Genealogy of Bois Caïman Textual Sources

Deeps > Representing Bois Caïman > Genealogy of Bois Caïman Textual Sources

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This page is a starting point from which to explore some of the significant textual representations of Bois Caïman (Bwa Kayiman). The event by its secretive and mysterious nature eludes the official criteria for solid historicity. What we have are not primary sources then but textual representations, some more “official” than others. The four pages linked to this main page will allow you to explore these sources, some with links to a digitized form of the text. 
Early Accounts of Bois Caïman 
Of the early textual representations, there are generally four text understood to have utilized unique sources connected to the actual event. The first was Antoine Dalmas who wrote his account in 1793-94 but it was published in 1814. The second was Herard Dumesle writing in 1824. The third was Celigny Ardouin, whose work was published posthumously by his brother, Beaubrun, in 1840. And the fourth was Etienne Charlier, who discovered connections to the event in historic family documents. From these sources a number of other earlier representations drew for their material, though each also added something new and significant within the Bois Caïman tradition.
20th Century Textual Accounts
In the 20th century, significant representations continued to be produced by historians reconstructing the events of the Haitian Revolution including the ceremony of Bois Caïman.
Debates about Bois Caïman
Significant debates have arisen regarding the historicity or Bois Caïman as well as the accuracy of particular details of the event as it has been written about and received in the wider culture. The questions include issues of dating and location of the ceremony. Further debates include questions about who actually participated in the event and the accuracy of some of the traditional speeches and ritual practices during the ceremony.
Literary Accounts, Oral Tradition, and Cultural Texts of Bois Caïman
A number of writers, anthropologists, religious practitioners, and artists have engaged the event of Bois Caïman, perceiving it as a significant cultural tradition to be further explored and represented. Multiple plays have been written about or including Bois Caïman, as well as a continuing tradition of national and religious ceremonies to commemorate the event. The conducting of local oral histories has also become significant in the continuing life of Bois Caïman in Haitian culture.   


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