This episode is compelling and thought-provoking, The Sexual Politics of Empire examines LGBTQI life in contemporary Haiti against the backdrop of American imperialism and intervention.
Evangelical Christians and members of the global LGBTQI human rights movement have vied for influence in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake. Each side accuses the other of serving foreign interests. Yet each proposes future foreign interventions on behalf of their respective causes despite the country’s traumatic past with European colonialism and American imperialism.
Listen as Dr. Durban shows how two discourses can dominate discussions of intervention. One maintains imperialist notions of a backward Haiti so riddled with cultural deficiencies that foreign supervision is necessary to overcome Haitians’ resistance to progress (sounds familiar?). The other sees Haiti as a modern but failed state that exists only through its capacity for violence, including homophobia. In the context of these competing claims, Dr. Durban explores the creative ways that same-sex desiring and gender creative Haitians contend with anti-LGBTQI violence and ongoing foreign intervention
Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:00:00]:
My wife and I often joke about colored people time. You mentioned a gay standard time. Is that a thing?
Erin Durban [00:00:09]:
Yes. I suppose. Yeah. People say gay standard time or queer standard time, And it’s interesting because people characterize that in different ways. Like, you show up when you show up. It’s often late. Sometimes when there are very early meetings scheduled for the morning at my work or Early conference presentations, I joke, and I say that’s homophobic. Like, yeah, there’s I I suppose, You know, an inside joke to just about when when people show up or what is an appropriate Time to invite queer people to gatherings.
Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:00:57]:
Here’s a little mental exercise that I think might be useful. If you had to describe the sexual politics of empire Higher in 3 words. What would they be and why?
Erin Durban [00:01:10]:
Thank you, Patrick. That is such a great Initial question. I really like that a lot. And I would say so the title of my book is the sexual politics of empire, but I’m also thinking about the sexual politics of empire as a concept. So I suppose it it’s easier for me to Describe first the concept and then a little bit about the book. So if I were using you know, doing these 3 words for The the concept, it would be let’s see. I choose imperialism, race, and sexuality as the 3 words. And, really, thinking about con you know, The sexual politics of empire in a contemporary context, it’s we we’re really thinking about, You know, how colonialism and imperialism are shaped by sexuality, and that is Broad sexuality in a broad sense.
Erin Durban [00:02:10]:
The book really focuses a lot on, you know, LGBTQ politics, Homophobia, but also that third word, race is really important in thinking about Empire and especially in this context of the United States and Haiti. And so I’m thinking about racialized sexuality, which is not always, you know, about queerness in A way where it’s about same sex sexuality. I talk a lot in the book about how European And u US representations of Haiti have shaped, they’ve they’ve really, I suppose, created Haiti as sort of perverse and Haitians as perverse in their representations. And so other Scholars have, talked about Haiti and the US imaginary or the European imaginary, But I’m thinking I’m picking up those threads, you know, about zombies and cannibals and thinking, like, what does this have to do also with sexuality –uality that isn’t always necessarily about same sex sexuality, but those those conversations are really related. So those are my 3 words. But I would say, you know, broadly, those would apply to a lot of places. And so, obviously, the context of this book is that historical relationship between the United States and Haiti in particular. So those would have to somehow be in in the mix.
Erin Durban [00:03:55]:
I’m adding I’m adding a couple extra words. For the sexual politics of empire, when I introduced it earlier with your 3 words, I Didn’t really dig into what that means for Haiti. So what I’m tracking in this book is what I call postcolonial homophobia. And postcolonial homophobia takes you know, I’m drawing on the work of a lot of scholars who have shown that After the the end of the colonial period in lots of different places That, the state or people who are involved in movements against, you know, anti colonial, That their part of anti colonial nationalisms retain a lot of the conservative sexual politics of colonizers that are homophobic. And so in this situation in Haiti, Really, what that means is thinking about, you know, from this research in Haiti that there is a form of Catholic homophobia that Essentially operates as a don’t ask, don’t tell that people are not supposed to discuss, homosexuality, their own, or other people’s, that there’s a lot of censure of around doing so. And so this, Like, this is sort of a legacy of European colonialism in Haiti that is still present. But what I’m also tracking is the influence of US imperialism. And so That can be seen really with the rise of evangelical Christianity.
