The New York City Lecture Series Presents Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert on “Vodou and Haiti’s Environmental Catastrophe”

The New York City Lecture Series, organized by The Transnation and Transcolonial Caribbean Studies Research Group, presents “Gade nan mizè-a m tonbe: Vodou and Haiti’s Environmental Catastrophe,” a talk by Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert. This lecture will take place on Monday, October 3, 2011, at 7:00pm, at The Graduate Center-CUNY, located at 365 Fifth Avenue (at 34th Street). [Ask at Graduate Center front desk upon arrival for room number. Please bring a valid picture ID.]

Description: In “Gade nan mizè-a m tonbe,” a plaintive Vodou song dedicated to the lwa Bwa Nan Bwa (Tree in the Woods spirit), the singer asks the spirit to look at the misery into which he has fallen. Guided by this poignant song, the talk explores what the nation’s severe deforestation—and the loss of its sacred mapous—has meant for religious practices and beliefs in Haiti.

The Transnational and Transcolonial Caribbean Studies Research Group (organized by Kaiama L. Glover and Alessandra Benedicty) facilitates regular scholarly exchange among local colleagues interested in contemporary issues related to the Caribbean and its points of transcolonial, transnational, and regional intersection. The goal of this lecture and performance series is to emphasize the aesthetics that emerge from the spiritual practices of “African-derived” religions.

Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert is a Professor of Caribbean culture and literature in the Department of Hispanic Studies and Director of the Environmental Studies Program at Vassar College, where she holds the Randolph Distinguished Professor Chair. She is also a participating faculty member in the Programs in Latin American Studies and International Studies. She received a B.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Puerto Rico and M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees in Comparative Literature from New York University. Paravisini-Gebert is the author of a number of books, among them Phyllis Shand Allfrey: A Caribbean Life (1996), Jamaica Kincaid: A Critical Companion (1999), Creole Religions of the Caribbean (with Margarite Fernández Olmos, 2003; 2nd ed. 2011), Literatures of the Caribbean (2008) and of the forthcoming biography of Cuban patriot José Martí (José Martí: A Life). She is at work on Glimpses of Hell, a study of the aftermath of the 1902 eruption of the Mont Pelée volcano of Martinique, and on Extinctions: The Ecological Cost of Colonization in the Caribbean. Paravisini-Gebert has co-edited a number of collections of essays, most notably Displacements and Transformations in Caribbean Cultures (2009), Women at Sea: Travel Writing and the Margins of Caribbean Discourse (2001), Healing Cultures: Art and Religion as Curative Practices in the Caribbean and Its Diaspora (2001) and Sacred Possessions: Vodou, Santería, Obeah, and the Caribbean (1997). Her critical editions of texts by Caribbean women writers include Phyllis Allfrey’s The Orchid House (1997) and It Falls into Place: The Short Stories of Phyllis Shand Allfrey (2004).

For more information, see

For more on the full series, see previous post Lecture Series: AESTHETIC AND CULTURAL EXPRESSIONS OF AFRICAN-DERIVED RELIGIONS

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