Haiti: Fact vs. Fiction with Dr. Courtney Pierre Joseph

Haiti: Fact vs. Fiction with Dr. Courtney Pierre Joseph


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Haiti is the first independent Black nation in the Western Hemisphere, born out of the first successful slave rebellion. Yet, most of what is known about Haiti is about poverty and instability. This lecture will investigate the facts and fictions of this small and mighty country.

In 1804, Haiti declared itself independent after a thirteen-year struggle for freedom against the French. This historic event led to the first Black independent nation in the Western Hemisphere. Yet, what most people know about Haiti is negative, if they know anything at all. For example, Haiti is known as the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere, a country with a lot of political instability, and the site of the worst earthquake in 2010. How did this imbalance in knowledge occur?

The aim of this seminar is to look at the facts and fiction, the history and myths of Haiti. Beginning with the life of the Indigenous people of the island, the Taino, this presentation will provide an overview of Haitian history through present-day calls for freedom.

Led by an expert on Haitian history, Dr. Courtney Pierre Joseph, this interactive seminar will introduce the evolution of Haiti, separating facts from fiction. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of this intriguing country that they may want to add to their travel list.

Courtney Pierre Joseph is an Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies at Lake Forest College. Her specializations are in African American history and culture, Haiti and its diaspora, women and gender studies, and hip hop culture. Joseph earned her PhD in History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2017. She has spoken at numerous institutions, including the DuSable Museum of African American History, and at various events, including the fall 2020 Chicago Humanities Festival. Dr. Joseph is currently working on her first book, tentatively titled DuSable’s Diaspora: Haiti, Blackness, and Belonging in Chicago.

Not suitable for children under age 13 (sensitive content).

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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