Sonic Signatures of Trauma in Haiti

Haitian Flag

This three-pronged exhibit was created by students in Trauma and Global Mental Health in Haiti, a course co-taught by Deborah Jenson and Bonnie Kaiser at Duke in fall 2015. The course explores the genesis of the diagnostic rubric of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its relationship to local cultural context, with Haiti serving as a case study. Bridging global health, medical humanities, and literature, students read fiction and prose by Edwidge Danticat to bring historical and contemporary risks, ramifications, and co-morbidities of traumatic stress in Haiti into focus.
Working in teams, students collaborated on three mini-exhibits. One group chose to focus on sound from the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, known in Kreyòl as as “Goudou Goudou.” Another group illuminates the myriad sounds of Danticat’s memoir Brother I’m Dying (2007), while the third group focuses on her novel, The Dew Breaker (2004), which chronicles the Duvalier era in Haiti. After an interactive skype session with the class, author Edwidge Danticat created her own recorded entry to the Sonic Dictionary, which you can listen to here: Haitian Crisis Expressions.