Erin Durban [00:05:52]:
So part of the long trajectory of this book is thinking About how for a long time, there were just a few Protestant missionaries in Haiti before the US occupation and some who are really well known who are saying, you know, we really need to get more people here. There’s, a lot of work to be done, and then the US occupation starts. And with it, there are all these Horrific representations of Haiti to the government by the government of the United States That says, right, we’re in a war against voodoo and, then there’s all these popular representations of zombies and Cannibals and like, that inspires people to do missionary work that they hadn’t been interested in doing and and with different intentions. Right? So looking back at the records of, US, evangelicals who’ve gone to Haiti like, some of those were black churches who are really interested in an independent black nation, they were invested in respectability politics in certain ways. And so even though they were trying To go against these harmful stereotypes and representations, they also didn’t wanna be associated with Same sex sexuality. But now what happens is there’s a tremendous rise in evangelical Christianity over the late 20th century and then again after the earthquake. And that like, the reasons people convert. There’s there’s I like, this is really outside of the scope of what I do.
Erin Durban [00:07:43]:
Like, I would say I come to evangelical Christianity and researching it, not Accidentally, but not as my first priority, but just because I I have to, that it it shapes so much of people’s lives.
Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:08:06]:
I found your admission here astonishing and refreshing. Here’s what you wrote. Quote, Unlike Americans who benefited passively from a century of US imperialist ventures in Haiti, My family members and I had benefited directly, end quote.
Erin Durban [00:08:26]:
I learned in the course of doing this project and even on the way that This sort of something that, you know, made me interested in pursuing it is that everybody in my family had a little bit to say about their Time in Haiti, whether it was my grandmother in Ohio who said that she had been on a cruise to Haiti and Had something to say about just stopping there and her impressions of it, or I I learned that my dad and my uncle Had lived in Haiti for a while and started a a business there. So my dad’s side of the family, their fam the Business that they have is that they’re florists and they had greenhouses for a long time and grew flowers. And So when he was young, my dad, he and my uncle went to Haiti, and their business was Exporting Haitian baskets to florists in the United States. So it’s you know, this is a small family business, and that was a Very small enterprise that was not very long. Something I don’t talk about in the book, and I have mixed feelings about it is that uncle was invited to play tennis with baby doc. And And so I I don’t know how to make sense of that. Right? That here I am. I don’t know As a young person, I don’t know about this family history in Haiti.
Erin Durban [00:09:57]:
I’m working on this project. I didn’t know about that for a long And so I don’t wanna draw a direct relationship like families where they’re very established in Haiti and have been part of industries for a long time. This is a more fleeting kind of relationship, but I I still think that that’s really important that these white American men could go there, could Have a business could even conceive of doing that. And, Louise, that, right, that opportunity isn’t open To Haitian men and women who want to just come to the United States and, build a business. And in Talking about that relationship, that family relationship, I am in a way also talking about myself Because I’ve done this project, the what I get out of it, the benefit for me is that, You know, I have a solid career. I have a job in the academy. That’s a really hard thing to get, especially served in my generation, and I I don’t take that for granted, and that was built by this project. And So I I wanna say that, right, these relationships are Inescapable.
Erin Durban [00:11:24]:
I wanna highlight that they exist in a more direct way than other People do in their scholarship. I you know, I don’t want to always center myself. That’s why this bit about my family is not in the text button the acknowledgments, but I also I think that it’s important to say and that this Relationship is about Haiti, certainly, but also it’s about all of The different places, like, as a as a white US citizen, I am implicated in lots of different projects of US empire, whether that’s Settler colonialism here or different imperialist campaigns elsewhere. And I wanna hope that The people who read this, who haven’t thought about that very much, spend more time thinking about those relationships, and those places that they hadn’t
Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:12:23]:
What’s the current state of queer Haitian studies in the academy? What are some of your your triumphs, setbacks? Also, as you navigate your way, Through the hallowed halls of of of the, academy, to to legitimize your your lived experiences. In what ways Are your struggles inside the guild different or similar to the struggles of those outside of the guil?
