Haitian Music and Cultural Approaches to Development: Building a Dynamic Online Network


I am completing a book on music and development in Haiti before and after the 2010 earthquake. This has entailed the ethnographic study of numerous Haitian social and civic organizations working at the grassroots level that employ music as an explicit and fundamental tool to strengthen their local communities. To accompany this book, I aim to build a dynamic online network that can (1) demonstrate the wealth of cultural activity taking place in this regard, and (2) connect already engaged groups and others interested in becoming supporting partners. I envision creating a space that can showcase musically engaged organizations through descriptive spotlights but also developing a platform to share selected research materials related to these efforts in a public venue. Research partners will assist with the development of this online project at every step—from brainstorming to curating materials to online design and production.

I seek research partners concentrating in fields such as ethnomusicology (musicology), music, anthropology, sociology, African and African American studies, or international development. I’m hoping to assemble a team of two or three individuals that together have fluency with web design, development, and mapping; digital humanities; social networking; basic audio and video editing (Final Cut Pro preferred); (predominantly online) research; reference management software (e.g., Zotero). Those interested in joining this team should have a good eye for design and functionality, excellent attention to detail, enthusiasm, and an eagerness to learn together with the group—including with me. Ability in Haitian Kreyòl and/or French would be a definite plus but is not necessary. Some administrative work may be involved. The time commitment should not be onerous and scheduling will be flexible.

I anticipate that research partners will bring numerous insights about content and form to the project, and perspectives from a born-digital generation that would assist with building the strongest possible online presentation. I strongly advocate a multi-modal approach to presentation of research materials, which involves finding multiple and often contrasting ways to make information accessible to various types of audiences. That commitment adds a great deal of time to completing any research project. Having assistants will enable the work to proceed much more efficiently than if I were to try to put things together on my own.

By the end of the year, students will be able to include the final online presentation in their professional portfolio as a team project that they will have each played a significant role in shaping. They will gain experience working with a small research group to take a project from scratch to publication; the project has tremendous latitude and good potential to have value for the profiled cultural organizations and the Haitian arts community more broadly, and to those interested in alternative development models.