October 29 & 30, 2015
Convened by Dasha A. Chapman
Postdoctoral Associate, African and African American Studies, Duke University
What are the politics, the poetics, and the performativities of a queer Haiti? In what ways are gender and sexuality being lived and fought for in Haiti today, and what are their genealogies and histories? How do Haitian forms of embodied power speak of formations of race, law, empire, capital, violence, freedom, religion and social norms? What are Haitian modes of imaginative, collective, performative responses to strictures on bodily life? And how can we think these relationally in terms of trans-Caribbean, trans-American realities?
“Nou mache ansanm (We walk together): Performance, Gender and Sexuality in Haiti” will gather together leading scholars of gender and sexuality in Haitian studies alongside Haitian artists and the Duke community to generate a dialogue around the role of performance as lens and practice with respect to Haitian genders, sexualities and queer lifeworlds. Through this focused two-day symposium we will imagine together ways of doing scholarship that takes seriously both the quotidian and the creative aspects of Haitian bodily life, while at the same time engage with critical thought that is black, feminist, trans, and queer.
This transdisciplinary conference is inspired by the recent energies around queer Caribbean lives and aesthetics in academic, scholarly, and artistic spaces, and aims to develop a Haiti-specific dialogue that can coexist alongside such initiatives. Convening at Duke University in the days leading up to Fet Gede, we will respond to the call of the Gedes (the dancing spirits of the dead) to dwell in gendered/sexualized expression in order to interrogate and celebrate the very realness of lived experience, the proximity of life to death, the necessary yet playful labor of remembering, and the need to expose truth for the sake of justice.
Events include a keynote lecture by Natasha Omise’eke Tinsley (UTAustin), performance and artist talk by Lenelle Moïse, photo exhibition, and presentations by Elizabeth McAlister (Wesleyan), Erin Durban-Albrecht (Illinois State University), alongside a number of Duke scholars.
In conjunction with the symposium’s scholarly panels and presentations, an exhibition of Josué Azor’s Noctambles series—photographs documenting queer nightlife in Port-au-Prince—will open at the Frederic Jameson Gallery on Duke’s east campus Thursday October 29. The symposium will commence Thursday evening at the gallery with presentations by exhibition co-curator Mario LaMothe, Women’s Studies Sexualities Postdoctoral Associate, and photographer Josué Azor.
Sponsored by Duke’s African and African American Studies Department, the FHI John Hope Franklin Afro-Diasporic Humanities Legacies series, the Forum for Scholars and Publics, the Program in Women’s Studies, the Haiti Lab, Romance Studies and Center for Documentary Studies.