During the Caribbean Studies Association 2016 conference I met a number of brilliant young Haitian-Americans, including a 20-something Cornell PhD candidate whose project focuses on Black feminist political theory in contemporary novels by Caribbean authors. Her mother emigrated from Haiti before she was born and left the country permanently in the early aughts. I had to admit to her my ignorance of the precise details of Haitian history that motivated her mom to leave Haiti.
Clockwise from left: author Zora Neale Hurston, Hurston and her partner Percival Punter, and Haitian “zombie” photographed by Hurston during her fieldwork 1936-1937.
On the tap-tap (Port-au-Prince take on the dollar cab/combi/collectivo) from Touissaint Louverture airport yesterday, I had the good fortune of running into Prof. Daphne LaMothe of Smith College. An expert in African American literature, Prof. LaMothe shared with me that Zora Neale Hurston wrote the essential novel Their Eyes Were Watching God here in Haiti in just seven weeks.
January 1, 1804 the Haitian revolution succeeds. To learn more about Haitian history, Progressive Pupil suggests The Black Jacobins by C.L.R. James and The Uses of Haiti by Paul Farmer. What are some of the biggest misconceptions we have about Haiti today?
Manuel Couceiro Prado was a painter and the founder of the Grupo Antillano (1978-1983), a group of Cuban artists who were trying to establish the African and Caribbean context of Cuban national identity. He was radicalized against Batista in 1952 and was a founding member of the July 26th Movement.
As a post cuban revolutionary artist, Prado channels the instability of his times into his artwork. This can be seen In his work Untitled, where life like figures are exaggerated into each other, founding a feeling of insecurity.
Examine Prado’s artwork and check out the award-winning documentary Black and Cuba. The film provides much needed information on the Cuban Revolution, which has shaped and influenced Prado’s artwork. Knowledge on the Cuban revolution is vital to understanding his works of art.
Above, to the left is the oil on canvas painting “Untitled” / “Sin título” (Manuel Couceiro, Untitled / Sin título, oil on canvas, 107 x 152 cm., ca. 1970.)
To the right is the artist Manuel Couceiro Prado.