“’The Haitian Turn,’ from 2012 to 2022: A New Critical Assessment of the Most Recent Literature on the Haitian Revolution”

“’The Haitian Turn,’ from 2012 to 2022: A New Critical Assessment of the Most Recent Literature on the Haitian Revolution”

The Haitian Revolution was a watershed moment in the triumph of human emancipation and human rights in global history. It was also a memorable event that has changed the slave culture and reversed colonial powers in the Atlantic world. In fact, the Haitian Revolution gave birth to a new people and new citizens, and a new land: the nation of Haiti. It continues to prompt contemporary ideas and actions about the colonial and postcolonial order, political sovereignty and interventions, as well as contemporary writings about the phenomenon of slavery, oppression, and human freedom.

In 2010 when I was writing the prospectus for my doctoral dissertation at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), I coined the phrase “The Haitian Turn” to describe the diasporic buzz Haiti’s national history and the Haitian Revolution had created in the (African) Atlantic world; in particular, I was interested on the influence of revolutionary Haiti in the birth of Black internationalism and Africana literary and intellectual traditions in the twentieth-century. I also coined another phrase “Black Transnational Consciousness (BTC)” (as a conceptual model) to explain the theoretical framework and the historical discourse of The Haitian Turn in the African Atlantic. In fact, my PhD dissertation is entitled “’The Haitian Turn:’ Haiti, the Black Atlantic, and Black Transnational Consciousness” (2012). My PhD is in Literary Studies with concentrations in African American Literature, African American Intellectual History, and Caribbean Culture and Literature. Interestingly, my brilliant and patient doctoral supervisor, Dr. Tim Redman, advised me to publish my analytical assessment on the literature of the Haitian Revolution and stated that I should use the captivating term “The Haitian Turn” in the title of my peer-reviewed article. I listened to my advisor and published the article with the suggested title:
“’The Haitian Turn’: An Appraisal of Recent Literary and Historiographical Works on the Haitian Revolution,” The Journal of Pan African Studies, 5:6 (September 2012):37-55. This essay would become my most cited article in the academic world.

Five years later, in 2017, I decided to go back to the idea of “Black Transnational Consciousness (BTC)” and wrote a follow-up article that needed to be read in conjunction with the one I previously published on “The Haitian Turn.” Hence, I submitted the article to Vanguard, a bilingual academic journal, to be published. I was fortunate the editor has accepted it with minor revisions. The article was published simultaneously in both English and Spanish languages, bearing the fowling titles:

“Beyond Ethnic Blackness: Black Transnational Consciousness (BTC) and the Practice of Black Intertextuality” (English Version), Vanguard / vol. 1(1) / 2017 /43-68.

“Más Allá de la Negrura Étnica: La Conciencia Transnacional Negra y la Práctica de la Intertextualidad Negra (Spanish Version), Vanguardia/ vol. 1(1) / 2017 /44-70.

Perhaps, I should have mentioned the following statement at the beginning of the post to serve as a preface. By training, I am a literary historian and theologian. Some of my research interests include Theological anthropology and ethics, Liberation and Political theologies, Haitian literature and the Haitian Revolution, and the religious sensibilities of the Haitian people and people of African descent. As an intellectual historian, I examine, for example, Black epistemologies and the intellectual traditions of both Francophone and Anglophone worlds of the African Atlantic. Because of my interdisciplinary interest, I always try to stay current on the emerging literature of the Haitian Revolution in North America and among the English-speaking people. Since the publication of my article, “’The Haitian Turn’: An Appraisal of Recent Literary and Historiographical Works on the Haitian Revolution,” in 2012, there have been more than two dozen well-researched and excellent books published in the English language on the Haitian Revolution and its impact in world history.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of The Haitian Turn (the referenced article above) and to keep students of the Haitian Revolution current on the most recent published texts (books, not articles) in the English language on the Haitian Revolution, in 2022, I will publish the sequel to The Haitian Turn. The Year 2022 will also be the tenth-year anniversary since I earned my first PhD. The new article will be an analytical evaluation and critical review of some two dozen major books on the Haitian Revolution. In this post, I would like to share with you the titles of these texts to be analyzed in the article. Translation works from French to English are marked by an asterisk. A few texts below are not specialized studies on the Haitian Revolution, but they are significant enough to be examined as they engage directly the politics, ideas, events, and actors of the Haitian Revolution.

