A Great Lakes Colleges Association initiative supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Haitian Identity Formation Project

About the Project


After generations of Haitian immigration to the United States, this oral history project aims to shine light on Haitian-American experiences of identity with particular attention to social categories including but not limited to race, gender and class (socioeconomic status). A goal of the project was to capture stories within a discourse of transnational identity and long distance-nationalism. Using primarily family holidays and traditions I listened to the experiences of a wide range of family members to get a better sense in order to both learn more about the construction of the Haitian Diaspora and contextualize my place within the said diaspora. In listening to these stories, I decided to interpret these experiences by framing them around conceptions of Family and Nation. Thus, the Title of the project Family and Nation: Transnational Identity Formation in the Haitian Diaspora.  In order to understand the diverse ways these Haitian-Americans understand themselves, it is imperative to understand how interlocking forms of oppression can nuance the way we negotiate our identities. To that end, race and gender are addressed directly in interview questions but class (SES) is something that is presented less directly within interviews. As far as medium, I chose audio because the aurality of these interviews denies us visual cues that influence the way that we interpret a person’s story. For example, you can not engage with audio content that engages race and continue to think of race as merely about skin color. In terms of a larger human picture, each of the interview subjects is near to me personally and I wanted to do my best to present their stories with all the human splendor that the details of their lives can show us.
As a Senior, this project allowed me to use my final year at Kenyon to blend the personal and academic and ensure that my schooling facilitated my learning. Shoutout to all the family, professors, and librarians who made this possible.
On June 14th, 2018 the project was featured on the podcast What’s She On About? listen to the episode here: “Special Episode: Sak Pase with Jules – Family and Identity”
Written by

My name is Jules Desroches. I graduated from Kenyon College in 2018 with a degree in American Studies and concentrations in Law & Society and African Diaspora Studies. At this point, I think of everything in terms of projects because I'm paranoid about only doing one thing with my life. This project was/ is cool because I got to blend the personal and the academic and engage with what being Haitian-American could mean for different people while also engaging with race, gender, and class. I do my best to understand my self in relation to the world around me better and I'm really glad I could engage with oral history and the process of making meaning with family members. When I'm not overthinking, I like to listen to music that is best described as wavy-recently that means Tom Misch, Smino, and Ravyn Lanae.

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