Jean Price-Mars and the project of Nation-Building in Haiti (Part I)
So I finished writing the 3rd chapter of my forthcoming book on Jean Price-Mars.
I’m currently working on the final chapter. It’s on the intersection of modernity’s racial imagination, Christianity’s contribution to it, and Price-Mars’ liberative ideas to remedy the crisis of human condition in modernity. Price-Mars presents the Haitian Revolution (its symbolic meaning as both a product of Western modernity and an alternative African modernity in the New World) and the founding of the “Black Republic” of Haiti as a double event and as the fulfillment of what Jonathan Israel calls “radical modernity” and what I call “Haitian modernity” (See my PhD dissertation, “The Haitian Turn: Haiti, the Black Atlantic, and Black Transnational Consciousness,” The University of Texas at Dallas, and my book, “Haitian Modernity and Liberative Interruption” (UPA, 2013)). In 2011, while writing my doctoral dissertation at UTD, I coined the phrase ” black transnational consciousness” (BTC) which revolutionary Haiti symbolizes, to explain the project of Haitian modernity and the new radical humanism Haitian revolutionaries had created in the Western world.
Few scholars and thinkers–both Haitians and Non-Haitians- have grasped Price-Mars’s cultural and intellectual project for Haiti and the Black Diaspora.
Price-Mars has inaugurated a new (black) epistemology and radically alternative way to (re-) “build” or reconstruct the nation of Haiti and reconceptualize the black experience in the Black Diaspora.
So far, in contemporary Haitian scholarship and Africana studies, I have encountered three scholars– Paul Camy Mocombe, Glodel Mezilas, Patrick Delices, Jhon Byron ( some of these perspectives on Price-Mars are stronger than others. I’m still waiting on Jean Eddy Saint Paul’s anticipated work on Price-Mars.) who have grasped what Price-Mars wanted to do in regard to what I call the ” Price-Marsian inaugurated black epistemology.”
It’s time to reread Price-Mars intelligently, responsibly, ethically, critically, and with care, conviction, and passion. If you want to understand the contemporary crisis of Haitian intellectuals and Haitian civil and political society, read Price-Mars. If you want to contribute to societal renewal and transformation in contemporary Haitian society and improve the lives of the underclass and the marginalized, read Price-Mars. You must go/read beyond his classic work, ” Ainsi parla l’Oncle” (1928). His ideas are interdisciplinary, cross-disciplinary, and comprehensive.
Why Price-Mars Wrote: Toward Nation-Building
The whole of the Price-Marsian project was “to build” a new Haitian society and an alternative humanism rooted in these seven pillars: Africa, community, women, family, Haitian politics, education and equality of Haitian masses and peasants, religion. These ideological reasons explain why Price-Mars wrote whatever he has written about the Haitian people and the nation of Haiti.
1. Ancestral Affiliation and Identity: the reclaiming and acknowledgement of Africa’s indebtedness to Haiti. Africa has given Haiti its dominant religion and the legacy of strong and flourishing pre-colonial civilizations.
2. The ethics and practice of Communitarianism and Kombitism
3. The Haitian intellectual as servant leader and activist for the people.
4. Haitian Politics as a catalyst to foster national unity, cultural growth, and prosperity.
5. The education and equality of Haitian masses and peasants as imperative factors contributing to social development and human flourishing in Haiti.
6. The recognition of Haitian Women as the “cement” of Haitian society and as the “trait-d’union” (“hypen”) between the Haitian family and Haitian civil and political society.
7. The role of religion as a unifying force in society.