By Kathryn Kopchik
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Lecturer and performance artist Gina Athena Ulysse will explore women's experiences in Haiti in two events at Bucknell University.
Both events, which are free and open to the public, are part of the annual Women's and Gender Studies Visiting Distinguished Lecturer series.
On Monday, March 7, Ulysse will give the performance, "Because When God is Too Busy: Haiti, Me and The World," at 7 p.m. in Bucknell Hall.
Ulysse's monologue considers the ways the past occupies the present by weaving spokenword, Vodou chants and theory to reflect and deconstruct childhood memories, social (in)justice, spirituality, and the incessant dehumanization of Haitians.
"Gina Ulysse offers critical reflections on international politics and global media from the perspective of a Haitian-American woman deeply committed to human rights and struggles of the disenfranchised, as well as to a reclamation of the value of Vodou, of women, and, ultimately, of herself," said Coralynn Davis, associate professor of women's and gender studies and anthropology at Bucknell.
On Tuesday, March 8, Ulysse will give the talk, "When the Body is a Country's Archive: Some Women's Stories of Trauma, Stories of Will," at 7 p.m. in the Forum of the Elaine Langone Center.
Ulysse says of her talk, "Recounting conversations with women in Haiti and abroad since the Jan. 12 earthquake, I consider how the body — a depository or reservoir of discursive, physiological, psychological and social memories — functions as an archive of the nation and its diaspora to make an argument for the continuous significance of feminist methods especially reflectivity."
Ulysse is an associate professor of anthropology, feminist gender and sexuality studies, and African-American studies at Wesleyan University. For the academic year 2010-11, she is an inaugural fellow at Wesleyan's College of the Environment, where she is working on a creative ethnography, "C'est Mon Devoir (It is My Duty): Stories of Civic Engagement, Urban Degradation and the Earthquake."
She was born in Haiti and emigrated to the United States in her early teens. Trained as an anthropologist, she is also a poet/performer and multimedia artist whose spoken word performance work outlines the impact of colonialism on Haiti.
Her first book, Downtown Ladies: Informal Commercial Importers, A Haitian Anthropologist and Self-Making in Jamaica, offers a complex picture of Caribbean market women by documenting the history of independent international traders-known as informal commercial importers, or ICIs-who travel abroad to import and export a vast array of consumer goods sold in the public markets of Kingston, Jamaica. Some of Ulysse's poetry appears in The Butterfly's Way: Voices From the Haitian Diaspora in the United States, edited by Edwidge Dandicat; Meridians: Feminism, Race and Transnationalism; and Ma Comere, Journal of the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars.
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