Writing disasters. A conversation with Linda Polman

In cooperation with the Faculty of Humanities

29okt2018 20:00 - 21:30


From one news report to the next, it might well seem that we live in times of increasingly frequent disasters, ever more numerous controversies regarding humanitarianism, and ever slower recovery. What can writing do when faced with such impossible situations?

Location: Doelenzaal, in the University Library of the UvA at Koningsplein. 

On the occasion of the publication of Disasters, Vulnerability, and Narratives: Writing Haiti’s Futures, we engage in a conversation about what we consider the task of literature and journalism in times of conflict, crisis and disaster.

Drawing on examples from Haiti and the wider Caribbean, among others, we set out to discuss the ways in which writing allows us to redefine what disasters are, to interrogate what creates disasters in the first place, and to challenge practices of international aid and recovery in crisis-struck regions. 

About the speakers

Linda Polman is a renowned Dutch freelance journalist and author of widely acclaimed books on humanitarian aid and intervention, including We Did Nothing, War Games, and The Crisis Caravan, Bòt Pipel on Haitian refugees, and Death Row Dollies on the American death row.

Kasia Mika is researcher of Caribbean studies at KITLV and teaches literary and cultural analysis at the University of Amsterdam. Her particular interest lies in the relationship between literature, environment and politics. She is the author of Disasters, Vulnerability, and Narratives: Writing Haiti’s Futures. She is also on the Exec Board of the Haiti Support Group.

Alessandra Benedicty-Kokken is Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies, with an additional appointment in French at The Graduate Center (City University New York), and affiliations to the Archimedes Institute at Hogeschool Utrecht, Radboud University, and the University of Amsterdam. Her research interests include literature and philosophy from Haiti; Jewish and Africana intellectualisms, as well interrogations of “whiteness” as a critical category. She is the author of Spirit Possession in French, Haitian, and Vodou Thought: An Intellectual History.

Rosemarijn Hoefte is a Senior researcher at KITLV & Professor of the History of Suriname since 1873 in a Comparative Perspective (University of Amsterdam). She is a leading expert on the Dutch Caribbean and Caribbean in a comparative perspective.  She is the managing editor of the New West Indian Guide. In May of 2017 Hoefte took up the position of President of the Association of Caribbean Historians. Her current projects are ‘Departing from Java’, ‘Empire and Transnationalism’, and a study of Surinamese social activist and politician Grace Schneiders-Howard.


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