Colloquium Announcement: Saint Phard Michel on the Experience of Anthropology

Published: October 8th, 2014

Category: Department Events, FASA, Featured, Students

The Florida Anthropological Student Associations hosts weekly colloquia to showcase our graduate students’ and faculty’s research interests, to give them valuable opportunities to practice or refine their presentation techniques, and to help connect UF anthropologists.

Our next colloquium will be Friday, October at 4pm in Rinker 110:

Saint Phard Michel

“An Ethnographic Informant’s Perspective on the Anthropological and Development Process: Why You Need Us “

You are invited to listen to an unconventional 45 minute talk on America, Anthropology, and why we want to know “Poor” Others, delivered by a Haitian teacher—a prior subject of anthropological research—and a recipient-participant in numerous non-governmental aid projects.

Saint Phard Michel’s life has intersected with a number of American projects in Haiti, and his perspective can offer tremendous insight into the effects of anthropology and development in local life histories. In his lifetime, he has seen the rise and fall of Aristide, the birth of new election processes, the waxing and waning of NGO interest in his small town, and the popularization of anthropological studies focusing alternately on disaster, need, or Haitian Vodou practice. Where is the space for joy, for normalcy, for the heroism of lives well-lived in these stories? Saint Phard graduated from a nearby high school in Arcahaie and independently sought an English certificate in downtown Port Au Prince, which he brought back to his village in order to offer lessons to local adults and young students. In his life, Saint Phard has farmed a plantain garden, ran into a deadly kitchen fire to save the lives of fellow workers, received food aid from foreign charities, worked small jobs in countless NGO programs, and pulled Haitians from the wreckage of the 2010 earthquake when foreign workers and US soldiers were immobile. Yet his life path is shared by so many in his town, and it reveals the everyday triumphs, desires, and hopes which are too often buried under one-sided American accounts of destitution and social degeneration. On leave from an English teaching position at an NGO in a coastal village, and in the USA for the first time, Saint Phard will offer surprising and sometimes uncomfortable insight into American life, the enterprise of Anthropology, and why we need a ‘destitute’ Haiti, and a world ‘in need’ in order to make sense of our own lives.


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