Erin Durban [00:12:55]:
Thank you for asking. So what I’d say is that queer studies and Haitian studies are both Pretty small fields. And as you can probably imagine, there’s not a lot of people who are working at the intersections of those fields. When I was a graduate student, I didn’t I didn’t know very many people who were working in the field, and, there were only a handful of publications. I Sort of was more connected than I thought, I suppose, because I was I was on a panel at the 2008 Haitian Studies Association conference in Haiti with some senior scholars who were taking up questions from queer studies about performance and gender and sexuality and a lot of a lot of their work was actually in the diaspora and so was my Work at the time. I found out later that that was really the 1st panel that had been convened at patient studies on these specific topics about gender and sexuality from a queer perspective, but it wasn’t until some of my colleagues organized a symposium at Duke University in 2015. It was called, gender, sexuality, and performance in Haiti. And so these colleagues, Dasha Chapman and Mario Lemothe, They’re both in queer Haitian studies.
Erin Durban [00:14:29]:
I met Dasha through actually the, Creole Institute the Haitian Creole Institute in Boston, And I met Mario at Haitian studies, but they invited a whole bunch of people to the symposium. And that’s when It felt like suddenly it wasn’t just 1 person here, another person there, that people there was sort of a critical mass of what we could call queer Haitian studies. And that was a really important symposium because each of us in our own ways Had learned from a generation of scholars before us that it was really not welcome in Haitian studies to take up Queer questions. And I think that’s really because the Haitian studies wanted to be protective of the way That Haitians had been misrepresented and stereotyped. And so it was a it was a really, I would say, a really Hard place to take up those kinds of questions, and I think still is. That’s, you know, one of the biggest concerns about my book is navigating a really complicated field related to gender and sexuality and racism. And at that time, Mario and Dasha and I published a special issue of a journal, women in performance, with the same title, We brought together a lot of the scholars from the symposium, but also other scholars who had been working in this field and had the first Major publication in, in queer Haitian studies, and that’s where we really were starting to talk about, you know, How do we wanna refer to this field? A lot of people put off are put off by the term queer. They had liked Better when the symposium or other sort of gatherings like at Haitian studies since the, 2008 panel had sort of broader rubrics of thinking about gender and sexuality and brought conversations together, but we also wanted to acknowledge that we are In the US academy that we learn from queer studies, that that’s really important to all of us.
Erin Durban [00:16:49]:
And so in in naming that field and bringing it into being, we really settled on queer Haitian studies. My book It’s probably so it’s the first one in this generation of publications. Certainly, we have mentors, a lot of great Scholars who who are asking clear questions where maybe that got published, maybe it didn’t, but They were really encouraging of our work. So my book is sort of the first one in this generation, but there’s going to be a lot of Publications that follow. And one of the funny things about this is my Haitian colleagues have said, We’re really glad that you’re going 1st just to see how it goes because in a lot of ways, I I think this is Part of the reason why I was invited to do this work in the 1st place is I’m not I’m not Haitian, and so, you know, This doesn’t go this my work doesn’t go back to my family. There’s not going to be, you know, all those, sort of complicated relationship dynamics and everything that influence, but also I’m really Excited about the work that my colleagues are doing. We’ve sort of kept up the queer Haitian studies Gatherings, they’ve mostly been online, though there have been gatherings in the United States and Haiti. We had hoped to do actually more in Haiti, and that’s Not been possible.
Erin Durban [00:18:33]:
And I’ve been less involved with those the past couple years during the pandemic in part just, not not because of the pandemic, but my own health. So a lot of my colleagues have taken that up, and that those gatherings are both Scholars and artists and activists. And so it’s not just people inside the Academy but also outside. And I would say that that’s really something that’s important to the field is that we’re all engaged With social movements, with what’s going on in the contemporary moment with real people’s lives. And So it’s important that our work doesn’t just, you know, go out to academic audiences that we’re trying in different ways to Make it accessible. So, you know, from my book, what that means too is that I’ve applied to make it open access so that people would be able to get it Without paying for it, that my university would pay for it and people to have access to the work and, to get it translated because a lot of books in Haitian studies are in English only or in French only, and so really Opening that up. And I would say to, Haitian studies has has changed a lot. Who’s in it Has changed a lot, and there’s a lot of, attention to thinking about marginalization both within the Organization, the Haitian Studies Association, but also in the field.
Erin Durban [00:20:07]:
And so things have shifted a lot, and People have been really supportive of queer Haitian studies, and I think that’s really important as we continue this work.
Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:20:25]:
Is that some kind of, you know, Self imposed amnesia?
