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      Migration, Memory and Longing in Haitian Songs



            With over three million Haitians living abroad and the nation’s reliance on remittances and other forms of exchange for its survival, Haiti is shaped by an imagined transnational community found within and outside its geographic borders. In this article, we explore music as a prominent cultural form bound up in identity, examine the structural inequalities that have made migration the principal strategy for surviving social, political, and economic turmoil, and consider migration’s impact on transnational families. Through Haiti’s folk, konpa, and rap music genres, we explore how songs of migration evoke and suspend memory, express longing, and convey hope for (re)connection between migrants and those in Haiti. These songs exemplify cultural identity, authenticity, and innovation as they recount the perseverance, pain, and suffering of Haitians on both sides of the Caribbean Sea. This musical dialogue suggests solidarity but also signals antagonism between those living abroad and those who remain in the homeland. In examining this cultural form, we conclude that what is revealed in this music is what’s truly at stake in Haitian migration: more than the survival of families, it is also the hope for revival of a faltering nation.


            Author and article information

            Zanj: The Journal of Critical Global South Studies
            14 June 2022
            : 5
            : 1/2
            : 193-227
            [1 ] Interuniversity Institute for Research and Development (INURED) Haiti

            Published under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International ( CC BY 4.0). Users are allowed to share (copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format) and adapt (remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially), as long as the authors and the publisher are explicitly identified and properly acknowledged as the original source.

            Data sharing not applicable to this article as no datasets were generated or analysed during the current study.
            Economic development,Labor & Demographic economics,Arts,General social science,Development studies,Cultural studies
            Global South,Migration,imagine community,transnational identity,diaspora,Haiti,music,Caribbean,survival,cultural identity


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