University of Central Lancashire, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 2HE
The Rasanblaj Fanm conference marks the 10th anniversary of the Institute for Black Atlantic Research and 220 years of Haitian independence.
Haitian women are regarded as the poto mitan (central pillar) of Haitian society. As caregivers, warriors, healers, artisans, traders, cultivators, manbos, storytellers, companions and agitators, they have been vital agents in shaping the fortunes of Haiti’s revolutionary anticolonial encounters and its quest for sovereignty and legitimation as an independent state. However, this term of veneration conceals diverse forms of political, social and discursive exclusion that women in Haiti and across the dyaspora confront in the present, and the myriad forms of silence and neglect to which they have been subjected in the historical record.
The little that we know of the women whose courage, ferocity, resilience and generosity paved a course for independence, postcolonial statehood and the universal and permanent abolition of slavery in 1804 is often shrouded in mythology, which, as Colin Dayan has highlighted, “not only erases these women but forestalls our turning to [their] real lives.” Moreover, these legendary “sheroes” of Haiti’s past have often been exploited for the sake of political opportunity, symbolically deployed in the service of nationalist sleights of hand which obscure the precarity, insecurity, exploitation and vulnerability of Haitian women in the present. Piecing together the scattered fragments produced by the violence and ruptures of the colonialist archive and the continuing violence, neglect and co-optation of the dominant political oligarchy necessitates a form of rasanblaj, or (re)assembly, a practice advocated by Gina Athena Ulysse which “demands that we consider and confront the limited scope of segregated frameworks to explore what remains excluded in this landscape that is scorched yet full of life, riddled with inequities and dangerous and haunting memories.” Through rasanblaj, multiple modalities and disciplinary perspectives offer pathways of intersection.
“Rasanblaj Fanm” will bring together academics, community organisers, and creative practitioners from across the Haitian dyaspora, Europe, and the US during a three-day conference at the University of Central Lancashire. A radically transnational, interdisciplinary, collaborative, anticolonial and feminist endeavour, it invites opportunities for participants to (re)assemble narratives, theorisations, performances, mobilisations and representations of Haitian womanhood, past, present and future.
This event will be partly sponsored by the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC), the Leverhulme Trust and the British Association of American Studies.
Booking information coming soon