INTRODUCTION TO THE WEB SITE
Like a lot of people who visit Haiti, I have become involved in a long-term relationship with the country. I was fascinated immediately with its culture—especially the music, religion and art of everyday people. I would like to start a new cliché about Haiti: instead of its being known as “the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere,” I think it should be considered “one of the culturally richest countries in the Western Hemisphere.” I have researched and learned a little bit about the vibrant culture of Haiti, and published a book on the Rara festivals, Rara! Vodou, Power and Performance in Haiti and its Diaspora, plus several albums and articles.
After my book on Rara came out in 2002, internet technology made it possible to display the photographs and videotape that I made in Haiti, together with my friends and collaborators, especially Chantal Regnault, who walked with me in numerous Raras all over Haiti. This website also treats its viewers to the excellent, 15-minute film by Verna Gillis, the photos of Syndey Byrd, and sections of the recent film by Jeremy Robins. You will see many Rara bands, including La Belle Fraicheur de l'Anglade in Fermathe, Mande Gran Moun in Darbonne, Rara La Fleur Ginen in Bel Air, Rara Inorab Kapab in Cite Soleil, and Rara Ya Seizi in Verettes.
My hope is that people interested in Rara will be able to use this website—students, musicians, artists, travelers, other researchers. My idea is that it will serve as a companion-piece to my book on Rara. I therefore do not include large sections of the book, but include short sections, and then refer the viewer to sections of the book for further information. I have in mind particularly college students, who may be assigned to read the book in their classes. If you are such a student, I hope you find the book and this website useful!