This essay tells the story of Estrea Jean Gilles, a nineteen-year-old girl who was killed by Marines during the US occupation of Haiti (1915–34). With the crash described as an “unavoidable” accident and the documents cataloged under “miscellaneous,” Estrea’s archived life guides this study of transnational practices of anti-Black violence and accounts for the possibilities of Black women’s futures beyond their record of disappearance. Naming the layered applications, quotidian quality, and refusals of physical, psychological, and archival violence during the US occupation, this essay ultimately considers experimental historical practices as an opportunity to intervene in the presumed teleology of Black women’s lives through the practice of archival offering.
Archive as Offering: Haiti and Historical Possibility
Grace L. Sanders Johnson is a historian and visual artist, and assistant professor of Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Her areas of study include modern Caribbean history, transnational feminisms, oral history, and environmental humanities. She is author of White Gloves, Black Nation: Women, Citizenship, and Political Wayfaring in Haiti (forthcoming).
Grace L. Sanders Johnson; Archive as Offering: Haiti and Historical Possibility. Small Axe 1 November 2022; 26 (3 (69)): 1–13. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-10211808
Download citation file: