story of the guillotine you provide lines up well with what transcribed in 1794, when Hugues — armed with the recent abolition of slavery by the French National Convention — re-conquered Guadeloupe from the British, and executed many French planters who had joined the British forces. More puzzling to me is the issue of when the guillotine would have been “liberated” — since the British didn’t re-take Guadeloupe, though they did keep control of Martinique throughout the period. One possibility might be that this was actually used in St. Lucia, which the French briefly took over but then lost to the British. Do get in touch if you’d like to share other ideas about this!
I am a Scottish High School student and am just writing to tell you how much I enjoyed ‘Soccer Empire’. I have used some of the information from it to help write one of my folio pieces on whether or not the 1998 victory helped improve race relations in the country. I was just wanting to thank you for all the knowledge I gained from it but also for inspiring me to write something different than yet another L’étranger essay.
I particularly enjoyed reading about Lilian Thuram who seems like an extremely intelligent and influential character.
Thank you, Greg! That is really great to hear — I’m glad the book was useful. Thuram is indeed a remarkable figure, and one of my big goals in the book was to narrate and analyze his role over the years. If you are interested, I regularly write about French football at my “Soccer Politics” blog (you can see a link on this page), and there is also additional material there written by Duke students about the intersections between politics and football in a number of places, including Scotland!
First things first, I would like to find out whether you are related to the “Dubois” in “Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution.” I have been reading this book for two days without doing anything else. I can not put it down.
I want to say thanks for your comprehensive work on the subject.
Do you have any idea why the officers who found the bottomless box of Toussaint Louverture’s letters decided to reduce them to ashes and throw them to the ocean instead of keeping them?
Please respond by thinking about the rumors of Pauline Leclerc’s promiscuity and seduction of the French and Indigenous officers.
By: FreeFrenchandHaitianCreolePress on August 21, 2011 at 11:42 pm
Hello! Thank for you the kind words about the book. I think the officers did destroy those letters precisely out of a concern of how they might expose certain relationships and implicate certain women, perhaps even Pauline. Madison Smartt Bell uses the incident to great effect in his All Soul’s Rising!
I have decided to dedicate a unit of my world history course next year to the Haitian Revolution and discussions of the problems afflicting Haiti today. I’m currently reading your book – Avengers of the New World- which I have been enjoying tremendously and I wonder if you know of any contemporary memoirs that reflect about the recent past in Haiti? I’m looking at the possibility of assigning memoirs to my students so any suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated since I’m not at all an expert in the field.
Dear Alexandra: Glad to hear the book is useful! At the top of my list for contemporary memoirs is the stunning and searing book by Edwidge Danticat, Brother I’m Dying. It manages to tell the story of the past few decades in both Haiti and the U.S. through a particularly vivid and moving family story.
Another book that I frequently use in teaching is Karen McCarthy Brown’s Mama Lola, not precisely a memoir but an ethnography of Vodou practice, that is imaginatively constructed in chapters that alternative between fictional reconstruction and anthropological analysis.
There are many others, of course, but hopefully those can be a good start!
Absolutely loved “Soccer Empire,” so well thought out and a delightful read as well.
I’m currently working on a book about how the game has changed in the past twenty years. It just touches briefly on some of the French team’s travails since the highs of France 98; I wonder if I could ask you a couple questions particularly about the latest scandal, the FFF “ethnic quota” proposal?
Thanks & regards,
(ps I think we may have met at Terrace Club back in the day…)
Hello Shona! I think I remember meeting at Terrace! Nice to hear from you — thanks for the kind comments about the book. I’d be happy to answer questions. I’ve written a lot about the French team’s travails during the past years, and just posted several reflections on the recent FFF scandal, at my Soccer Politics Blog: sites.duke.edu/wcwp. But am always glad to talk soccer. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Cher Andy: Malheureusement pour le moment je n’ai pas de possibilite de traduction, mais je suis en train de chercher. J’aimerais beaucoup que cela soit publie en France, bien sur! Pap Ndiaye a publie on compte-rendu sympathique du livre au site La Vie des Idees, ou j’ai aussi fait un entretien parlant en partie du livre:
Cher Andy: Merci infiniment! Cela me fait vraiment plaisir, car j’espérais justement écrire un livre qui non seulement racontait mais aussi pouvait inspirer ceux qui cherchent à créer une France à son aise avec son passé et son présent, et donc son futur. C’est particulièrement urgent aujourd’hui, je pense. Merci d’avoir écris, et bon courage !
Je viens de finir votre livre “Soccer Empire”. Oserais-je dire que ce livre est beau ?
