Unsilencing the Haitian Revolution and Refiguring Toussaint Louverture
20 November 2019, 5:30 pm–7:30 pm
How did drama and history-writing shape James’s multiple accounts of the Haitian Revolution?
This event is free.
Room 103Institute of the Americas51 Gordon SquareLondonWC1H 0PNUnited Kingdom
Unsilencing the Haitian Revolution and Refiguring Toussaint Louverture: C. L. R. James’s The Black Jacobins Flourishes Again
How did drama and history-writing shape James’s multiple accounts of the Haitian Revolution? This paper follows the revision trail of the genesis and evolution of James’s The Black Jacobins history and other Haitian Revolution-related writings, charting his evolving interest in the leadership of Toussaint Louverture against the backdrop of his Marxist political path. Building on Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s idea of the active and transitive process of “silencing the past” of the Haitian Revolution, this paper reads James’s own process of making history and drama as an equally active and transitive reverse process of unsilencing the past. How does James unsilence the past and represent the unrepresentable—all of the silences and gaps in the colonial archives, sources, and history narratives? James’s own unsilencing of certain sources and their negative representations of the Haitian Revolution is evaluated here.
About the Speaker
Dr Rachel Douglas
Dr Rachel Douglas is Lecturer in French and Comparative Literature at the University of Glasgow. Her book The Making of The Black Jacobins: The Drama of C.L.R. James’s History came out with Duke University Press in September 2019. She is also the author of Frankétienne and Rewriting: A Work in Progress (Lexington Books, 2009). She works on Caribbean literature, history and film with a focus on Haiti.