Arousing Freedoms: Re-Imagining the Haitian Revolution through Sensuous Marronage
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Arousing Freedoms: Re-Imagining the Haitian Revolution through Sensuous Marronage


Arousing Freedoms: Re-Imagining the Haitian Revolution through Sensuous Marronage, deploys a Black feminist and queerly diasporic approach to dismantle colonial, masculinist and militaristic discourses that have become concomitant with narratives of the renowned Haitian Revolution. This research project is uniquely positioned within the intersections of diasporic histories of enslavement and rebellion, Black feminist gendered analyses of resistance and freedom, Black feminist discourses of racialized sexuality, Black Queer Studies, Postcolonial Literature, and studies of Afro-diasporic spirituality. Not only intervening epistemologically within these varied fields, this project also introduces an innovative methodological framework to re-imagine the Saint-Domingue rebellion. Through what I call “sensuous marronage,” I examine how embodied epistemologies absorbed through the sensorial, the spiritual and the sensual, translate into dreams, plans and tactics of Black liberation. Anchored in historic moments of the Haitian Revolution and Haitian Independence, this research project unearths the queerly diasporic revolutionary consciousness of Afro-diasporic religious rituals, alternative embodied femininities and masculinities, Black women’s labor, and sensuous practices of liberation. Indeed, beneath the surface of the Bois-Ca�man ceremony, early insurgent battles of the revolution, the implementation of French emancipation laws, and post-independence literature, reside opaque, yet ingenious formulations of Black liberation and resistance that unsettle colonial discourses of archives, modernity, time and space, gender formation and relation, and of course, freedom. In part, I assert that that the embodied mythologies of Vodou, its ritual space and its spiritual practices, constitute an alternative archival repository with the potential to re-narrate Black liberation. More specifically, I uncover the ways in which spiritual iconographies and mythologies, ritual spiritual embodiments such as possession rites and dancing, and drumming, as well as conceptions of freedom framed in the artistic and literary imagination, can serve as counter-archives. Although I do not wish to obfuscate the presence or importance of heroic male figures such as Toussaint Louverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines, nor am I trying to refute the massive importance of military organization, coalitions, and strategies, I ask what can be uncovered by paying close attention to the role of women, sexuality, sensuousness, alternative gender formations and spirituality in the arduous process of gaining freedom?

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