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Press Release

Bard College Hosts Conference on Haiti's Past and Present

Jennifer Wai-Lan Huang
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—On Friday, March 12, Bard College will host “Beyond Silence: Meaning and Memory in the Noise of Haiti’s Present,” an all-day conference exploring the undocumented and unspoken histories of Haiti’s people and arts from before the earthquake and now in light of Haiti’s current challenges. “This conference will spotlight groundbreaking work being done by scholars, activists, and artists to push discourse in a new direction, to move beyond past and present mis-representations and silences that surround Haiti in the historical record,” says Winter Schneider ’10, Bard senior and conference organizer, who was in Port-au-Prince for research on her Senior Project in history and human rights when the earthquake struck Haiti on January 12. “In a time of crisis when the space of several seconds witnessed the leveling of almost an entire city, the question of where history is located in the absence of artifact, monument, and archive becomes even more important.” The conference is free and open to the public, no registration necessary. Panel discussions run from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The keynote address starts at 5:30 p.m. All events take place in the Sosnoff Theater of The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts.

The recent earthquake has raised the stakes for historical preservation and documenting memory in Haiti. The multidisciplinary conference will also serve to focus discussion on an upcoming community-based archiving and oral histories project within Haiti and the Haitian Diaspora. As scholarship on Haiti focuses on questions surrounding recovery and rebuilding, it is essential that Haitian voices and opinions shape that scholarship.

Conference participants include keynote speaker V. Y. Mudimbe, author of The Invention of Africa (1988), Parables and Fables (1991), The Idea of Africa (1994), and Tales of Faith (1997) among other books and articles, and professor of literature at Duke University; Ada Ferrer; Alex Dupuy; Myriam Chancy; Ninaj Raoul; Diana Lachatanere; Edna Bonhomme; and Andràs Riedlmayer.

This conference is being sponsored by the history department, Human Rights Project, President’s Office, and Chinua Achebe Center, with contributions from the Dean of Students Office, French studies department, Bard Urban Studies in New Orleans Program, Trustee Leader Scholar Program, and others. The Black Students Organization and Caribbean Students Association are sponsoring a fundraising dinner, followed by a performance by the Haitian band Bwa Kayiman, and a D.J. dance party on Friday, March 12, at 7:00 p.m. in Manor House Café. All of the proceeds will be donated to a small community organization in Haiti.

Beyond Silence: Meaning and Memory in the Noise of Haiti’s Present

Friday, March 12, 10:30 a.m.–7:00 p.m.
Sosnoff Theater, The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts
Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York

10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Panel Discussion: Haiti in History, the Atlantic, the Archives
Alex Dupuy (professor of sociology at Wesleyan University)
Ada Ferrer (associate professor of history at New York University)

12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.    
Break for lunch

1:00 p.m.–2.30 p.m.
Panel Discussion: Self-representation and Ownership of Practice
Myriam Chancy (professor of English at the University of Cincinnati and vice-president of the Association of Caribbean Women Writers & Scholars)
Ninaj Raoul (founder and director of Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees)
Diane Lachatanere (curator for Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture)

3:00 p.m.–4:30 p.m.
Panel Discussion: Narratives of Representation and Humanitarian Response: After the Earthquake
Andràs Riedlmayer (bibliographer, Harvard Fine Arts Library)
Edna Bonhomme (activist and graduate student at Columbia University)

4:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.
Break for coffee

5:30 p.m.–7:00 p.m.
Keynote Address:  Within the Silence: a Meditation
V. Y. Mudimbe (professor of literature at Duke University)


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This event was last updated on 02-25-2010