In the wake of earthquake of January, 2010 the country of Haiti faced an unprecedented crisis as buildings, lives, and infrastructure were destroyed on a massive scale. However, the crisis in Haiti today has deep historical roots, stretching back to a history of colonialism, slavery, and revolution in the 17th and 18th centuries. On this website, we provide information and analysis of the history of Haiti and the current situation in Haiti in a global context. The website is the creation of students at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, who are members of the honors seminar “Engaging Haiti” taught by Professor Elizabeth Maddock Dillon in the fall semester of 2011.
Haiti Net: Using the Site
Click on the links to the right to learn more about Haiti’s current situation and its history. We suggest you begin with “Key Terms: Past and Present“ to view short presentations on important topics in Haitian history that are not widely known and understood, including the history of Haitian indemnity payments to France which exacted a tremendous cost on the nation from 1825 forward, the effect of the eradication of rice tariffs in the 1980s, the eradication of the creole pig in the wake of the African swine flu outbreak, the enormous influx of NGOs in recent years, the presence of the UN mission (known as MINUSTAH), and the recent cholera outbreak following the earthquake.
Overviews of additional aspects of Haitian history (Foreign Relations, Aid, Gender, and Religion) are on separate pages, each of which contains an annotated bibliography of sources for further research. Our page “Haiti: The List” includes a variety of facts and figures about Haiti drawn from web, film, and print sources. And our “Images: Haiti in the Media” page includes analyses of visual images of Haiti seen in the media today.
We are also working to assist with education in Haiti today. Three students in our seminar, Emily Artiano, Kate Simpkins, and Mallory Utley, are leading the class in a fundraising project to purchase land for a school in Croix-des-Bouquets that began in a tent community following the earthquake. The school is now temporarily housed on leased land, and must move by June of 2012. They have found a piece of property to purchase, and we hope to help fund the purchase of land to create a permanent home for the school. We are partnering with the Ohio based non-profit group, Benches & Blackboards to raise funds and purchase the land. Please click on our land project page to learn more and/or to contribute to this effort.
Who We Are:
Elizabeth Maddock Dillon is Associate Professor of English at Northeastern University where she teaches courses in the fields of early American literature, transatlantic print culture, and Atlantic theatre and performance. She is the author of The Gender of Freedom: Fictions of Liberalism and the Literary Public Sphere (Stanford University Press, 2004) which won the Heyman Prize for Outstanding Publication in the Humanities at Yale University. She has published widely in journals on topics from aesthetics, to the novel in the early Atlantic world, to Barbary pirates. She is the co-director of the Futures of American Studies Institute at Dartmouth College and the former the chair of the American Literature Section of the Modern Language Association and. Her new book, New World Drama: Liberty, Slavery, and the Atlantic Public Sphere, 1649-1849, is forthcoming from Duke University Press and she is co-editing, with Michael Drexler, a volume of essays on early American culture and the Haitian Revolution. In March 2011, she traveled to Haiti with Ohio State University’s Haiti Empowerment Project and taught a seminar on Trauma and Narrative (together with Molly Farrell) at Universite Caraibein Port au Prince and worked with teachers in tent community schools in Croix-Des-Bouquets.
My name is Justine Fischer and I am a freshman at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. I am studying psychology and pre-medicine in the College of Science. I traveled to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and helped to provide relief efforts to those affected by the disaster. I hope to continue to help Haiti in the upcoming years and help to educate others in the community about the country of Haiti.
My name is Judy Hsu and I’m a freshman at Northeastern University. I’ve lived in New Jersey for 9 years and then moved to Taiwan to attend an American school. After the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in January 2010, my interests to help this nation has increased tremendously. I hope that after creating this website, I’m able to not only teach others about the country of Haiti, but also learn a great deal about Haiti myself.
Kate Simpkins: I’m a third-year PhD Candidate with Northeastern’s Department of English. When not attending our class, I’m studying for my Comprehensive Exams and teaching College Writing. I was in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, for a week this summer where I organized a workshop for local teachers on pedagogical methodology and best practices in the classroom. As a Graduate Assistant to the class, I hope to contribute to and explore practical and theoretical conversations on how to assist those same teachers further and hope to return next summer. My areas of academic interest are Victorian Literature, Caribbean Literature, and Modern Visual & Material Cultures.
My name is Mallory Utley. I am studying biology and am from Los Angeles, California. I have been to Haiti several times to help build and serve at the House of Hope orphanage in Cap Haitien. In my time in Haiti, I have built relationships with many children, including Rosemalinde, the girl in this picture. I hope that taking this class will help me better understand the condition of Haiti and how I may best be of service there.
My name is Puja Panchal and I am a freshman at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. I am a History major with a pre-veterinary track. I have never really been exposed to much Haitian history or culture and thus would like to learn more about it and help preserve it through the awareness this website will promote.
My name is Lena King. I am a freshman at Northeastern University, majoring in Biology. I have never been to Haiti, and I do not know much about the country’s history. I do know that they have faced a disproportionate amount of challenges and that a lot of aid has been provided, but not always to the right places. I hope that by learning more I will be able to help.
Hi! My name is Maggie Wisniewski. I was born in Savannah, but moved to and grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia. I am a biology major and premed. I care a lot about humanitarian efforts, although I never focused specifically on Haiti. I would love to learn more about it in this class.
Hi, my name is Emily Artiano. I am from San Diego, California and received my B.A. from UC Davis. I am a Ph.D. student in the English department at Northeastern University, and I’m studying early American literature and composition studies. I am particularly interested in issues of linguistic colonization in the Americas and how linguistic colonization manifests in the education systems. I am eager to learn more about how this affects the current practices in Haiti’s education system, in which students are required to use French while the majority of students speak Haitian Creole. I look forward to learning more about Haiti and exploring ways to address issues of social justice in Haiti today.
Hi, my name’s Dan McKenna. I’m a freshman Bio major at Northeastern. I was raised in New York, and have never been to Haiti. In fact, prior to the recent devastation caused by the earthquake I knew almost nothing about the country. But both of my parents dedicated years of their life to service in impoverished countries, and that is one example I’ve always wanted to follow. I’m hoping this class helps me start on a path to doing just that.
Hello my name is Marissa Reyes and I am a freshman, currently studying Chemistry at Northeastern University. The recent earthquake of 2010 made me realize the extreme state of need in Haiti. I hope that through this class I can become educated on how the turbulent history of Haiti affects their problems today, and what we can do to help support the Haitian people.
My name is Julia Piper and I am a freshman English major at Northeastern University. This course allowed me to learn about Haiti’s historical significance and cultural relationships with other countries, especially the U.S. I look forward to a better awareness of global events after learning about Haiti’s struggles and crises.
I’m Elliott Memmi and I am a Freshman at Northeastern University. While I have been acquainted with Haitians and the Haitian problem for many years now, I never really gave it much more thought than was asked of me in my elementary school classes. Even though I regularly read news from all over the world and love history, it just never seemed to come on to the radar…until now! Other facts about me are that I am completely fluent in English and French, I am a founding member of Terrascope Youth Radio, an environmentally focused news group created in 2008 (which I left in 2009), and I will probably help to provide some French sources and interpretation for this site. Enjoy!
Hi. My name is Ahmed Sajjad and I am an undeclared freshman at Northeastern University. I was born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan. The Haitian earthquake made me realize how much in need the Haitians were. After some research, I developed an interest in Haitian culture and politics and wanted to learn more. This class was a perfect opportunity for me to understand Haitian culture and find ways to help the Haitians in their time of need.