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24722: Benson (reply) re: 24661: KWhite: HSA Conference 2005
Legrace Benson <email@example.com>
Re HSA Political stance
The Haitian Studies Association throughout its existence has hoped for
meetings in Haiti as a means by which to support the fullest possible
participation in the organization by interested Haitian scholars, artists,
musicians, writers, historians, educators, scholars of religions, medical
people and others who are engaged in the study of any aspect of Haitian past
present and future. Many, but not all, have academic appointments. In the
conferences over the years, there have been presented many different
opinions and stances.
The organization itself takes no partisan stances. There have been times
when an action by the organization has been interpreted as politically
partisan. These are interpretations, rather than the intent of this
multi-disciplinary, multi-opinioned group of people.
Many factors go into a decision about where to meet. The first is always
to maximize participation and above all, participation by Haitians in Haiti,
many of whom do not enjoy the generous travel budgets some North American
institutions offer their faculty and researchers.
Other factors include local institutional support and invitations, travel
costs, and, it must be said, safety. Some in the organization are more
concerned about safety than others, some have stronger reserve about current
information on security than others. There is always a discussion. To my
knowledge the final decision has always been based upon practicalities and
upon current perceptions of security/feasibility and never upon the choice
as any form of sign of approval of any government that may be in office at
the moment of choice. I am aware that perceptions of the decisions read-in
such approvals or disapprovals.
The membership is much focused on the careful, thorough study of all aspects
of Haiti and the thoughtful promulgation of knowledge gained to as wide an
audience as possible. I speak as an active member of the organization for
nearly two decades, including service as a member of the Board.
Please note that this statement is mine alone and should not be understood
to be an official statement by the Board or by any individual member