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Marlene Daut in conversation with Julia Gaffield

January 4 @ 7:00 pm

City Lights together with the American Historical Association and University of North Carolina Press present

Marlene Daut in conversation with Julia Gaffield

celebrating the publication of

Awakening the Ashes: An Intellectual History of the Haitian Revolution

by Marlene Daut

published by University of North Carolina Press

The Haitian Revolution was a powerful blow against colonialism and slavery, and as its thinkers and fighters blazed the path to universal freedom, they forced anticolonial, antislavery, and antiracist ideals into modern political grammar. The first state in the Americas to permanently abolish slavery, outlaw color prejudice, and forbid colonialism, Haitians established their nation in a hostile Atlantic World. Slavery was ubiquitous throughout the rest of the Americas and foreign nations and empires repeatedly attacked Haitian sovereignty. Yet Haitian writers and politicians successfully defended their independence while planting the ideological roots of egalitarian statehood.

In Awakening the Ashes, Marlene L. Daut situates famous and lesser-known eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Haitian revolutionaries, pamphleteers, and political thinkers within the global history of ideas, showing how their systems of knowledge and interpretation took center stage in the Age of Revolutions. While modern understandings of freedom and equality are often linked to the French Declaration of the Rights of Man or the US Declaration of Independence, Daut argues that the more immediate reference should be to what she calls the 1804 Principle that no human being should ever again be colonized or enslaved, an idea promulgated by the Haitians who, against all odds, upended French empire.

Marlene L. Daut is professor of French and African American studies at Yale University. Her published work includes Baron de Vastey and the Origins of Black Atlantic Humanism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) and Tropics of Haiti: Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1789–1865 (Liverpool University Press, 2015). She is also co-editor (with Grégory Pierrot and Marion Rohrleitner) of the volume, Haitian Revolutionary Fictions: An Anthology (UVA Press 2022). She is Series editor for New World Studies, University of Virginia Press and Section co-editor for Global Black History series at Public Books. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times; The Nation; Essence Magazine; Harper’s Bazaar; Avidly: A Channel of the LA Review of Books; The Conversation; and Public Books, among others. Her peer-reviewed articles can be found in journals such as, New Literary History, archipelagos, Small Axe, Nineteenth-Century Literature, Comparative Literature, Studies in Romanticism, and more.

Julia Gaffield is an historian, writer, and associate professor of history at the College of William & Mary. She is the author of Haitian Connections in the Atlantic World: Recognition after Revolution published by the University of North Carolina Press. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Globe and Mail (Canada), and The Times (London.) She has been interviewed by the BBC World Service, PRI’s The World, and CBC’s As it Happens.

The American Historical Association promotes historical work and the importance of historical thinking in public life. Incorporated by Congress in 1889, its mission to enhance the work of historians also encompasses professional standards and ethics, innovative scholarship and teaching, academic freedom, and international collaboration. As the largest membership association of professional historians in the world (over 11,000 members), the AHA serves historians in a wide variety of professions, and represents every historical era and geographical area.

This event is made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation. To learn more visit: https://citylights.com/foundation/


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