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Haiti: 200 Years Later


In commemoration of the 200th Anniversary of Haitian independence, the Ph.D. Program in French organized a series of events ranging from colloquiums and symposiums on cultural, literary and political topics, to artistic performances with Haitian actors specially invited for this occasion.

On April 23, we started with a symposium entitled “Cultural Encounters in the Caribbean: Cuba, Haiti, Santo Domingo”, co-organized with the Ph.D. Program in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures, and with the participation of Maximilien Laroche, from Université Laval, Silvio Torres-Saillant, from Syracuse University, Roberto González Echevarría, from Yale University, and The Graduate Center’s Distinguished Professor Edouard Glissant. This symposium was the first of a series of colloquia dedicated to exploring the parallel and often intersecting ways in which French and Spanish cultures have exported themselves and participated in projects of expansion. In this symposium, the participating scholars examined a common area of interest, the Caribbean, and the concepts of exchange, contact and interface between the French-speaking and the Spanish-speaking worlds.

On April 30, another colloquium took place, this time focused specifically on Haiti’s current situation. Titled “Haiti: 200 years later”, the colloquium included the participation of J. Michael Dash, from New York University, Carole Charles, from CUNY’s Baruch College, Daniel Simidor, from Initiative 2004, and Haitian playwright and actor Syto Cave and Révérend François Anick Joseph.

The Association of Haitian and Francophone Studies of York College hosted its First International Conference on Haiti that took place on April 16 and 17, 2004. The conference which was held in celebration of the Bicentennial of Haitian Independence, was entitled “1804-2004: From Slavery to Globalization”. The event featured many noted scholars and internationally recognized writers from Haiti, from across the US and Canada, as well as from France and Italy. During the ten sessions held, topics such as Haitian literature, linguistics, history, culture, identity, health and immigration were analyzed and discussed. Professors Serrano and François are director and co-director of the Association of Haitian and Francophone Studies of York College.

Finally, on May 7, we held the presentation of Hommage à Toto Bissainthe et Hervé Denis, (see below) a spectacle specially intended for that evening and which consisted of an adaptation of text and music and a theatrical performance by Syto Cavé. In the first performance, titled Voisins Complices, participated Syto Cavé, Murat (Jean-Baptiste Milord), Pierre Brisson and Boulot Valcourt, while in the second, Kavalye Polka, participated Max Kénol and Eddy Guerrier.