Representing Haiti

When it comes to the political efficacy and ethical obligations of digital platforms, The Public Archive: Black History in White Times has been an irresolute failure. The site was launched soon after the 12 January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. It was meant to serve as a response to the toxic efflorescence of racist representations of Haiti in the international media following the quake. These representations, of Haiti as either “a former colony of France” or as “the poorest country in the hemisphere,” were not new. Nor were the portrayals of Haiti as accursed, as irredeemably corrupted, or as the site of repeated social tragedy and political farce. What was new, however, was how these older invocations were supplemented by a steady stream of invasive and abject representations of Haitian people themselves, or, more frequently, of their maimed, mutilated, or lifeless bodies strewn amongst the rubble of Port-au-Prince—and used to produce a spectacle of black suffering and degradation that affirmed black victimization while stoking white moral righteousness…

Read more at SX Salon.

Image: Photo du passage de Vénus sur le soleil à Haïti, le 6 déc. 1882, par Eugène Marie Ferdinand Chapuis. Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Société de Géographie, SG W-13

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