Trouillot - Haiti: State Against Nation

Special Issue on Michel-Rolph Trouillot: Journal of Haitian Studies CFP

Trouillot - Haiti: State Against NationIn homage to Michel-Rolph Truouillot, brilliant anthropologist and mentor we lost in 2012, posting a special issue call for papers from the Journal of Haitian Studies. For more on Trouillot see In Memoriam, Michel-Rolph Trouillot, 1949-2012 and links to Trouillot bibliography.

I often wonder what Trouillot would say about the present moment of Marshall Sahlins, Napoleon Chagnon, and Jared Diamond. During my graduate school training at Johns Hopkins, I can’t ever remember Trouillot discussing Diamond or Chagnon. Jared Diamond had not burst on the scene as world historian–the key effort seemed to still be to develop the more nuanced understanding provided by Eric Wolf, Europe and the People Without History. Chagnon’s ahistorical research seemed so misguided it didn’t even seem worth discussing.

Nevertheless, Trouillot did point to a field that could open up if anthropologists abandon the term culture, while holding fast to the concept. For Trouillot the concept of culture as learned, patterned behavior was solid and necessary, but the term had gone “out of orbit” and was too much of a shortcut:

Abandoning the word “culture” would free practitioners from within all the subfields of the discipline, and enhance dialogue between sociocultural anthropologists, archaeologists, and especially biological anthropologists. Biological anthropologists would not have to find “culture” in the behavior of humans or other primates. Rather, they would have to specify the role of biology in patterning particular instances of cognition, volition, and activity among the groups–human or otherwise–that they study, and detail the degree to which symbolic constructions inform these patterns. Debates would turn on specifics, not on generalities. Anthropologists will undoubtedly find that those specifics can open new discussions by providing links across disciplinary boundaries. (Global Transformations: Anthropology and the Modern World 2003:116)

At a time when the debates seem to be swinging into wild generalities–at least in the media depictions–this call for debates on the specific patterning of biology and symbolic constructions is more necessary than ever.

CALL FOR PAPERS: Special Issue on Michel-Rolph Trouillot

The editors of the Journal of Haitian Studies seek essays that reflect on or build upon the work of Haitian scholar Michel-Rolph Trouillot (1949-2012). In analyses that combined anthropology, economics, and history, Trouillot’s work addressed the relationship between historicity and power, the epistemology of social sciences, and the historical evolution of Caribbean peoples. Contributors may want to consider the following topics:

  • Assessing Trouillot’s legacy to the field of anthropology vis-à-vis Haitian Studies.
  • Trouillot as a public intellectual and the politics of scholarship in Kreyòl.
  • Tracing the connections and convergences between Trouillot and other Francophone and Caribbean thinkers, particularly in regard to the project of colonization and post-colonization.
  • Capitalizing on Trouillot’s work in order to explain post-earthquake conditions in Haiti.
  • Extending Trouillot’s comparative approach to Haitian history, not just to the Holocaust and the Alamo as Trouillot does in Silencing the Past, but to other historical contexts as well.

However, contributors are free to take up any aspect of Trouillot’s work as they see fit. Essays should be 5,000-10,000 words and should follow the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. We are also interested in shorter, more self-reflexive and meditative pieces. Please submit your essay, cover sheet, and 150-word abstract to Queries should be directed to Claudine Michel or Adam Kaiserman at
Submit articles by April 15, 2013.

Appel à contributions pour un numéro spécial sur Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Les éditeurs de la revue Journal of Haitian Studies sollicitent des essais s’inspirant du ou se basant sur le travail du chercheur haïtien Michel-Rolph Trouillot (1949-2012). Dans des analyses combinant anthropologie, sciences économiques et histoire, le travail de Trouillot interpelle la relation qui existe entre l’historicité et le pouvoir, l’épistémologie des sciences sociales et l’évolution historique des peuples caribéens. Les contributeurs peuvent intervenir sur les sujets suivants:

  • Une évaluation du legs de Trouillot à la discipline de l’anthropologie par rapport aux études haïtiennes.
  • Trouillot en tant qu’intellectuel publique et les enjeux des travaux de recherche en créole.
  • Tracer les liens et les convergences entre Trouillot et d’autres penseurs francophones et caribéens, surtout par rapport aux projets de colonisation et de post-colonisation.
  • Utiliser le travail de Trouillot pour expliquer les conditions du post-séisme en Haïti.
  • Étendre l’approche comparative à l’histoire haïtienne de Trouillot, pas seulement à la Shoa et à l’Alamo comme le fait Trouillot dans Silencing the Past, mais à d’autres contextes historiques aussi.

Cependant, les contributeurs restent libres d’interpeller n’importe quel aspect du travail de Trouillot.

Les articles devraient être entre 5,000 et 10,000 mots de longueur et doivent suivre le Chicago Manual of Style, 16ème édition. Nous sommes aussi intéressés par des textes méditatifs plus courts. Vous êtes priés de soumettre votre article, page de couverture, et un résumé de 150 mots à Adressez d’éventuelles questions à Patrick Bellegarde-Smith ( ou Nadève Ménard (

Le délai de soumission est le 15 avril 2013.

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