Exile and Post-1946 Haitian Literature: Alexis, Depestre, Ollivier, Laferriaere, Danticat

Exile and Post-1946 Haitian Literature: Alexis, Depestre, Ollivier, Laferriaere, Danticat

Exile and Post-1946 Haitian Literature: Alexis, Depestre, Ollivier, Laferriaere, Danticat

Exile and Post-1946 Haitian Literature: Alexis, Depestre, Ollivier, Laferriaere, Danticat

Excerpt

There is a self-perpetuating circularity in much critical thinking about Haiti, its society, and its culture that goes something like this: Haiti may be a political and social catastrophe, but it has a glorious, epic history, and an endlessly creative culture, which to some extent counterbalance or compensate for daily indignities and ongoing suffering. Social and political failure and cultural success are often held in this way as antinomical poles of Haitian experience. Implicit in this kind of thinking is a lingering romantic belief that culture remains a receptacle of the “true spirit” of the revolution, and that culture may somehow be employed to bring to pass a future time of overcoming, of vindication, salvation, and redemption. Haitian culture is thus seen by critics as the means of breaking the self-perpetuating cycle, a way of fulfilling the teleological promise inscribed in anticolonial discourse, which has itself long been formulated according to what David Scott calls the “narrative mode of Romance.” History, in romantic interpretations of Haiti and in classic anticolonial works, has a plot, set themes, stock characters, and will moreover unfold according to a distinctive temporal pattern: anticolonialism projects, Scott says, “a distinctive image of the past (one cast in terms of what colonial power denied or negated) and a distinctive story about the relation between that past and the hoped-for future (one emplotted as a narrative of revolutionary overcoming).”

Perhaps more so than any other postcolonial state, Haiti has played out and laid bare the inadequacies of such a romantic vision of history. There has been in Haiti no “assured momentum from a wounded past to a future of salvation,” only an endlessly repeating present that in effect has rendered the longed-for moment of liberation a “superseded future, one of our futures past.” the circularity of critical thought – the constant recourse to cultural success as a counterpoint to social failure – is evidence not only of an enduring attachment to . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.