La facon dont vous entrelacez l’histoire de la France et du football est simplement fascinante. Moults details que je ne savais point par exemple que le FLN avait utilise le football comme un moyen de propagande politique a ete pour moi revelateur de ce que l’equipe de France essaye de faire.
Vous m’avez rendu conscient des luttes intestines de notre pays et des revendations civiques pour une france plus representatif des apports culturels provenant de ses diverses conquetes.
Merci encore pour ce livre de toute beaute, vous avez egaye ma semaine et m’avez encore rendu plus fier d’etre francais que jamais. Je suis heureux de voir que je suis dans une longue lignee de personnes qui souhaitent creer une France plus acccueilante, plus republicaine, plus France en somme.
Have read your excellent blog/site for a while and would like to suggest our latest documentary effort The Referee that premiered this last June on Swedish Television and will be shown at various film festivals this autumn. Should you have time and interest it would be nice to hear what you think.
Freedom From Choice AB
Hello Mattias! I’m sorry it has taken so long, but I just now was able to watch the video, which I really enjoyed. Wonderful work: really humanizes the much-maligned referee. I will post about it on my blog soon! Thanks for sharing this with me.
Thank you very, very much for your kind response and comments about our short documentary portrait. I hope a few more will have the chance to see the film and enjoy it for what it is… as football/soccer in general and its refereeing in particular usually don’t attract the more civilized sides of neither human existence nor behavior. Should we pass Durham at any point we may drop by as my wife’s an architect (and documentary producer/sound recorder – labour of love, huh?) and your campus surely seem a extraordinary feat in that regard. I wish you all the best at Duke University.
By: Mattias Löw. on October 14, 2010 at 1:30 pm
Thanks, Stephanie: My apologies for taking so long to reply. I’m glad you enjoyed the pod-casts and hope you enjoyed the books.
I am avid listener to the podcast, “how we got here.” I had the pleasure to hear both interviews with you on the topics of Haiti and the world cup and simply wanted to say thank you for sharing your insight, wisdom and enthusiasm for both topics. You are clearly very knowledgeable on both subjects, coupled with genuine humility makes you all the more enjoyable to learn from. I can’t wait to read Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France.
Thanks for your message, Brad. I first got interested in Haiti as an undergraduate in the late 1980s, first mainly out of concern (indeed disgust) at the racist attitudes and representations towards them in the U.S. I had a number of amazing teachers at Princeton, where I got my B.A. (including Barbara Browning, James Boon, Cornel West, Toni Morrison, and visiting scholars such as Joan (now Colin) Dayan, Richard and Sally Price, and J. Lorand Matory, who all inspired me in working on the Caribbean, about which I wrote a junior paper and then a thesis. From there, my interests expanded and evolved when I went to graduate school at the University of Michigan. I described this process and how it led to my first book, A Colony of Citizens, in 2005 an interview here: http://hnn.us/articles/18642.html.
My thesis advisor at Michigan was anthropologist Fernando Coronil (now at CUNY), and another key mentor was historian Rebecca Scott. I was also much influenced by Julius Scott as well as the other members of my committee: Ann Stoler, Ruth Behar, and Simon Gikandi.
As for my new book, I think it actually represents much less of a break than it might seem: indeed, it’s a kind of return to contemporary issues that have long interested me, and shaped my work in A Colony of Citizens, about race, citizenship, and empire in France. It focuses a great deal on the Caribbean (a region in which many of France’s best footballers have their roots), but does also expand my work to include more on Algeria, West and Central Africa, and even New Caledonia! So while the object of analysis is of course rather different, in many ways the work is deeply connected to what I have done before.
I am a new Phd student at the University of Texas at Arlington, and I am doing a biography of you for our “set-up” section for class before we read your book, “Avengers of the New World” in Dr. Garrigus’ graduate course, Revolutions and Transformations. I am wondering if you can provide me with any meaningful information about yourself that could help me explain why and how you got into the studies that you did. Also, who was your mentor in graduate school and how did you come to work with him/her. I have your C.V. but it does not say who your adviser was for your dissertation. Thank you so much for providing me with any information about yourself that you can muster in short notice (my presentation is on Monday). Sorry if this seems strange, and I understand if you are too busy to respond, in which case I would simply say thank you for a detailed webpage and your book is wonderful so far (I have only read the first two chapters). Thank you for your work and I cannot wait to read your next book (How did you become interested in that topic, by the way. It seems like a very strong break from your previous works).
By: Brad Borougerdi on October 23, 2009 at 2:43 am