Dissertation Abstracts

For The Right to Scream: The Silenced Struggles of Haiti and its Public University for Recognition, Independence, and Democracy

Author: Marques, Pâmela M, pmarconatto@gmail.com
Department: Education
University: Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Supervisor: Maria Elly Herz Genro
Year of completion: 2013
Language of dissertation: portuguese

Keywords: State University of , Counter-hegemonic st , Colonialism , History of Haiti
Areas of Research: Education , Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations , Social Classes and Social Movements


This dissertation is an analysis of the State University of Haiti - the only public university in the country - and its history of struggle, resistance, and confrontation, which remain unknown to their Latin American neighbors, including Brazil. This ignorance is not restricted to the University of Haiti, in particular. It also extends to the country in general, whose more complex understanding has been hampered by a media coverage that is fixated on exoticism, poverty, or the Haitian tragedy. Since the earthquake of January 2010, Haiti has been the target of a series of ethnocentric discourses committed to justify colonialist practices; in these discourses, which can be found in all sorts of international reports, Haiti is depicted as a nation "unable to exist on its own" or "solve its own problems." These discourses are ostensibly inspiring prescriptions for overcoming the supposed impracticability of the country in general, and the precariousness of their Public University, in particular; in reality, however, these discourses are inherited from the colonial era and serve to justify the exploitation of one people by another. It seems, however, that the existence of an "elite" institution, as the university is understood, in a context that is peripheral, poor, and marked by deprivation, causes annoyance, perplexity, and confusion among those who consider themselves the leaders of such institutions and the designers of its contours and directions. The assumption seems to be one in which a country listed as one of the world's poorest, could not "afford the luxury" of having a university, let alone claim a distinct one. In that sense, it seems, the State University of Haiti has been perceived and analyzed through a series of multilateral agencies, NGOs, international research institutes and foreign governments, committed to "assist the reconstruction of Haiti" and its University, through a series of diagnoses and recommendations, which despite already being produced since before the 2010 earthquake, gain reinforcements after the tragedy. It is as if the precariousness of the Haitian education in the post-earthquake era was to provide an ineluctable "raison d'être" of hundreds of foreign organizations in the country, justifying their stay and giving them the recognition and importance they garnered. The real Haiti loses more and more space in this invented, spoken, photographed and tightly played scenario, to the point of compelling the closure of other versions, other dimensions, other perspectives on Haiti. There inscribes this narrative about the Public University on Haiti, that is divided into two chapters. The first chapter focuses on analyses made by Haitians themselves of their country. This chapter on Haiti is tempered by a postcolonial lens and is comprised of the most iconic episodes of its history and deconstruction of stereotypes commonly attributed to Haitians. This chapter will help set up an analysis of the State University, which is the theme of the second chapter. In it, I show how the University has related to its surroundings, contributed to strengthening democracy in the country, and how it has contributed to reconstruction in the post-earthquake period. The main sources used in this chapter are also Haitian. Finally, I conduct a critical analysis of the content of international reports that purport to diagnose "diseases" and indicate "remedies" to the State University, ignoring that its own student movement, combined with other social movements, has already been working in this direction and producing their own conclusions. We imagine that the contained word will not be able to face the silence that keeps Haiti unknown, so, we claim the power and the drama of a scream.