Ecotheories Colloquium

Black Star: Charles Hérard-Dumesle’s Haitian Naturalism
Mar 20, 2024, 4:30 pm6:00 pm



Event Description
Monique Allewaert

Early Haitian historian, scientist, and poet Charles Hérard-Dumesle’s massive natural history Voyage dans le nord d’Hayti (1824) proposes that colonialism’s best trick was convincing imperialists and almost everyone else that there is only one nature the world over. His book, including its famous poetic account of the 1791 Bwa Kaiman Vodou ceremony, assays a natural history that joins together poetics, other-than-human forces, and the history of the dispossessed to forge a decolonial nature that serves Haitian sovereignty. Allewaert argues that Hérard-Dumesle’s Haitian natural history contested not simply the intellectual legacy of imperial natural history but the materiality of nature itself.

Monique Allewaert works at the intersections of 18th and 19th-century hemispheric American colonialisms, the environmental humanities, literary and cultural studies, and science studies. In Ariel’s Ecology, Allewaert explored how 18th and 19th-century Afro-diasporic persons’ experiences of the body shaped art, personhood, and political life. Currently, Allewaert is completing a book called “Luminescence” that follows insect avatars through 18th-century Caribbean natural history, story, riddles, song, and poetry to elaborate decolonial natures, knowledges, and aesthetics. The book shows that the constant, often insensible touch of insects as well as the tropical climate that they amplified informed a situated knowledge inspired by insects’ navigation of their environments. Allewaert’s work has appeared in a range of journals and edited collections.  

Department of English