"Heterodox Histories" Lecture & Dinner with Robin Derby

Department: History

Date and Time: November 8, 2017 | 5:00 PM-8:00 PM

Event Location: HIB 135

Event Details

Please join us for the first talk in our "Heterodox Histories" Lecture Series. On November 8 at 5PM @ HIB 135 Dr. Derby will present her talk "Stealing the Citadelle: Icons of Nationhood and Memories and Theft in Haitian Narratives of Kout Kouto." Following the talk, we will host a community dinner in HIB 137.

PLEASE RSVP by November 1st to Samantha Engler at englers@uci.edu and specify your dietary restrictions.

This event is sponsored by the History Department, Humanities Commons, Latin American Studies, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Criminology, Law & Society and the Center for Law, Society and Culture.

About Dr. Lauren (Robin) Derby
Lauren (Robin) Derby’s area of research includes the French and Spanish Caribbean, especially the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and Puerto Rico. Her work has focused on everyday life under regimes of state terror, the long durée social history of the Haitian and Dominican borderlands, and how notions of race, national identity and witchcraft have been articulated in popular media such as rumor, food and animals. Dr. Derby is an Associate Professor of History at UCLA.

About the Talk
"Stealing the Citadelle:  Icons of Nationhood and Memories of Theft in Haitian Accounts of Kout Kouto"
An estimated 15,000 ethnic Haitians were brutally slaughtered in the frontier regions of the Dominican Republic in 1937 in an event Haitians remember as Kout Kouto (chop of the knife). Over the course of one week, Dominican troops were summoned into the borderlands where with the help of local authorities and civilian reserves, a community that had resided peacefully in the border for several generations was forcibly removed, most slaughtered by machete. While the massacre was officially explained in the Dominican Republic as the result of a bloody border skirmish between Dominican ranchers and Haitian peasants in Dajabón, through a conspiratorial lens, Haitians blamed the carnage on brutal Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo's imperial subterfuge and efforts to take over Haiti. This essay focuses on the popular narrative explaining the ethnocide commonly told by Haitians, the story that Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo sought to purchase the Citadelle Laferrière, the fortress built by Henry Christophe after the Haitian revolution, in an effort to usurp the island.  Fortunately for Haiti, the check bounced.
Unlike the popular Dominican versions of events which have not coalesced into a single narrative, this particular narrative has become canonized in Haitian popular memory, and was widely diffused among Haitian refugees who recalled the slaughter. At its core lies a "story kernel" of sovereign usurpation that has floated around since the Haitian Revolution's conclusion in 1804. I analyze here the meaning of the Citadelle in this story as a key nationalist icon, and its function as a palimpsest of the revolution; as well as how idioms of theft, currency and concealment figure in popular rumors dating back to the nineteenth century.