Makandal Text Network

This exhibit explores the question, how do we use the affordances of digital archives to understand the complexity of Makandal’s story? To conceptualize the complex intersections of time, space, genre, and history in Makandal’s narrative, this exhibit conceptualizes Susan Gillman and Kristen Silva Gruesz’s (2011) concept of the text-network, a form of intertextuality “connecting multiple points on the hemisphere’s space-time map” where translation, circulation, and geography are subjects of analysis and tools of understanding (230). In particular, Gillman and Gruesz encourage scholars to move beyond political and geographical boundaries to the “edges and peripheries” of texts, “thinking dialectically and translationally about the movements of texts across space, time, and language” to create a “a network of crosshatched, multidirectional influences rather than drawing one-way or even two-way lines” (230). In a text-network, a narrative is not bound by geopolitical boundaries of history or the genres of literature, but extends into connections of topics, speculation, and different forms of knowledge and knowledge production. 

This concept is incredibly useful in unpacking the complex intersections of time, space, knowledge, language, and production in Makdandal’s narrative. As we explore knowledge and production in this exhibit, we also seek to imagine the text network with attention to genre and translation. Using digital maps, we can put into conversation our understanding of publication, circulation, translation, and geography to map out the text that comprise Makandal’s narrative. These historic documents and literary texts comprise a wide variety of genres: letters, judicial reports, periodicals printed in a variety of languages, pantomimes, travel narratives, historic and contemporary novels, and speculative fiction. In assembling these maps, we hope to create a new way of imagining, visualizing, and accessing the text-narrative, asking:

  • What are the ways in which reimagining these texts as a network will reveal the influence of colonial powers? 
  • What is the relationship between publishing, Makandal’s story, and colonial history? 
  • What is the geographic and temporal relationship between these texts and amongst genres? 
  • How can we, following the ECDA’s work of remix and reassembly, decolonize Makandal’s narrative?
  • What digital tools, focal points, or methodologies allow us to do this work?

Each map includes a brief introduction and a guide for navigation, including information about data points. However, there is no one way to navigate or explore these maps. As a way to visualize the complex and interconnected relationships amongst these texts, we welcome any observations, reflections, and ways of reading and seeing these materials that you come across. 

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Works Cited

Bourgeois, Nicolas Louis, P. J. B. Nougaret, and Nougaret, Voyages Intéressans Dans Différentes Colonies Françaises, Espagnoles, Anglaises, &c: Contenant Des Observations Importantes Relatives à Ces Contrées; & Un Mémoire Sur Lesmaladies Les plus Communes à Saint-Domingue, Leurs Remèdes, & Le Moyen de s’en Préserver Moralement & Phisiquement: Avec Des Anecdotes Singulières, Qui n’avaient Jamais Été Publiées (A Londres ; et se trouve à Paris: ches J. F. Bastien, 1788). 

Diouf, Sylviane A. Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas, 15th Anniversary Edition. NYU Press, 2013.

Fick, Carolyn E. The Making of Haiti: The Saint Domingue Revolution from Below. Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1990.

Geggus, David. Haitian Revolutionary Studies. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011). 

___. David Patrick. Haitian Voodoo in the Eighteenth Century: Language, Culture, Resistance. Böhlau Verlag, 1991.

Hall, Michael R. Historical Dictionary of Haiti. Scarecrow Press, 2012.

James, Cyril Lionel Robert. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. Vintage Books, 2nd edition, 1989.

Laguerre, Michel S. Afro-Caribbean Folk Medicine. Bergin & Garvey, 1987.

“Macandale, chef des noirs révoltés, arrêt de condamnation par le Conseil supérieur du Cap-Français à Saint-Domingue (1758),” January 20, 1758. Secrétariat d’État à la Marine - Personnel colonial ancien. Archives Nationales d’Outre Mer. http://anom.archivesnationales.culture.gouv.fr/ark:/61561/up424uoqnsvb.num=20.q=macandale.

Mobley, Christina Frances. “The Kongolese Atlantic: Central African Slavery & Culture from Mayombe to Haiti” (Duke University, 2015)

Moreau de Saint-Méry, M. L. E. Description Topographique, Physique, Civile, Politique et Historique de La Partie Francaise de l’isle Saint-Domingue. Avec Des Observations Généales Sur Sa Population, Sur Le Caractère & Les Moeurs de Ses Divers Habitans; Sur Son Climat, Sa Culture, Ses Productions, Sonadministration, &c. &c. Accompagnées Des Détails Les plus Propres à Faire Connaître l’état de Cette Colonie à l’époque Du 18 Octobre 1789; et d’une Nouvelle Carte de Latotalité de l’isle. Par M.L.E. Moreau de Saint-Méry. Tome Premier[-Second]. Comprenant, Outre Les Objets Généraux, La Description Des Vingt & Une Paroisses de La Partie Du Nord & de l’Isle La Tortue. [One Line of Quotation] (A Philadelphie: Et s’y trouve chez l’auteur, au coin de Front & de Callow-Hill Streets. A Paris, chez Dupont, libraire, rue de la Loi. Et à Hambourg, chex les principaux libraires, 1797).

Ramsey, Kate. The Spirits and the Law: Vodou and Power in Haiti. University of Chicago Press, 2014

Reinhardt, Catherine A. Claims to Memory: Beyond Slavery and Emancipation in the French Caribbean (New York: Berghahn Books, 2006).