Faculty Articles


Diasporic Lakou A Haitian Academic Explores Her Path to Haiti Pre- and Post-Earthquake

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2011

Publication Title

Harvard Educational Review




Summer 2011


In this essay, Charlene Désir reflects on her role as an academic from the Haitian diaspora and her journey to reconnect to her Haitian roots after the 2010 earthquake. Désir begins by exploring her family background and the centrality of lakou—a sacred family space in which to connect to her ancestors and cultural ways of knowing. By centering the conversation on community and reciprocity, she considers the roles and responsibilities of academics in the diaspora to give back to their communities. This essay tells the story of her experiences in Saint-Raphael, Haiti, developing the Lakou Solèy Academic Enrichment and Cultural Arts Center. In examining her own role in her community—or lakou—Désir underscores the importance of using Haitian epistemology in the process of rebuilding Haiti.

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