In the northern mountains of the Republic of Haiti, there is an old palace called Sans Souci that many urbanites and neighbouring peasants revere as one of the most important historical monuments of their country. The palace — what remains of it — stands on a small elevation between the higher hills surrounding the town of Milot. it is impressive if only because of its size — or what one can now guess to have been its size. It was built to instill a long lasting deference, and it still does. One does not stumble upon these ruins; they are both too remote and too often mentioned within Haiti for the encounter to be fully accidental. Anyone who comes here, enticed by the posters of Haiti’s Departement du Tourisme or by one or another narrative of glory, is at least vaguely familiar with Haiti’s record and assumes history to be dormant within these crumbling walls. Anyone who comes here knows that this huge dwelling was built in the early nineteenth century, for a black king, by blacks barely out of slavery. Thus the traveler is soon caught between the senese of desolation taht molds Sans Souci’s present and a furtive awareness of bygone glory. There is so little here to see and so much to infer. Anyone who comes here comes too late, after a climax of which little has been preserved, yet early enough to dare imagine what it might have been.
Michel-Rolph Trouillot, from “The Three Faces of San Souci,” Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995)
Michel-Rolph Trouillot, scholar of the Caribbean, 1949-2012.
Colin Dayan, “Remembering Michel-Rolph Trouillot,” Boston Review (2012)
Laurent DuBois, “Eloge pour Michel-Rolph Trouillot,” Transition (2012) $
David Scott, “The Futures of Michel-Rolph Trouillot,” Small Axe (2012) $