CORDIS - EU research results

Transatlantic Politics of Horror and Terror in Gothic Narratives of the Haitian Revolution, 1791-2011

Final Report Summary - GOTH-NAR-HAITIAN-REV (Transatlantic Politics of Horror and Terror in Gothic Narratives of the Haitian Revolution, 1791-2011)

Dr. Raphael Hörmann
Marie Curie Actions, Intra European Fellowship
“Transatlantic Politics of Horror and Terror in Gothic Narratives of the Haitian Revolution, 1791-2011”
The primary objective of this project was to write a study on Gothic narratives of the Haitian Revolution – several peer-reviewed articles (completed by March 2016) and an academic monograph to be completed by July 2016. It adds a European perspective to the burgeoning field of the Haitian Turn in Transatlantic historical and cultural studies. As this expansion is largely limited to North-America, this project, which worked at the height of the current theories in transatlantic and postcolonial studies, increases the competitiveness of the European Research Area in the field of transatlantic studies, transatlantic modernity, Enlightenment and the critique of Eurocentric visions in this areas. Since it also particularly considers the European (British, German and French) discourse on the Haitian Revolution, it adds a uniquely European angle to existing studies on the Haitian Revolution, which largely tend to focus on its repercussions throughout the Americas. Hence the results of this research, which will be published with a leading Anglophone publisher (negotiations with Liverpool University Press underway), will make an international impact and improve considerably the track record and the competitiveness of Europe in the fields of transatlantic and Haitian Revolutionary Studies (in comparison to the USA). Overall, the project provides new transnational knowledge around a crucial historical event coming from European scholarship.

In the light of current trends in the humanities, with peer-reviewed articles scoring higher than monographs in research evaluations, the researcher and the scientist in charge decided to give priority to peer-reviewed articles, during the first year of the project, these to feed in later to the final monograph. Subsequently, the first ever article on the Haitian Gothic has been published to the leading peer-reviewed journal in slavery studies, Slavery & Abolition (3/2016) . Dr. Hoermann has contributed book chapters to Charlotte Lerg & Helena Troth (eds.) Transatlantic Revolutionary Cultures, to Tobias Nanz & Johannes Pause (eds.). Politiken des Ereignisses: Mediale Formierungen von Vergangenheit und Zukunft published in Germany and an essay collection on C.L.R. James’ Black Jacobins, edited by Rachel Douglas and due to be published with the prestigious Duke University Press. Another peer-reviewed article on the “Haitian Revolution and the horror trope of the Zombies” has been submitted to Atlantic Studies/Global Currents. These various publications have added greatly to the dissemination of the project.

Dr. Hoermann’s project has been a success on many levels beyond the mere production of outputs outlined elsewhere in this report. Firstly, it was the major impetus for the setting up of the Institute for Black Atlantic Research (IBAR) under the directorship of the scientist-in-charge Professor Alan Rice and artist and academic Professor Lubaina Himid. This has brought together researchers from different disciplines, who have helped to provide an interdisciplinary framework for the Marie Curie Project. The Institute has put on fifteen events (seminars, research showcases, conferences, meet the artist sessions etc.) since its founding in May 2014 and the Marie Curie Fellow has been able to thrive in this dynamic intellectual community and contribute himself to its growth and success. Secondly, IBAR has enabled Hoermann to place his research on the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) within a context of the Black Atlantic where it flourishes and has a natural home, making the events he has run and contributed to maximize audiences and impact through methods such as website dissemination. Thirdly, it has provided a collegial and supportive atmosphere where the fellow’s work can be critiqued and improved beyond the mentorship given by the scientist-in-charge. In effect, the support described in the original training plan has been enhanced greatly by IBAR’s launch.

Hoermann has attended and presented at several international conferences in the field, including in York, Bremen and Brighton (see list of disseminations). In January 2015 he organized (and presented) at a research showcase of the Institute for Black Atlantic Research, of which he is a founding member. As described in the plan, Hoermann was involved in an early meeting for planning the Collegium for African American Research Conference at Liverpool Hope University in June 2015 enabling him to get training for his own initiatives. This conference was a stellar success bringing over 200 delegates to the North West of England, who were top researchers in the field of the Black Atlantic. This training enabled him to take a leading role in organizing the Caribbean Research Seminar in the North, he helped to organize for IBAR in September 2015 with papers on Haiti and the comparative history of slavery, including his own. He was further the initiator and main organizer behind “After Revolution: Re-Visions and Versions of Haiti” (9-10th July 2015). This was the largest ever academic conference on the Haitian Revolution and its legacies in Europe. The presence in Preston of over forty international experts on Haiti provided the perfect research context for the development of the Marie Curie research project. After this conference, Hoermann built on the contacts he made with important American and Caribbean academics and with Haitian studies scholars such as Hannah Durkin and Alasdair Pettinger and international leading researchers such as Prof. Gina Ulysse to build a community of advisors whose advice he has sought as he has brought this project to a conclusion.

Renowned Black Artist and art scholar Prof. Lubaina Himid has provided extremely valuable training sessions on analyzing late eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century British caricatures, which he had earlier viewed in their original prints at the British Museum in London. These were central to the fellow’s research project and enabled Hoermann to analyse the visual content with new and heightened perspectives. These images were used at the research showcase and shared with UCLAN students in teaching sessions. Also, these racist images can in the future be displayed with their full implications thanks to this collaboration. The fellow has forged links to leading scholars in the field, among them Haitian specialist Prof. Charles Forsdick and Dr. Richard Huzzey former Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of International Slavery at the International Slavery Museum, of which Hoermann became a visiting fellow during this project. Through the Centre, he also has forged contacts with Dr. Ray Costello, a leading independent scholar of Black British History, This fellowship enabled him to disseminate the projects findings to curators at this important museum and interact with them as they move forward in developing displays there.

Hoermann has occupied a prominent role in the establishment of the Institute of Black Atlantic Research (IBAR), helped to run its website and co-organised several of its events (e.g. its launch with internationally renowned Black British Writer Caryl Phillips and the symposium “Lost Children: North Britain and the Black Atlantic”). Disseminating his research beyond academia into the public realm and the black community, the fellow has presented at IBAR’s Showcase in February 2014, and at the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool September 2015. Both these events were public events with members of the black community present. He also specifically presented material to the local Preston Black History Group on Haiti enabling an internationalization of what hitherto had been a group concerned with Anglophone Black cultures. He interacted with policy makers through a talk he gave on Haiti to the RESPECT Union of Black and Ethnic Minority prison staff at Preston Prison in October 2015 and with civil society through a public engagement event showcasing his work on Radical Black Cultures at the Legacies of British Slave Ownership Roadshow at the Manchester Central Library in October 2015.

The researcher’s training has shown the benefit of mobility for him with the following outcomes:

- Successfully co-supervised Mres student in Black Atlantic Culture to completion
- Acted as referee for MPhil research proposal and conducted transfer viva from MPhil to PhD.
- Gained more valuable teaching experience in American and Black Atlantic literature and culture (5 sessions in total)
- Acquired skills in website maintenance and Wordpress
- Out of more than 25 applications, three led to job interviews which help the fellow to gain more interview experience
- On the strength of his performance, the fellow was offered a nine-month contract as a Senior Research Fellow with the Institute for Black Atlantic Research at the University of Central Lancashire.