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Haitian Studies Association plans conference at ND

| Wednesday, November 5, 2014

web_haitian studies conference_11-6-2014SAM COUGHLIN
Notre Dame will expand its borders this weekend when it hosts the 26th annual conference for the Haitian Studies Association. The conference includes various events aimed to exhibit Haitian culture and the country’s current situation. Several faculty, staff and alumni will attend the conference, and students are invited to attend.

Co-sponsored by 14 different campus groups, including the Center for Social Concerns and the Snite Museum of Art, the conference is being brought to campus by the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. Notre Dame applied to host the conference in 2011 because of its long relationship with Haiti as well as its strong international studies programs. The conference previously has been hosted at universities in cities such as Boston, Bloomington and Montréal.

The conference will feature 13 different panel presentations by Notre Dame faculty and students on both Friday and Saturday. Topics cover a wide range of subjects, from the Dynamics of Health to Politics and Development to Solutions to Vulnerability.

Another interesting aspect of the weekend is an exposition of solutions to the housing crisis in Haiti. Notre Dame engineers created the project Engineering2Empower, and they dedicate themselves to “breaking the cycle of aid dependence and vulnerability” in Haiti. Over the course of the weekend, E2E will host tours of prototypical innovative housing models on the outskirts of campus — replicas of actual houses built in Léogâne, Haiti. The houses are brightly colored and designed to withstand hurricanes and earthquakes.

The conference includes several cultural events, including art and photo exhibits and movie showings. The main art exhibit includes pieces by Haitian artist Georges Liautaud, an artist famous for his metal sculptures. There will also be Drapo Vodou art, which comes from the Haitian region of Vodou and has both African and European roots (specifically, “drapo” comes from the French word for flag, “drapeau”). The collection includes several Vodou flags dating to the 60s and 70s.

There are two film screenings in conjunction with the conference. On Thursday, the 2012 film “Assistance Mortelle” (“Fatal Assistance”) will show at 7 p.m. at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. Originally produced in French and Haitian Creole, the film will play with English subtitles. It is a heart-wrenching documentary that depicts Haiti post-earthquake. The second film, “Deported,” speaks of deportation in Haiti caused by U.S. policy and will be playing at the Snite Museum of Art. Both will inform viewers of serious yet neglected issues.

Finally, the conference held a photo contest throughout campus to depict modern-day Haiti. Because the theme of the conference is “Migration, Crossing Boundaries, Paths Forward,” the contest focused on these ideas. The winners are featured in the Great Hall of Hesburgh Center.

Thursday features pre-conference events including receptions and talks, while panel discussions begin Friday and continue through the weekend. For more information, please visit kellogg.nd.edu/hsa.

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