Sights and sounds of Haitian vodou

Between 1947 and 1954, avant-garde dancer and experimental filmmaker Maya Deren visited Haiti and immersed herself in vodou. Supported with a Guggenheim Fellowship grant, Deren intended to study and film the trance dancing of vodou ceremony. Ultimately, Deren became an active participant in the rituals. She documented her experiences in the 1953 book Divine Horsemen: The Voodoo (Living) Gods of Haiti and the footage that resulted in the entrancing 1981 film above, completed two decades after Deren's death by her third husband and his wife. Now, the Psychic Sounds Research & Recordings label has remastered and reissued Deren's audio recordings from Haiti on vinyl. Audio sampler below. From the label:

Maya Deren journeyed to Haiti to make a film of ritual dances, instead, she came to be accepted as a Voudoun initiate, whose devotees commune with the cosmic powers through invocation, offerings, song and dance of the Voudoun pantheon of deities, or Loa, whom are witnessed as being living gods and goddesses, actually taking possession of their devotees. Deren describes the relationship between magic, science and religion bringing a uniquely lyrical voice to her narrative. This paints a multi-textured, infinitely complex portrait of a spiritual tradition with roots stretching back to the very dawn of humanity. Joseph Campbell calls Divine Horsemen 'the most illuminating introduction that has yet been rendered to the whole marvel of the Haitian mysteries as 'facts of the mind.'' Included in this album are some of the first recordings ever made during religious ceremonies near Croix de Missions and Petionville featuring selections that serve as a soundtrack to the film she shot documenting Voodoo ceremonies and festivals conveying the incantatory power of the ritual drumming and singing.

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Shithole Playlist: David Byrne's favorite music from Donald Trump's least-favorite countries

The Beautiful Shitholes is David Byrne's Spotify playlist of music from the countries Donald Trump infamously condemned as "shitholes." Read the rest

A brief history of how the rich world brutalized and looted Haiti, a country the US owes its very existence to

When Donald Trump calls Haiti a "shithole country," he's dismissing one of the hardest-done-by countries in the history of the world -- and moreover, a land whose sacrifices made the US itself possible. Read the rest

Ethnic cleansing in Dominican Republic

In Sept 2013, a Dominican court ruled that 200,000+ natural-born citizens whose parents were undocumented Haitian workers were no longer entitled to citizenship, rendering them stateless and helpless before the law. Read the rest

Haitian kid freestyles to ukelele

JahFurry sez, "Carrie & Avi went on a service trip to Haiti with JDC Entwine and wound up part of an unexpected jam session: Avi was entertaining kids with his ukulele when an 11-year-old came up and started rapping in Creole--and the kid is awesome! According to a local bystander the boy was saying that he has hope. He knows that one day Haiti will be a better place.'"

Haitian freestyle + ukulele

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Disaster porn and elite panic: the militarized lie of savage disaster aftermath

Jonathan M. Katz reported on the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake for the AP. What he saw there ran contrary to the prevailing narrative of violence, looting and lawlessness in the streets. Instead, what he found was another example of "Elite Panic", the UN's "relief" forces landing heavily armed people all around the island who treated everyone as a bestial looter. Katz's piece on the experience draws comparisons with the way that the aftermath of Katrina, Sandy and other disasters were reported -- a stilted, evidence-free narrative that demanded that life be like the movies, where the slightest faltering of the state is immediately attended by a descent into savagery.

Yet authorities themselves showed an equal — and often far more dangerous — tendency to overreact. Trymaine Lee, part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize for Katrina coverage at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, wrote a scathing report from New Orleans five years later for The New York Times. Having taken time to investigate and reflect, he reported that despite a popular belief that the storm zone had been an inherently violent place, “Today, a clearer picture is emerging … including white vigilante violence, police killings, official cover-ups and a suffering population far more brutalized than many were willing to believe...."

That pacific posture wasn’t deployed in Haiti. Paratroopers landed, rifles in hand, on the lawn of the destroyed National Palace, while thousands more troops waited aboard warships in the bay of Port-au-Prince, never to disembark. The U.S. Southern Command cited “serious concerns within the (U.S.

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More evidence that Haiti's cholera epidemic started with UN Peacekeepers

Haiti has been battling a massive cholera outbreak since, roughly, around the time international aid groups arrived in the country following the 2010 earthquake. Now, genetic evidence links the strain of cholera in Haiti to a rare strain native to Nepal — further proof that it was Nepalese UN Peacekeepers who brought cholera to Haiti. This news comes two months after the UN claimed immunity from any financial liability relating to the outbreak, writes Stacey Singer at the Palm Beach Post. Read the rest

Wyclef Jean's highly-hyped Haiti charity defunct and in debt, surprising approximately nobody

Yéle, the Haiti charity of rock star Wyclef Jean that took in some $16 million after the 2010 eaarthquake, is bust. How bust? So bust that their domain, yele.org, has expired.

Deborah Sontag in the NYT, writing about the rockstar who once thought himself a good choice as president of Haiti:

"In a new memoir, Wyclef Jean, the Haitian-born hip-hop celebrity, claims he endured a “crucifixion” after the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake when he faced questions about his charity’s financial record and ability to handle what eventually amounted to $16 million in donations." Read the rest