June 22, 2011

In My Own Words...Marie Nadine Pierre

My name is Marie Nadine Pierre and I participated in the Caribbean Writers Seminar in the summer of 1994 and 1995. I took the theory course with Professor Michael Dash and the literature course with Dr. Sandra Paquet. I also participated in the translation institute. I loved the CWSI and I found the program exciting and thrilling. I met some very interesting people and really well known established writers and scholars in the field of Caribbean Studies. I had obtained a Bachelor of Arts in African and African Diaspora literature from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. The CWSI provided me with a great opportunity to network with folks whom I had read about and to do more in depth study of issues that I contemplated in College.

I was born in East New York, Brooklyn on June 15, 1969. My parents were first generation Haitian-Americans. They had met and married in New York City. Unfortunately, due to their separation and subsequent divorce, my father decided that it was best to send and my sister to live with his father in Leoganne/Leyogann/Yogann, Ayiti/Haiti. I was about 1 when I arrived there and 11 when we returned to live in New York. 

The issue of transnational identity and "citizenship" is very important to me. I feel like I am always on the borders of many national and ethnic identities simultaneously. For instance, as a Nyabinghi RastafarI, I feel that my lifestyle and belief is most important in my daily life. Still, I must grapple with the reality of being a transnational 2nd generation Haitian-American often. These aspects of my ethno-sociological biography are not being analyzed in the Social Sciences. And perhaps that is why I find it so hard to be me. 

I hope that the CWSI re-starts with a strong commitment to courses and discussions that will consider the issues of trans-nationalism, ethnicity, migration and lifestyle (RastafarI) as they are re-presented in fiction by writers in the Caribbean and its diaspora as well as in theoretical texts. I am very happy that the CWSI will begin anew for others to participate.

My Work

My graduate work in the doctoral program at the University of Pennsylvania focused a great deal on material culture, specifically belief, foodways, migration, fashion, and dress. I was also very concerned about identifying, collecting, and analyzing body-lore. I worked with Haitian immigrants of various generations. I decided to do my dissertation research in Miami in the 1995 because I felt that the Haitian community was diverse and accessible and there were plenty of material to work with. Later, I matriculated in the Ph.D. program in Comparative (Anthropology)/Sociology department at Florida International University. My work focused on Haitian immigrants with a specific concentration on gender issues. I hoped to complete a dissertation about the Haitian female experience with body and dress or fashion. The sociological variables of color (shade of black), region of origin in Ayiti/Haiti, age, generation, class and race were important. 

Currently, I am hoping to work with Haitian folklore and folk life in the diaspora. I am hoping to find ways that these narratives of various genres can help to shed light on the Haitian migration experience.


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