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Kaiama L. Glover
Kaiama L. Glover
Associate Professor of French, Barnard College
Africa in the Americas: Haiti in the 'Western' Imagination
Africa in the Americas: Haiti in the 'Western' Imagination
Since the January 2010 earthquake, Haiti has been presented on the world stage as a space of degradation and misery. But did this consistent denigration of Haiti in the global imagination begin only four short years ago? Professor Glover argues that damning representations of Haiti have been circulating for far longer than that - and that these negative images are connected to the idea of the island nation's "backward," "African" character. How did Haiti's image become so deeply determined by discourses of pity and stigmatization that reach all the way back to 1804? In her talk, Professor Glover suggests that the answer to this question can be found by looking closely at the narratives of difference and the language and imagery of disaster that link Haiti to Africa. She brings together concepts from the fields of critical media science, trauma studies, and psychoanalysis, so as to consider the uncanny commonalities between constructions of Haiti and of sub-Saharan Africa in the international media. In so doing, Glover will explain why, in the end, longstanding "First World" perceptions of the poor, black, body end up making true humanist empathy near-impossible.
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Bio
Kaiama L. Glover is an Associate Professor in the French Department and the Africana Studies Department at Barnard College, Columbia University. Her research focuses on the literature and culture of the French-speaking Americas and her most recent book is titled Haiti Unbound: A Spiralist Challenge to the Postcolonial Canon (Liverpool UP 2010). Kaiama is co-founder of the Transnational and Transcolonial Caribbean Studies Research Group, an editorial board member of Small Axe since 2012 and The Romanic Review since 2002, a regular contributor to the New York Times Book Review, and the newly selected host of PBS show History Detectives: Special Investigations.