Erin Durban [00:20:30]:
Yes. Actually, I think that’s a a great way to think about colonial unknowing. So this Term comes out of an introduction to a special issue of theory and event thinking about this term. The authors are really thinking about the ways that colonialism is embedded in the ways that we know things but is purposefully fully hidden. So that that term you use, amnesia, is is really great. So it’s it’s to think about, you know, All the ways that we produce knowledge, but come to know things just in our daily lives and how colonialism is hidden. So, like, one of the things the authors talks about are, like, what counts as evidence and how hard it is sometimes to say That colonialism exists because the voices of people trying to draw attention to that structure Even in the weight of evidence to show that it exists. And so, you know, here in the book, I use it in the acknowledgments just because I found it so strange that when I started to think about Haiti and Do scholarship about Haiti and its history, the Haitian revolution, that the United States hadn’t been involved there for a long time, and that that just seems so strange to me.
Erin Durban [00:21:56]:
And in some in some pretty important Wait. I mentioned, you know, my family had been there. I didn’t know any of that. And At the time, I can’t remember if this made it into the acknowledgments or not. But my my girlfriend at the time, she found out that her dad was Haitian, And she had been told her whole life that she was some, you know, some combination of European and indigenous, but in, like, very broad terms. And I thought it was such a strange thing to keep from somebody and that I myself didn’t know about my family’s history in Haiti. And so I was figuring out why I was set up to not to not learn any of those things, to not learn about settler colonialism in the United States, To not learn about US imperialism abroad, I think this is an important thing especially now to be talking about when, you know, there are so many attacks on critical race theory and attempts by different people to talk about colonialism and racism in the United States. This term, colonialism, knowing really helps figure out, like, why is that such an uphill battle? I, was grateful to the authors for for giving us that way to think about it, but also to Be able to come up with new strategies.
Erin Durban [00:23:23]:
So every time I present this work, particularly, you know, not necessarily here, but for US audiences, I I forefront is the relationship of the United States to Haiti. And not just, I mean, it’s hard to do in a in a very short amount of time because it is long and complex and ongoing. And and so I think about myself, teen and what I needed to know before I had any of these experiences and, like, what what kinds of information that I need to give general US audiences who only hear bad things about Haiti and don’t really know any of these histories.
Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:24:10]:
In addition to the acknowledgment section, you added, dedications section. What compelled you to do that? Is the dedications section the soul heart part and the acknowledgment, the head part?
Erin Durban [00:24:29]:
Wow. What a great question. Well, I would definitely say that the dedications are the heart of the book. You know, so much of the book is really analytical. Sometimes it Feels really separate from people’s lives. I I often encourage people to start reading in chapters 2 or 3 or 4 to really meet a lot of the people along the way. The history chapter is long, and It feels sometimes a little bit disconnected, though I think it’s important to lay down that work. But the dedications, I put that in the book because I I attended a critical disability studies conference, and Alexis Pauling Gumbs, who is a black feminist queer author, invited people to make dedications in the space of that conference, and and she really Said, you know, who brought you here? Who are your ancestors and the people who made it so that You could be here today.
Erin Durban [00:25:47]:
And as I was doing that, in that space, I thought, you know, I have this huge project, I mean, over a decade of working on this book, and I really wanted to make sure that the that the people were who who were most important to the book We’re right up front. And so I have these 2 dedication sections. The first one, I would say what Separates them is the the first one is people who I’ve had sort of a more fleeting relationship with. So in dedications part 1, it’s people I don’t know very well. In queer studies, these are called twice told stories. For instance, I have in there The Chef, a Queens, New York based Haitian Gays and Lesbian Alliance organizer who returned to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and opened a successful restaurant in Petronville. While running her business, A gathering place for middle and upper class socialites. She and her partner also raised a son together.
Erin Durban [00:27:02]:
So there’s these little Glimpses into different people’s lives. And, well, my favorite in here is actually The Milk Queen. And I’ve I’ve never read this out loud, and it’s hard because it of course, this story was told to me by, somebody who’s Haitian, and I don’t know that I can read it the right way. There are different there are different ways of just rep you know, representing that on the page, but then also the voice in my head is It’s really not my own as I hear this story, but it, so the milk queen and it go it’s in quotes Because this is a twice told story. When I was a kid, a very effeminate man came to my house each week with his cow to provide milk for my family. He would make my parents laugh and laugh with his jokes and mannerisms. My dad would laugh, and my mom would laugh, And I would look at them like, wow. This queen was from the countryside, barefoot and everything, and I do not know where he could have learned something like that.
