U.Va. to Host Major Conference on Haiti

September 29, 2006

Sept. 29, 2006 -- For three days in October, the Grounds will take on a Caribbean flavor as the University of Virginia hosts the 18th Annual Haitian Studies Association Conference from Oct. 5-7.

The conference, “Toward A Haitian Renaissance: Exploring New Paradigms and Building on Haiti's Strengths to Reconstruct the Nation,” focuses on many aspects of Haitian life. Along with art exhibits and musical performances, scholars from U.Va. and throughout the Western Hemisphere will discuss the culture, politics and economic development of Haiti in a series of lectures and panel discussions.

“The panels cover a broad spectrum from AIDS to literature to politics,” said Robert Fatton, the Julia Allen Cooper Professor of Politics, a nationally respected scholar on Haiti and host of this year’s conference. “The conference is truly multidisciplinary and people should find something that resonates with their respective interests.”

Opening the conference will be an exhibit titled “Breaking from Tradition: A Show of Contemporary Haitian Art.” The exhibit, organized by the Wah Gallery of Gaithersburg, Md., will be held at the art space in Newcomb Hall and will feature paintings from nine contemporary Haitian artists. The exhibit will be open through Saturday, Oct. 7.

The plenary address, “The Dilemma of Haitian Democracy,” will be given by leading Haitian intellectual Laennec Hurbon, of the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, at 9:30 a.m. Friday in the auditorium of the Harrison Institute / Small Special Collections Library.

Yves Joseph, a founding member of Tabou Combo, arguably the most popular Haitian musical band of the past 30 years, will speak at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Harrison Institute / Small Special Collections Library about "The Evolution of Konpa," the dominant musical mode in Haiti for the past 40 years.  He will provide illustrations and sounds through video and audio. Konpa is for both listening and dancing. 

On Saturday, Dr. Jean W. Pape, a world-renowned physician dealing with the AIDS crisis in Haiti, will speak at 9 a.m. on “Confronting AIDS in Haiti: A Story of Resilience and Hope,” in the auditorium of the Harrison Institute / Small Special Collections Library.

At 2:45 p.m. on Saturday, Fatton will chair a panel discussion, “Preval Redux: Pyrrhic Victory or New Beginning?” at the auditorium of the Harrison Institute / Small Special Collections Library.
“This panel should attract anyone interested in Haiti, problems of development, processes of democratization, and the consequences of foreign intervention,” said Fatton, who noted that problems in Haiti affect the United States. “In the past 20 years, there have been two U.S. interventions in Haiti.”

The conference is sponsored by the Carter G. Woodson Institute for Afro-American and African Studies, Center for Global Health, Center for the Study of Race and Law, Corcoran Department of History, Department of Anthropology, Department of English, Department of French Language and Literature, Department of Religious Studies, McIntire Department of Art, Carl H. and Martha S. Lindner Center for Art History, Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, Office of Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity, Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement, Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs and Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics.

Other sponsors include Africana Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston; Foundation Hope for Haiti, Inc.; Office of the President at Massachusetts Bay Community College; Virginia Foundation for the Humanities; and Wah Gallery.

The conference is free and open to the public, with the exception of an invitation-only dinner.

For more information, please visit: http://www.haitianstudies.umb.edu/