I Look for Other Worlds’: The Art of Haitian Feminism
Thu, April 29th, 2021
7:00 pm - 8:15 pm
This talk is based on Régine Michelle Jean-Charles’s forthcoming book, Looking for Other Worlds: Black Feminism, Literary Ethics, and Haitian Fiction, a Black feminist analysis of novels by Yanick Lahens, Kettly Mars, and Evelyne Trouillot. Jean-Charles places these three contemporary authors in conversation with a range of Black feminist intellectuals from different contexts as to explore their ethical imagination. Each of these writers asks us to summon our own imaginations and open our minds to pose ethical questions about how the lived experience of ordinary Haitian people is shaped by race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, and more. Situating Lahens, Mars, and Trouillot in the lineage of trailblazing feminist author, actor, and activist Paulette Poujol-Oriol (1926-2011) for whom literature creates a space for ethical reflection, Jean-Charles argues that there is a Black feminist ethic animating contemporary Haitian fiction. Rooted in a Black feminist ethic—a way of being in the world that functions not only as a method, but also as an affirming narrative that foregrounds life, abundance, and multiplicity—Looking for Other Worlds attests to multiple narratives being imagined and created in which ways of looking lay the foundation for shifting paradigms and changing perspectives.
Régine Michelle Jean-Charles is currently the W. Ford Schumann Visiting Professor in Democratic Studies at Williams College. She is an Associate Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and African and African Diaspora Studies at Boston College. She holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, and an AM and PhD from Harvard University. She has received fellowships from the Mellon Mays Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Virginia. Her first book, Conflict Bodies: The Politics of Rape Representation in the Francophone Imaginary (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2014) examines theoretical, visual, and literary texts in order to challenge the dominant views of sexual violence. She has authored over 30 publications that have appeared in books, edited volumes, and peer-reviewed journals. Her second book Looking for Other Worlds: Black Feminisms, Literary Ethics, and Haitian Fiction is currently under contract with University of Virginia Press.
Much of Dr. Jean-Charles’s activist work has been with A Long Walk Home, where she began as founding board member in 2003. A Long Walk Home, Inc., is a non-profit organization that uses art to educate, inspire, and mobilize young people to end violence against girls and women. Her involvement in ALWH ranged from performing in Story of a Rape Survivor, a multi-media arts performance about black women and sexual assault, conducting workshops for the Girl/Friends Leadership Institute in Chicago, to giving lectures at universities across the country on topics such as study abroad and sexual assault.
Dr. Jean-Charles is also a regular contributor to media outlets like The Boston Globe, WGBH, America Magazine, and Cognoscenti, where she has weighed in on topics including #metoo and issues affecting the Haitian diaspora. This talk is sponsored by the W. Ford Schumann ’50 Program in Democratic Studies. ‘
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