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Perspectives on Haiti

Professors offer insight into the earthquake, its aftermath and the people of Haiti

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  • Video by Shane Epping
  • Published: Feb. 22, 2011
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When an earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, two Mizzou professors felt the impact.

Haiti native Flore Zéphir, chair of the MU Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, watched on television as her homeland crumbled, anxious about the fate of her two brothers living in Port-au-Prince.

She also worried about well-being of a colleague conducting research in the Caribbean nation. Valerie Kaussen, an associate professor in the same department, was on a bus in Port-au-Prince when the earthquake hit. She survived the disaster and since has returned to document the aftermath.

This semester Zéphir and Kaussen host two events that bring a bit of Haiti to Mizzou. The first, on Feb. 24, showcases works of literary, visual and performing art by Haitian-American women. The second, on March 3, explores the housing crisis that continues to plague post-earthquake Haiti.

Haiti from the Perspective of Two Haitian-American Women Writers/Artists

Feb. 24
3:30-5:30 p.m., Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center


“The Company of Heaven″

Marilène Phipps-Kettlewell
Poet and Artist, Cambridge, Massachusetts

“I am a Storm″

Gina Ulysse
Associate Professor of Anthropology, Wesleyan University

Post-Earthquake Haiti: Housing Crisis, Displacement and the State

March 3
3:30-5:30 p.m., Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center

The January 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince left 1.5 million people homeless and in desperate need of shelter. One year later, nearly one million people still remain in camps under tents, tarps and bed sheets. This panel will report on the current state of housing, aid, the state and reconstruction in Haiti.


Jean-Germain Gros

Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Missouri-St. Louis
Jean-Germain Gros specializes in Caribbean politics, with a focus on Haiti,  as well as African politics, globalization and international institutions. He has published numerous articles and three books, including State Failure, Underdevelopment and Foreign Intervention in Haiti (Routledge, 2011).

Reyneld Sanon

Haitian Activist, FRAKKA (Force for Reflection and Action on Housing)
Reyneld Sanon is a grassroots activist who has three decades of experience working with civil society organizations and the popular movement in Haiti. He is currently facilitating a coalition of groups called FRAKKA (Force for Reflection and Action on Housing) in their advocacy efforts for homeless survivors of the 2010 earthquake.

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Last updated: June 6, 2013