This essay takes two images of Haitian girls in Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake: On Blackness and Being as a point of departure to reflect on the iconography of Haitian suffering. It argues that Sharpe’s claim that the Haitian girl in the photo taken in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake “occupies the center of the work” is thrown into question when her work is juxtaposed with literary narratives that feature Haitian girl protagonists, such as Evelyne Trouillot’s The Infamous Rosalie and Laura Wagner’s Hold Tight, Don’t Let Go. These narratives by Trouillot and Wagner actively center Haitian girls while recognizing the dynamics of the wake that Sharpe outlines throughout her study. As such they offer an example of what it means to imagine Haitian girlhood “otherwise.”
Occupying the Center: Haitian Girlhood and Wake Work
Régine Michelle Jean-Charles is an associate professor of Romance languages and literatures, and African and African diaspora studies at Boston College. She is the author of Conflict Bodies: The Politics of Rape Representation in the Francophone Imaginary (2014) and numerous articles that have appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as Small Axe, Research in African Literatures, Journal of Haitian Studies, and French Forum. Her current book is on contemporary Haitian novels.