Teach-In looked back on Haiti before earthquake and ahead to its future

As fourth-year Adama Wiltshire prepared to speak at the Feb. 9 Teach-In On Haiti, she hoped it would do more than raise money for survivors of last month's deadly earthquake.

"Haiti has been ignored by everybody in the Western Hemisphere for decades," said Wiltshire, a native of Trinidad. "We have to find a way to help Haiti move beyond this."

The Teach-In, organized by the Center for the Study of Race Politics and Culture, the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, and the Center for Latin American Studies, and co-sponsored by UChicago for Haiti and the Reproduction of Race & Racial Ideologies Workshop, took place in the community lounge at 5710 S. Woodlawn. Organizers set up a panel discussion and a question-and-answer session, offering attendees a chance to learn more about the economic, political and cultural issues that shaped the lives of Haitians before their island was struck by disaster on Jan. 12.

Among the featured panelists for the evening was Greg Beckett, Assistant Professor and Harper Fellow in the Social Sciences Division. In his research, Beckett focuses on "the relationship between the material destruction of Haiti's landscape and a politics of mourning that imagines the 'end' or 'death' of Haiti as a viable nation-state." The January earthquake "is clearly emerging to be one of the significant disasters in modern history," Beckett said.

Other experts who participated in the event were Melvin Butler, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology in Music and the College; Daniel Desormeaux, Associate Professor in Romance Languages & Literatures and the College, and a Haiti native; Rachel Jean Baptiste, Assistant Professor of African History; Toussaint Lossier, PhD candidate in History and a representative of R.I.S.A.; W. L. Balan-Gaubert, Haitian activist and scholar, and a representative of the Global Health Initiative at the University Medical Center.