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African Diaspora Newsletter No.9

   Network Professors' Reports

Mariza de Carvalho Soares
Professor of Brazilian colonial History and slavery at Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil
and network professor at the Harriet Tubman Resource Centre on the African Diaspora.

From October 7 to 22 2002, I went to Haiti with the support of the Tubman Centre. The objective of the trip was to survey the possibility of developing different modalities of research, and also supporting some local projects related to slavery and the African Diaspora, according to the priorities established by the Harriet Tubman Resource Centre on the African Diaspora. During this time I had the immeasurable help of Thorald Burnham, Ph.D. candidate from York.
The present social and political situation in Haiti is extremely difficult and unstable. Everyday life is difficult as well. However, this fact should not prevent the Tubman Centre from developing innovative ways of cooperating with Haitians and the institutions that house important private collections of documents related to African slavery in America and Atlantic Diaspora. During my stay in Port-au-Prince I met with many people and visited some of these institutions.
The Bibliotèque de la Congrégation des Pères du Saint-Esprit houses a rare collection of documents about Haitian history in general, and Haitian slavery in particular. The Tubman Centre is already in contact with them to develop some projects for digitalizing the collection and help them get international support for the archive.

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Another very important project there is being directed by Marianne Trouillot who is gathering funds to build a Museum to house her huge personal collection of Vodou, including the more than 2000 objects she has collected during the 40 years she has lived in Haiti, since immigrating from Switzerland. This is an extremely important project that has good financial possibilities because of the international appeal of this kind of collection. Once organized, the collection could be presented in the Museum itself and also in other places around the world, as a traveling exhibitionl.

Department of History, York University,  Toronto, Canada
Email: nigerian@yorku.ca
Fax: (416) 650-8173