Kreyòl Translations: Introduction

A year ago, Laurence Jay-Rayon Ibrahim Aibo and AJ Kelton of Montclair State University inquired about collaborating on Haitian Creole (Kreyòl) translations of the twenty-four documents currently featured on Colony in Crisis. Laurence, then director of the Center for Translation Studies and AJ, the co-director of the nascent MSU Digital Humanities Center, explained that two Haitian students at MSU––Daphney Vastey and Pierre Malbranche––were interested in translating the documents as a part of their translation studies coursework.

Since January, the exchange of ideas between our project team and our new members at MSU has been enriching. In order to complete the translations in stages, the team at MSU proposed translating the first three documents of Issue 1.0 in an independent study format. During various Skype sessions, we shared research notes and translation strategies so that Laurence could properly guide Daphney and Pierre through their work. After Daphney and Pierre finished complete drafts of the translations, they had the chance to present before a group of scholars at MSU. Listening to them talk about their experiences as translators, seeing the colonial archive of Haiti as not merely a French archive, but the material traces of Haitian history was illuminating. In October, the project received a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, which has contributed greatly to its sustainability.

Thanks to Daphney, Pierre, Laurence, and AJ, our project has grown in an important direction, towards reaching students of Haitian Creole in Haiti and in the diaspora. The meaning of this step is not lost on us as we live in a world increasingly more hostile towards the teaching of foreign language, in a country where the government has ended the Temporary Protected Status program for Haitians living in the US, and when Haiti continues to be occupied by the United Nations. For these reasons, among many, it is crucial to turn to Haitian Creole as a mode of instruction, as means of accessing the past, and as a practice for shaping the future of Haitian Studies (others have indeed already signaled this necessity).

Three years after our initial launch in September 2014, we are pleased to introduce the first three translations in Haitian Creole. This new addition to Colony in Crisis welcomes new members to the team and the creation of a Haitian Creole Board of Advisors. Translators Daphney Vastey and Pierre Malbranche, as well as Laurence Jay-Rayon Ibrahim Aibo, the director of the Haitian Creole project, and our advisors who review each translation, Cécile Accilien and Laura Wagner. Without everyone involved, this endeavor would not have been possible, mèsi anpil.

—Nathan, Kelsey, Abby, and Brittany