Erin Durban [00:28:07]:
I I feel like part of this work too is just you know, part of the work of the dedications is archiving, all these counters and stories so that there’s a record of them in the world that they’re gathered together and That people haven’t shared their stories with me. And then sometimes, you know, they’ve told me you’re the only person I’ve talked about this with or, You know, that because of what I do, they’ve shared those stories. So that’s dedications part 1. Dedications part 2 is The sections are much longer, and it’s people whose lives really shaped the book. They’re Sort of my closest, most intimate informants and friends and, I would say, you know, friends, but in that way that in in capsulates all of that, you know, that it’s People who you have arguments with and long term relationships with and send cards 2 and all of, you know, all of those things. So the people in the I don’t want to read these because it’d be much longer, But the people in the who are whose stories are in the 2nd dedications, they show up a lot in the book. And so it’s really, I would say, rooted in their lives that we were traveling together Through you know? I I really say, like, the years of my research were 2,008 to 2,000 and team. We’re we still are in relationship with each other, and they were the ones where you know, it was most important to me that this book was written for them and reflected their lives in ways that felt good to them.
Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:30:12]:
Forgive my ignorance, But what’s the history behind your deliberate use of the following terms from the book? Same sex desiring And gender creatives. Are those common terms within the LGBTQI communities or something you coined for this book?
Erin Durban [00:30:33]:
No. I I actually think that’s a really great questions. I use these 2 terms, same sex desiring and gender creative people, Together throughout the book. And, really, I did that in part because, You know, it’s it’s not really accurate to refer to people as queer people the way that I do in the United States. People talk about queer people and queer communities. And that umbrella term that A queer. It’s an Anglo term. It doesn’t travel in Haiti.
Erin Durban [00:31:07]:
It’s very difficult to pronounce. There are other ways that, people refer to themselves in Haiti to talk about the same things. And, I mentioned, you know, people Talk about the LGBTI community, or LGBT community. While I was In Haiti, there’s sort of a shift to using that language. But before that, people had lots of different Identities. Sometimes people use the derogatory terms for same sex sexuality And, use that to and reclaim it for themselves in the way that queer has been a negative word that’s been reclaimed in the United States. So, like, is one of those terms, but sometimes people use English Terms to refer to themselves and, like like gay. Actually, when I started this work, people used those terms a lot because They didn’t have a lot of circulation within Haiti, so they were sort of a way to for people to Talk to each other without drawing the attention of people around them, which I think is is a a really cool thing.
Erin Durban [00:32:25]:
But I just So we wanted a way to sort of do that broad work, like, to talk about an impacted community impacted people Without being specific, like saying gay people or queer people because those terms, you know, are Rooted in Europe and the United States in particular kinds of sexual politics. And so, Yes. I’m very precise in the book. When I’m using all of those terms, I try and really keep People’s self identifications in the context where I’m talking about them, and certainly those change over time. But that’s why I use this broad term, but it does. So when I’m saying same sex desiring, that would include lesbians, Gay people and bisexual people in in identifications and practices, but also People will use all those other terms that I was talking about in creole. But then also for I I use the term gender creative, and that’s It’s not so common. Like, same sex desiring is more common in academic scholarship to say that, but Gender creative isn’t.
Erin Durban [00:33:42]:
Usually, people say gender nonconforming, but I I actually really love That I just am impressed all the time at how imaginative people are when it comes to gender expression. And do you think that you know all these amazing ways that people are embodied in the world, and then you meet more people, and you’re just I like, I I find it really amazing that there are these, like, creative repositories people have. And I I just I wanted to highlight That in a way that gender nonconforming is really about breaking the norms and gender creative is About openings, so that’s why I chose those terms to to Broadly describe who I was talking to and who the book is about.
Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:34:43]:
There were 2 aftershocks, from the 20 turn earthquake in Haiti, 1 natural And the other quiet human. Can you talk about the human shock, the rise of homophobic violence in Haiti post earthquake? How many incidents were recorded?
