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Wendy Hill
Creole Institute

Last modified: Thursday, November 5, 2009

21st annual Haitian Studies Association conference to take place at IU Bloomington

Nov. 5, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Haitian Studies Association's 21st annual conference will take place Nov. 12-14 at Indiana University Bloomington. The theme of the conference is "New Ecologies: Actualizing Global Contributions and Development in Haiti," and all sessions are free and open to the public.

Albert Valdman

Albert Valdman will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Haitian Studies Association at the association's 21st annual conference at IU Bloomington.

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HSA is an interdisciplinary organization that promotes research on Haiti to foster a better understanding of Haitian culture and its social, economic and political conditions.

In addition to scholars from around the world, many IU offices and schools will be represented at the HSA conference.

IU Provost and Executive Vice President Karen Hanson will speak an opening reception, as will Bradley Levinson, director of IU's Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and Guerda Nicolas, HSA president.

The conference will feature a keynote speech by Glenn Smucker, a cultural anthropologist specializing in practical applications of anthropology to human problems, and plenary sessions on Haitian scholarship, grassroots ecologies and language ecology, among others. Plenary speakers are Tatiana Wah, Michael Dash, Claudine Michel, Serge Madhere, Flore Zéphir, Jennie Smith, Gina Ulysse, Albert Valdman, Robert Chaudenson and Suze Mathieu. (To read their expanded biographies, see All.pdf.)

Smucker has conducted field work in Haiti, Rwanda and Laos and has acted as a consultant in applied anthropology in Rwanda and various countries of the Caribbean. He has directed major programs in reforestation and natural resource management, including Pwoje Pyebwa, a large-scale farm forestry project of the Pan American Development Foundation in Haiti, and the Rwanda Natural Resource Management Project including protection of the Parc des Volcans, the traditional habitat of mountain gorillas in northwestern Rwanda.

He is the primary author of a book on Haitian peasant organizations, Organisations Paysannes: Tendances et Implications (1998), and major policy studies on the Haitian environment including "Environmental Vulnerability in Haiti" (2007) and "Environmental Risks and Opportunities in Haiti: A Background Analysis" (2007), in response to a directive of the U.S. Congress.

During the conference, a Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence will be presented to Albert Valdman, IU Rudy Professor Emeritus of French, Italian and Linguistics and director of the Indiana University Creole Institute. The HSA award will be presented by Flore Zéphir, a native of Haiti and an IU Bloomington alumna whose dissertation was directed by Valdman, during a ceremony at the Neal Marshall Black Culture Center.

Valdman has taught at Harvard, the University of the West Indies and the University of Nice. At IU, he has served as chair of the Department of Linguistics and directed the basic French program, as well as three summer institutes for Haitian Creole bilingual teachers. He has been the recipient of Guggenheim, NATO-NSF, Fulbright and Senior Fulbright Research fellowships, has an honorary doctorate from the University of Neuchâtel and in 2008 was received into the Ordre des francophones d'Amérique by the government of the Quebec Province in Canada for his work to foster an increased understanding of the use of the French language in North America.

Valdman's research and professional interests span a broad range of areas in applied and descriptive linguistics, including second language acquisition research, foreign language teaching, pidgin and Creole studies and French linguistics. He is founder and editor of the journal Studies in Second Language Acquisition (Cambridge University Press).

Valdman served as secretary-treasurer of the American Association for Applied Linguistics, as president of the International Association of Applied Linguistics and of the American Association of Teachers of French and as vice-president of the Comité international des études créoles.

Conference highlights

Keynote address, Glenn Smucker, "Ecological Disaster, Peasant Livelihoods and Haitian cities." 9-10:30 a.m., Nov. 13, Whittenberger Auditorium in the Indiana Memorial Union. The keynote address will be preceded by comments from Valdman, Nicolas and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Bennett Bertenthal.

"Learning in the Diasporic Context." 10:45 a.m.-noon, Nov. 13, Walnut Room in the Indiana Memorial Union. This session will be chaired by Charlene Désir (Nova Southeastern University). Panelists include Lilia Santiague (Nova Southeastern University); Frenand Léger (The College/University of the Bahamas); and Benjamin Hebblethwaite (University of Florida). Concurrently offered in the Oak Room is Poverty: Politics and Stability in Haiti, chaired by François Pierre Louis (CUNY Queens College). Panelists are Patrick Sylvain (Brown University) and Zobeida Bonilla and Fernando F. Ona, both from IU.

"Unresolved Issues of Linguistic Variations in Haiti." 1:30-2:45 p.m., Nov. 13, Sassafras Room in the Indiana Memorial Union. This session will be chaired by Anne-José Villeneuve (IU Bloomington) and features panelists Valdman, Jason Siegel (IU Bloomington) and Marky Jean-Pierre (University of Massachusetts-Amherst).

"Haiti's Political Economy: The Domestic and External Nexus." 1:15-2:30 p.m., Nov. 14, Frangipani Room in the Indiana Memorial Union. Taking part in this round-table discussion are Alex Dupuy (Wesleyan University); Robert Fatton (University of Virginia); Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow Robert Maguire (Trinity College). The discussion will focus on Haitian politics and the forthcoming elections, the economic program as developed by the recent Collier report and Obama/Clinton's Haitian policy.

The Haitian Studies Association conference is sponsored by the Creole Institute and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies with support from Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President; Office of the Vice President for International Affairs; College of Arts and Science; College Arts and Humanities Institute; Department of French and Italian (Barr-Koon Fund); Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies; Creole Institute; School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER); School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA); Department of Linguistics; Department of Political Science; and the Department of Second Language Studies.

The Haitian Studies Association (HSA)
The Haitian Studies Association promotes research on Haiti and Haitians, identifies and disseminates information on Haiti, and maintains an international network of experts on Haitian issues. The association is hosted by the Haitian Studies Project in the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. For more information and a complete conference schedule, see

The Creole Institute
The Creole Institute at Indiana University is recognized as the only center in the United States that is equipped to deal in depth with applied linguistic issues related to Haitian Creole and Haiti. It specializes in research and training in the area of applied linguistics with a focus on French-based Creoles and American varieties of French. IU was the first institution of higher learning in the world to offer formal instruction in Haitian Creole, in 1964. With funding from the Department of Education (Title VI), the institute has developed the basic materials for learning that language. These materials, the Basic Course in Haitian Creole (1970) and Ann Pale Kreyòl (1988), have been used by most Americans who wish to acquire a working competence in the language. For more information about the IU Creole Institute, see