When an earthquake devastated the area around the Haitian capital city in January 2010, Laurent Dubois, a historian of Haiti working in the United States, was struck by the extent of the general ignorance about Haiti in the United States, and at the same time, at least for some, the curiosity to learn more about it. Inspired by his conversations with colleagues, journalists, and the general public, he authored a scholarly book that examined Haiti's understudied nineteenth century. Greg Grandin, a historian of Latin America, has likewise spent his career both overturning received truths about the region's history and present-day politics and confronting an often dangerously misinformed public as well as his academic peers. In this discussion with Gary Wilder held at a public forum in 2012, Dubois and Grandin, both scholars who have taken an especially active part in debates both in and outside academia, discuss their work and reflect on the importance as well as the challenges of practicing politically engaged history in light of the distorted views of the past that many in the United States share about Latin America and the Caribbean.

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