Erin Durban [00:35:02]:
Yeah. That’s a a really great question. And throughout the book, I highlight I call them flare ups, Homophobic violence. These times when there’s a lot of public violence against same sex desiring and gender creative people that would let you know, right, it’s not an isolated incident that there is a general feeling even if people aren’t connected to each other that Things are more dangerous that their lives have been harder. And I so one of those times was after The 2010 earthquake, and that’s when LGBTQ organizations really started Doing more intensive work in Haiti. There had been a little bit of involvement before that time, but these international organizations got, involved in relief and rescue efforts and highlighted that there were a lot of problems with Homophobia and transphobia after the earthquake. And I’ll just mention, there there isn’t data in the way that we think about that. So there aren’t numbers of incidents that people recorded that kind of, you know, the stuff that gets Trafficking human rights reports and all of that.
Erin Durban [00:36:20]:
There there wasn’t anybody recording that at the time. And so there’s a lot of evidence, But it’s like with my work where it’s really it comes from talking to people and their, Everyday experiences. And so it isn’t really until chapter 5 that I Start to make a place for those stories that, you know, the same sex desiring and gender creative people who felt that aftershock have a place in the book to describe what their lives were like, whether that was, You know, more difficulties within their family, people yelling derogatory things on the street or throwing rocks at them or beating them up. I I wanted to have place for the importance of those stories and that history as a as a particular turning point. I also I mean, in chapter 5, talk about some of the problems of those international organizations coming in and highlighting homophobia in the ways that they did because it was very similar to how missionaries have come in and from from outside of Haiti and said that the solutions are really to be found outside of Haiti instead of within. And so, you know, I do, I really try and both show That those organizations sort of missed key parts of their analyses of these situations And of understanding how they were related to US imperialism in Haiti and the influx of missionaries, but that also a lot of the Same sex desiring and gender creative people who were experiencing these violence were working together to support each other, and And they were connected to other marginalized people, whether that’s, you know, deportees or People who had sort of different religious beliefs that they were working to support each other in in this Contacts. And I think that’s a a really important piece of this to
Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:38:44]:
How were post 20 2 earthquake Haitian victims recruited into the evangelical Churches. How were they convinced? Also, in what ways were these conversions as at the of the LGBTQI community in community in Haiti.
Erin Durban [00:39:04]:
So what happens then in terms of people’s lives who are same sex desiring and gender creative is that all of this, this long involvement of the US and Haiti has led to the rise of Protestant homophobia. And so that has a particular kind of shape that’s different from Catholic homophobia, And that is really about I say it works in an economy of enunciation and denunciation that you’re really supposed to talk about sexuality publicly. You’re supposed to condemn it. You’re supposed to ask people if they are gay. And that that really that’s a Huge shift from this long established sort of Catholic system of sexuality in Haiti. And and so These 2 forms of homophobia that I look at of different you know, as legacies of European colonialism and then US imperialism, This is really similar to a lot of the scholarship that’s already been done looking at the sort of legacies of State politics, religious politics on on sexuality. But the piece that is not That I’m I’m also saying is part of this idea of postcolonial homophobia, which is really looking at the long term Facts of these interventions and how they play out in terms of gender and sexuality Is what happens with LGBT LGBTQ organizations when they come to Haiti? So there is a sort of longer history there where some of these organizations, have their roots in AIDS outreach efforts. And so when I started my research, there was an MSM on men who have sex with men organization and a lot of different health organizations that were Yeah.
Erin Durban [00:41:06]:
They were specifically thinking about how to do outreach to men who have sex with men. But, There it wasn’t really until 2009 that some of these international organizations, for different reasons, started to become interested in doing work in Haiti, and some of those were personal reasons. Some were professional. So I I don’t wanna say, Like, there wasn’t there wasn’t one reason, but it was just it was through you know, 3 little organizations started doing work there. Not like These churches that had been there for a long time were well established and had these tremendous routes sort of, like, set up by the time of my research. Really, when the earthquake happened, they felt Like, there was work to be done that that they had established these new relationships in different ways. And so, Estrella and Eagleherc and Housing Works, they sort of ramped up the work that they were doing, Which made sense because they they knew they knew people and felt like there there was some way that they wanted to help. Now what Happened is that and I really get into this later in the book is, like, they made a lot of the same Mistakes as the missionaries.
Erin Durban [00:42:37]:
And I I mentioned that before, but I think that that’s a really important piece of this Puzzle of postcolonial homophobia that actually bringing in international LGBTQ politics Added fuel to the fire of this already sort of difficult situation. And so The dynamics of post colonial homophobia are also how these 2 when these organizations came in, it just Visibility is a really important part of US queer politics. It’s also a dangerous part. There’s a great new book out about that call. The visibility interrupted, but provoked more homophobia and and also the way that these organizations work really supported more sort of foreign intervention and not those local solutions that I was talking about. There’s just more about it was really complicated. So what I ultimately say is even though this doesn’t seem Like, it could be possible that these LGBTQ organizations actually made same sex desiring and gender creative Haitians’ lives Worse. And so that’s an important piece about thinking about postcolonial homophobia that doesn’t always get said.
