Renowned scholar to speak about Haiti

Renowned scholar J. Michael Dash, professor of francophone literature and director of Africana Studies at New York University, will share his celebrated knowledge of Haiti in a lecture entitled “The Disappearing Island: Haiti, History and the Hemisphere,” on Saturday, March 20, at 7:30pm in Vari Hall Lecture Room A.

Left: J. Michael Dash

In recognition of Haiti’s Independence Bicentennial this year, the 2004 Jagan and Baptista Lecture will commemorate this historic rebellion of the oppressed, celebrate Haiti’s contributions to world culture and seek to provide a historic context within which to better understand current events. In his talk, Dash will provide his reflections on this country and its significance on the global scene.

The lecture is a joint event, constituting the Fifth Annual Jagan Lecture which commemorates the life and vision of the late Cheddi Jagan, Caribbean thinker, politician and political visionary; and the Third Bi-annual Baptista Lecture which is named in honour of Michael Baptista. The event is co-organized by York’s Centre for Research on Latin America & the Caribbean, Latin American & Caribbean Studies program, York International and the Jagan Lectures Planning Committee.

Background to Haiti

A news release about the lecture says the following: Ongoing political turmoil has catapulted Haiti into the international spotlight in recent weeks. Outside of such explosive moments, though, this island nation has remained largely invisible to international perception. Its remarkable and instructive history, however, has much to teach us.

Haiti has suffered more than 30 coups d’état in its 200-year existence. It was occupied by the US marines for 19 years and suffered decades of dictatorship under US client regimes during the last century. It is the poorest country in the hemisphere, and is now confronted with humanitarian crisis, social and political chaos and another US occupation.

In its epic birth as a nation, however, Haiti epitomized the universal human will toward freedom. It became the second sovereign nation in the Americas and the first black republic in 1804, when its people, in the only successful slave rebellion in history, defeated French colonial rule.

More about J. Michael Dash

Dash, born in Trinidad, has worked extensively on Haitian literature and French Caribbean writers. Before taking up his current position at New York University, he spent 21 years at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica, where he was professor of francophone literature and Chair of the Modern Languages Program.

Right: One of Dash’s books

For more information about the event, contact CERLAC at or ext. 88705, or visit the CERLAC Web page.