  1. *The Infamous Rosalie by Évelyne Trouillot, translated by Marjorie Attignol Salvodon (University of Nebraska Press, 2013)
  2. Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2014) by Ada Ferrer
  3. The Haitian Revolution: A Documentary History (Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2014) by David Geggus
  4. Tropics of Haiti: Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1789-1865 (Liverpool University Press, 2015) by Marlene L. Daut
  5. Confronting Black Jacobins: The U.S., the Haitian Revolution, and the Origins of the Dominican Republic (Monthly Review Press, 2015) by Gerald Horne
  6. Haitian Connections in the Atlantic World: Recognition after Revolution (The University of North Carolina Press, 2015) by Julia Gaffield
  7. *Toussaint Louverture: A Revolutionary Life (Basic Books, 2016) by Philippe Girard
  8. The Haitian Declaration of Independence: Creation, Context, and Legacy (University of Virginia Press, 2016) edited by Julia Gaffield
  9. An Islandwide Struggle for Freedom: Revolution, Emancipation, and Reenslavement in Hispaniola, 1789-1809 (University of North Carolina Press, 2016) by Graham T. Nessler
  10. The Memoir of General Toussaint Louverture (Oxford University Press, 2017) by Toussaint Louverture, translated and edited by Philippe R. Girard
  11. The Black Jacobins Reader (Duke University Press, 2017) edited by Charles Forsdick and Christian Høgsbjerg
  12. Baron de Vastey and the Origins of Black Atlantic Humanism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017 by Marlene L. Daut
  13. Toussaint Louverture: A Black Jacobin in the Age of Revolutions (Pluto Press, 2017) by Charles Forsdick and Christian Hogsbjerg
  14. *Dance on the Volcano (Archipelago, 2017) by Marie Vieux-Chauvet, translated by Kaiama L Glover
  15. Philanthropy and Race in the Haitian Revolution (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018) by Erica R. Johnson
  16. The Common Wind: Afro-American Currents in the Age of the Haitian Revolution (Verso Books, 2018) by Julius S. Scott
  17. Maroon Nation: A History of Revolutionary Haiti (Yale University Press, 2019) by Johnhenry Gonzalez
  18. Making The Black Jacobins: C. L. R. James and the Drama of History (Duke University Press, 2019) by Rachel Douglas
  19. Rethinking the Haitian Revolution: Slavery, Independence, and the Struggle for Recognition (‎Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2019) by Alex Dupuy
  20. Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020) by Sudhir Harvesting
  21. Slave Revolt on Screen: The Haitian Revolution in Film and Video Games (University Press of Mississippi, 2021) by Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall
  22. Rituals, Runaways, and the Haitian Revolution: Collective Action in the African Diaspora (Cambridge University Press, 2021) by Crystal Nicole Eddins
  23. Stirring the Pot of Haitian History (Liverpool University Press, 2021) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot, translated by Mariana F. Past and Benjamin Hebblethwaite
  24. Haitian Revolutionary Fictions: An Anthology (will be published by the University of Virginia Press on January 25, 2022) edited by Marlene L. Daut, Grégory Pierrot, and Marion C. Rohrleitner

• In the new article, I am interested to investigate what new ideas and archival materials about the Haitian Revolution have these new texts/authors introduced to the discipline of history and the field of Haitian Studies.
• I am also concerned about the hermeneutics of the Haitian Revolution and its corresponding social and political events in the Atlantic world (1789-1803). For example, have these books shed new light about the rapport of the Haitian Revolution and the French and American Revolutions, as well as the political governments of Saint-Domingue, England, the United States, Spain, and France?
• In addition to their autonomous thoughts and colonial intellectual climate in the American continent, what contemporary intellectual currents have shaped the abolitionist ideas and political interventions of the actors—both men and women—of the Haitian Revolution?
• What place does gender play when we study the French colony of Saint-Domingue and the Haitian Revolution from the perspective of women? Does any of these texts engage the political ideas and actions of Women of the Haitian Revolution?
• What have these new texts inform us more about the religious, socio-economic, cultural, racial, and political order of Saint-Domingue and the Haitian Revolution?

*Please leave me a comment below if you have any recommended important texts, written in English in the past ten years (2012-2022), you would like me to assess in the article).

Happy reading!

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