Erin Durban [00:43:59]:
I I you know, people will say, right, sometimes those movements are imperialist and reproduce those dynamics, but I’m really thinking about people’s day to day lives and how Easy or hard it is for them to live, and, so I just want that to be part of
Patrick Jean-Baptiste [00:44:23]:
I hope you enjoyed this episode as much as I did. Please follow us On Twitter and Facebook at podcast, that’s with a w? Not an
00:00 The book discusses LGBTQ politics, homophobia, race.
05:52 US missionaries in Haiti react to stereotypes.
08:26 Family history in Haiti leads to curiosity.
12:55 Queer and Haitian studies are growing fields.
14:29 Formation of queer Haitian studies challenges traditional norms.
18:33 Prioritizing accessible work in Haitian studies field.
21:56 Discovering hidden family histories sparks societal reflection.
28:07 Archiving stories, dedicating book to close friends.
32:25 Broad terms used to describe impacted community.
36:20 Chapter 5 focuses on marginalised communities’ stories.
39:04 Rise of Protestant homophobia amid colonial legacies.
42:37 LGBTQ organizations exacerbated postcolonial homophobia, worsened lives.
Primary Topic: Erin Durban’s Book and Research Focus
- Presentation of Erin Durban’s book as a significant contribution to understanding Haiti’s history and its relationship to the United States
- Erin Durban’s focus on relationship of United States to Haiti
- Aim to provide US audiences with deeper understanding of Haiti’s history
- Discussion of the dedications section of the book
- Its role in connecting analytical parts of the book with people’s lives and experiences
- Inclusion of brief glimpses into the lives of individuals, categorized as “twice told stories” in queer studies
- Function as an archive of their stories
Primary Topic: LGBTQI Identities and Experiences in Haiti
- Deliberate use of the terms “same sex desiring” and “gender creative” in the book
- Purpose to encompass a broad range of identities and experiences within the LGBTQI communities in Haiti
- Acknowledgment of diverse self-identifications and changing dynamics of terminology over time
- Reasoning behind choosing “gender creative” and its significance
- Highlighting imaginative ways people express gender
- Shifting focus from breaking norms to creating new possibilities
- Issues related to homophobic violence in Haiti post-earthquake
- Mention of “flare ups” of homophobic violence, particularly after the 2010 earthquake
- Intensified LGBTQ support work in response
Primary Topic: The Sexual Politics of Empire
- Erin Durban’s description of the concept of the sexual politics of empire
- Definition using the words imperialism, race, and sexuality
- Relevance to the historical relationship between the United States and Haiti
- Discussion of postcolonial homophobia in Haiti
- Influences from Catholicism and US imperialism, including the rise of evangelical Christianity
- Implications for Haitian society and LGBTQI communities
Primary Topic: Erin Durban’s Personal Connection to Haiti
- Acknowledgment of Erin Durban’s family benefiting from US imperialist ventures in Haiti
- Example provided of starting a business in Haiti
- Reflection on implications for her career and understanding of US empire
Primary Topic: Queer Haitian Studies and LGBTQI Activism
- Criticism of international LGBTQ organizations’ interventions in Haiti
- Their impact on exacerbating postcolonial homophobia and supporting foreign interventions instead of local solutions
- The unintentional worsening of the lives of same-sex desiring and gender creative Haitians
- Overview of the field of queer Haitian studies
- Early panel focusing on gender and sexuality in 2008
- Symposium at Duke University in 2015 as a critical mass of queer Haitian studies
- Challenges and resistance faced in the field
- Concerns about misrepresentation and stereotyping of Haitians in gender and sexuality discussions
- Erin Durban’s book as the first in this generation of publications
- The emergence of “queer Haitian studies” as a recognized field
- Use of the term to acknowledge the influence of queer studies in the US academy
- Plans for more publications and engagement in social movements
Primary Topic: Colonial Unknowing and Understanding Colonialism in Daily Life
- Mention of the concept of “colonial unknowing”
- Relevance to understanding the ways colonialism is hidden and knowledge produced in daily life
- Importance in understanding Haiti’s history and US involvement
- Consideration of the concept in light of current attacks on critical race theory and discussions about colonialism and racism in the United States
The Impact of European and US Representations on Racialized Sexuality: “I talk a lot in the book about how European and US representations of Haiti have shaped, they’ve they’ve really, I suppose, created Haiti as sort of perverse and Haitians as perverse in their representations.”
