Dr. Marlene Daut
This is one of my all-time favorite episodes. Even my 15-year-old, who has absolutely no interest (yet) in Haitian history, told me she enjoyed hearing Dr. Marlene Daut on the show. “Daddy, this lady sounds really smart!” I told her she was.
It’s the passion Dr. Daut brings to her subject. You’ll hear that in her voice. Her scholarship is world-class, undisputed, and foundational. She is the best of us.
For this episode, she focuses on the influential life and works of the Haitian political writer and statesman, Baron de Vastey (1781-1820). Dr. Marlene L. Daut examines the legacy of Vastey’s extensive writings as a form of what she calls black Atlantic humanism, a discourse devoted to attacking the enlightenment foundations of colonialism.
Why does colonialism have to be attacked? Well, the answer is kinda obvious if looked at through our modern eyes and sensibilities. However, for Baron de Vastey to talk about the evils of colonialism in the early 1800s, during the most profitable period of slavery, took courage and was unique and unprecedented at the time, especially since it came from the first African descended nation in the modern world.
You’ll hear Marlene Daut argue that Baron de Vastey, the most important secretary of Haiti’s King Henry Christophe, was a pioneer in a tradition of deconstructing colonial racism and colonial slavery that is much more closely associated with twentieth-century writers like W.E.B. Du Bois, Frantz Fanon, and Aimé Césaire.
By expertly forging exciting new historical and theoretical connections among Vastey and these later twentieth-century writers, as well as eighteenth- and nineteenth-century black Atlantic authors, such as Phillis Wheatley, Olaudah Equiano, William Wells Brown, and Harriet Jacobs, Prof. Daut proves that any understanding of the genesis of Afro-diasporic thought must include Haiti’s Baron de Vastey.
Baron de Vastey —Noel Colombel —Haiti’s Isolation —Regeneration —Haiti’s Kingdom vs. Haiti the Republic —Edouard Glissant’s Theory of Opacity —The Unmediated Agency of Early Haitian Writings —Black Atlantic Humanism —Earliest formulations of what would later become CRT