All posts by Laurent Dubois

I am Marcello Lotti Professor of Romance Studies and History at Duke University. A specialist on the history and culture of France and the Caribbean, notably Haiti, I am the author of Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France. I founded the Soccer Politics blog in the Fall of 2009 as part of a Duke University course called "World Cup and World Politics," whose students helped me develop the site.

The Banlieue Insurrection of 2005

This week and next we’ll be reading about the 2005 banlieue insurrection in France. The SSRC dossier on these events provides a set of excellent articles. I particularly recommend the articles by Silverstein and Tetrault and Olivier Roy. In French, in addition to the articles by Merklen and Begag available to students on Blackboard, there is an extensive and remarkable dossier of writings which you can download as a pdf here (warning: it’s 300 pages!). Among the best pieces there is an article by Philippe Bernard, originally published in Le Monde, which describes what he calls the “provocation coloniale” of the government’s response, and which provides an important overview of how the colonial past was made present during this period.

Can you find other materials relating to the 2005 insurrection?

Faiza Guene

When she published Kiffe-kiffe demain in 2004, Faiza Guene was 19 years old. The book became a sensation in France. At the INA website, you can watch a short news segment about here aired at the time as well as a segment from a 2004 talk show in which guests discussed the book. (These sometimes take a little while to load, so be patient!). You can see a more recent interview with her, from 2008 when her second book came out, here.

Please share any other videos, reviews, radio programs or commentaries about the novel here.

Haiti Lab Meeting for Undergraduates March 26

information meeting for undergraduates on research & other opportunities

Download Flyer

Monday, April 26
12:00 PM
Multicultural Center
(Lower Level, Bryan Center)

* lunch provided *

See & share on facebook:

What is the “Haiti Lab”? In Fall 2010, the Franklin Humanities Institute (FHI) at Duke will launch its first 3-year “humanities laboratory,” a “Haiti lab” that builds on these developments and seeks to speed Haiti’s recovery by applying innovative research and practice across disciplines that include Caribbean studies, Creole studies, global health, law and virtual informatics. The Haiti lab will provide a space where experts in Haitian culture, history and language can work with scholars from other areas of the humanities and social sciences, along with legal specialists, experts in engineering and technology, medical practitioners, librarians, archivists and other interested experts, to develop plans to contribute to Haiti’s reconstruction. The lab will help produce books, articles, web resources and pedagogical materials — notably including those in and about Haitian Creole — that help expand Haitian studies in both the United States and Haiti. It also will serve as a resource for media outlets seeking to learn about Haiti.

Graduate and undergraduate students will be able to use the lab to pursue individual and collaborative research projects and to interact with lab members and visitors.  Come to this meeting to find out how you can get involved!

The lab’s co-directors are professors Deborah Jenson (Romance Studies; Duke Kreyol course blog) and Laurent Dubois (History/Romance Studies; Global France course blog). They are joined by two core faculty affiliates, Guy-Uriel Charles (Law) and Kathy Walmer (Global Health; Family Health Ministries website).

For more information about ongoing research projects on Haiti at Duke, visit:

Questions? email

The Blue Devils Are French!

When we moved here a few years ago and went to our first basketball game, my young son asked me, reasonably enough: “Why are we cheering for a devil?” So in homage to our beloved “Blue Devils,” in the wake of a nice night of fire and revelry, here’s the interesting story about how the name came to be. It’s actually the name for a celebrated unit of French troops, the Chasseurs Alpins, who were named “Blue” because of the color of their uniforms and “devils” because of the ferocity of their fighting. During World War I, a group of them toured the United States, and were celebrated — they were hugged (as you can see below), sung about, and clearly left a mark on some early Dukies.

You can read more details about this history at this excellent page at the Duke Library website.

Here’s an excerpt from a French newspaper describing their visit to the U.S.:

On “God’s Bits of Wood”

To help you in your reading of “Gods Bits of Wood,” here are two pages that provide a summary and introduction to the novel.

Click here for an English page from Western Michigan University

Click here for a good French discussion of the novel.

You have already seen some of Ousmane’s work as a filmmaker in the selections from
“Camp de Thiaroye,” and you can find clips from several of his moves in Youtube. Here is a short video homage to him and his work:

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If any of you come across interesting online material about the novel or its author, please share them as a comment to this post.

Haitian Declaration of Independence

Yesterday there was amazingly widespread coverage a recent find by Duke University graduate student Julia Gaffield of a printed version of the Haitian Declaration of Independence. The find was covered in local papers, NY Times, and literally hundreds of other venues: something rather rare for historians! I am lucky enough to be her dissertation advisor here at Duke. Congratulations, Julia!

Here is the New York Times article, by an excellent journalist Damien Cave who has done important coverage in Haiti since the earthquake, which launched the media blitz.

Among my favorite pieces is this bit from none other than Rachel Maddow, who ends the segment in a great way.

A particularly good article on the story was printed in Canada in the Globe and Mail with a nice gloss on the declaration by Deborah Jenson.

Julia also did a great interview on BBC’s “The World.”

Liberty or Death!!