— Erin Durban [00:02:50 → 00:03:04]
The impact of colonialism and imperialism on homophobia: “After the end of the colonial period in lots of different places, the state or people who are involved in movements against anti-colonialism retain a lot of the conservative sexual politics of colonizers that are homophobic.”
— Erin Durban [00:04:51 → 00:04:57]
The Rise of Evangelical Christianity in Haiti: “So part of the long trajectory of this book is thinking About how for a long time, there were just a few Protestant missionaries in Haiti before the US occupation and some who are really well known who are saying, you know, we really need to get more people here.”
— Erin Durban [00:05:52 → 00:06:14]
Family History in Haiti: “I learned in the course of doing this project and even on the way that This sort of something that, you know, made me interested in pursuing it is that everybody in my family had a little bit to say about their Time in Haiti, whether it was my grandmother in Ohio who said that she had been on a cruise to Haiti and Had something to say about just stopping there and her impressions of it, or I I learned that my dad and my uncle Had lived in Haiti for a while and started a a business there.”
— Erin Durban [00:08:26 → 00:09:01]
Queer Haitian Studies: “And that was a really important symposium because each of us in our own ways Had learned from a generation of scholars before us that it was really not welcome in Haitian studies to take up Queer questions.”
— Erin Durban [00:14:59 → 00:15:15]
The Rise of Queer Haitian Studies: “My book is sort of the first one in this generation, but there’s going to be a lot of Publications that follow.”
— Erin Durban [00:17:26 → 00:17:33]
Haitian Studies and Social Activism: “So it’s important that our work doesn’t just, you know, go out to academic audiences that we’re trying in different ways to make it accessible.”
— Erin Durban [00:19:15 → 00:19:25]
The Importance of Archiving Stories: “Part of this work is just, you know, part of the work of the dedications is archiving, all these counters and stories so that there’s a record of them in the world that they’re gathered together and that people haven’t shared their stories with me.”
— Erin Durban [00:28:10 → 00:28:26]
The Importance of Marginalized Stories: “I wanted to have place for the importance of those stories and that history as a particular turning point.”
— Erin Durban [00:36:20 → 00:38:36]
Postcolonial Homophobia: “And so that has a particular kind of shape that’s different from Catholic homophobia, And that is really about I say it works in an economy of enunciation and denunciation that you’re really supposed to talk about sexuality publicly.”
— Erin Durban [00:39:19 → 00:39:36]
- How did Erin Durban foreground the relationship between the United States and Haiti, and why is it important for US audiences to have a deeper understanding of Haiti’s history?
- What role does the dedications section of the book play in connecting the analytical parts of the book with people’s lives and experiences, and how does it serve as an archive of “twice told stories” in queer studies?
- In what ways does Erin Durban’s deliberate use of the terms “same sex desiring” and “gender creative” encompass a broad range of identities and experiences within the LGBTQI communities in Haiti?
- How has the terminology within LGBTQI communities in Haiti evolved and what implications does this have for understanding the diverse self-identifications and experiences?
- Why did Erin choose to use the term “gender creative,” and how does it shift the focus from breaking norms to creating new possibilities in the context of gender expression in Haiti?
- Discuss the rise of homophobic violence in Haiti post-earthquake and its implications for LGBTQ support work, as well as the challenges in obtaining specific data on incidents.
- What is the concept of “gay standard time” and “queer standard time,” and how does it serve as a form of inside joke about appropriate timing for queer people?
- How does Erin Durban describe the sexual politics of empire and its relevance to the historical relationship between the United States and Haiti, particularly in the context of imperialism, race, and sexuality?
- How has postcolonial homophobia in Haiti been influenced by Catholicism and US imperialism, with a specific focus on the rise of evangelical Christianity and its impact on Haitian society?
- In working at the intersection of queer studies and Haitian studies, what resistance and challenges has Erin Durban encountered and how is the field of “queer Haitian studies” being brought into being and supported?