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Spanish and Portuguese



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Latin American Literary Review


Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s first book, Ti difé boulé sou istoua Ayiti [Stirring the Pot of Haitian History] (1977), exposes the foundational role of Haitian Vodou and the Kreyòl language in Haiti’s Revolution (1791-1804). The unprecedented victory achieved by the enslaved people in the former French colony of Saint Domingue was a useful paradigm for subsequent Latin American independence movements, starting with Simón Bolívar’s liberation of Venezuela (1811-19). This essay analyzes selected passages from Ti difé boulé that explicitly incorporate Vodou songs, prayers, and terminology to show how Trouillot provocatively deploys oral sources of historical narrative and memory. The young activist, writing in Haitian Kreyòl from New York City during the darkest days of the Duvalier régime, powerfully contests official versions of Haitian history by emphasizing the Haitian people’s agency. Vodou and Kreyòl, born out of struggle within a repressive colonial framework, are the great coherencies underlying Haitian resistance. Ti difé boulé examines neocolonial patterns of oppression emerging during the nineteenth century and critiques revolutionary icon Toussaint Louverture, revealing how Haiti’s predatory State harnessed Vodou to continue systematically subjugating the Haitian people. Trouillot’s innovative yet understudied masterpiece offers contemporary readers “new narratives” of Haiti. As twin pillars of Haitian resistance and cultural identity, Vodou and Kreyòl remain a vital and vibrant part of the American heritage. They merit more nuanced understandings within a cultural and political context where they have increasingly come under siege, inside and outside of Haiti.


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