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The Deconstruction of Conflicting Maroon Narratives

Posted 03/28/2017
Submitted by Brian Skelly
Category: Campus Announcements

Join us at this week’s Philosophy Club meeting Thursday, March 16th from 12:15 to 1:45 in 421 Auerbach Hall as University of Hartford visiting professors Ines Rivera Prosdocimi and Dominick Rolle of the A & S English Department discuss the phenomenon of conflicting historical narratives regarding maroons (see attachment) - societies formed by escaped slaves - taking up especially the case of the island of Hispaniola, home to both Haiti and The Dominican Republic.

 In Ines’s own words: Hispaniola’s story is often told through the fatal-conflict narrative which reduces Haitian-Dominican relations to an unending cockfight. This narrative paints the Dominican Republic and Haiti as two nations (1) fated to be foreign archenemies; (2) destined to be in total conflict; and (3) whose fight for Hispaniola is fatal and for the preservation of their respective cultures. My short presentation affirms that an exploration of the maroon in literature can be a means to challenging the fatal-conflict narrative and acknowledging the too-often-repressed historical, political, and cultural connections between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. My method of tracing the maroon in literature is influenced by Cedric Robinson’s examination and tracking of the Black Radical Tradition (i.e. the evolving resistance of African people to oppression). The Black Radical Tradition challenges the fatal-conflict narrative and disturbs the Dominican state because it acknowledges a shared history of resistance, cross pollination, and moments of collaboration between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Additionally, it changes the way the island has been conceived by the Dominican letrado (i.e. writers from the post-independence period). My presentation extends and contributes to existing scholarship by uncovering instances of cooperation and/or collaboration that suggest alternative views of the island and complicate contemporary political and social realities in the Dominican Republic. I focus on Manuel Rueda’s Las metamorfosis de Makandal (1998), where François Makandal is a protean figure that undoes the fatal-conflict model, and an agent of change that anchors the island in the Black Radical Tradition. In Rueda’s text the maroon becomes a shared figure of resistance between Hispaniola’s two nations. Rueda implores us to the see the maroon as a central figure in the story of the island, as well as a figure of aesthetic possibilities and boundless exploration, challenging the hegemonic conception of freedom. Importantly, Rueda creates a cosmic Makandal, unhindered by racial or gender constructs, by space or time, embodying all those elements within and surrounding the island.

 Ines P. Rivera Prosdocimi is a Jackie McLean Fellow at the University of Hartford and a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Maryland. She specializes in twentieth and twenty-first century Caribbean and Caribbean American literature.  In addition to creating new scholarship on the maroon figure in Hispaniola and teaching literature and writing, Ines is a poet. She has published creative writing in Alaska Quarterly Review; Bellevue Literary Review; Nimrod; Puerto de Sol; The Caribbean Writer; and Witness. Black Lawrence Press has selected her book, Love Letter to an Afterlife, for publication in May of 2018.

Dominick Rolle is a Jackie Mclean Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of English. Prior to arriving at the University of Hartford, he served as one of the Provost's Predoctoral Fellows for Excellence Through Diversity, based in the Department of Africana Studies, at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his Ph.D. in English and African Diasporic literature from Emory University where he also taught a multiple award-winning undergraduate course which interrogated intimate partner violence against women. Emory's "Men Stopping Violence Course" and internship opportunity was a community-engaged learning course pipeline which challenged undergraduates to interrogate male intimate partner violence against women from practical and theoretical perspectives. Additionally, his teaching interests include courses in twentieth-century African Diasporic literature and online education. At the University of Hartford, Dominick enjoys teaching courses in twentieth century African Diasporic literature while contributing to important diversity initiatives more broadly. A distinguished U.S. Navy veteran, Dominick is also a former regional veteran peer support specialist for the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program and he previously served as a youth counselor for the city of Charlottesville, VA from 2008-2010.

 The University of Hartford Philosophy Club meets every Thursday during Fall and Spring Semesters - with the exception of the first Thursday of each semester - from 12:15 to 1:45 in 421 Auerbach Hall on the campus of the University of Hartford. The Club has an informal, jovial atmosphere. It is a place where students, professors, and people from the community at large meet as peers Sometimes presentations are given, followed by discussion. Other times, topics are hashed out by the whole group.

Presenters may be students, professors, or people from the community. Anyone can offer to present a topic. The mode of presentation may be as formal or informal as the presenter chooses. Bring friends. Suggest topics and activities. Take over the club! It belongs to you! Food and drink are served. Come and go as you wish.

For more information, contact Brian Skelly at or 413-642-0334.



Maroons and Marronage
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