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Carnival and Creativity: Sounding Community in Post-Katrina New Orleans and Post-Quake Haiti

Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 4:30pm

 

Co-sponsored by the Music Department, the Center for the Humanities, the Center for International Studies, and the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights.

On August 23, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans. Roughly five years later, on January 12, 2010, a massive earthquake rocked the small island nation of Haiti. These cataclysmic events, this shared experience of trauma, added a further layer of connection between these two regions, already linked by their shared African and French heritage, the legacy of colonialism, and the experience of slavery that made Louisiana and Haiti home to vibrant, thriving Afro-diasporic communities.

February 2016, therefore, represents the 10th and 5th anniversaries (respectively) of the first Pre-Lenten celebrations – Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Carnival in Haiti – to follow these social and environmental catastrophes. In New Orleans and Port-Au-Prince alike, Carnival did what Carnival always does: it gave the community a chance to come together in solidarity in the face of struggle; it provided an opportunity to heal from trauma; and it offered a moment for people who are often ignored – especially within the upper echelons of global social and economic power – to give voice and movement to their struggles and their triumphs through song and dance and celebration. These Mardi Gras and Carnival celebrations showed us the remarkable power that music, dance, and art have to heal and to empower individuals and communities.

On February 11-12 at Grinnell College, we will pay tribute to those individuals and communities with a series of events that mark the 10th and 5th anniversaries of the 2006 and 2011 Carnival celebrations:

• Thursday, Feb. 11, 4:30-6:30pm, BCA 102 - New Orleans Brass Band Workshop with Bennie Pete, tuba and co-founder, Hot 8 Brass Band

• Thursday, Feb. 11, 7:30-9pm, BCA 152 - "If You Don't Like What the Big Queen Says, Just...": An Evening With Queen Reesie (Cherice Harrison-Nelson, curator of the Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame and Big Queen of the Guardians of the Flame Mardi Gras Indians)

• Friday, Feb. 12, 4:15-6pm, BCA 152 - Carnival and Creativity Roundtable Discussion
o Discussants: Gage Averill, University of British Columbia; Cherice Harrison-Nelson, Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame; Tess Kulstad, Grinnell College; Bennie Pete, Hot 8 Brass Band; moderated by Mark Laver, Grinnell College

• Friday, Feb. 12, 8-9:30pm, Sebring Lewis - Grinnell Jazz Ensemble Plays the Music of New Orleans, featuring Bennie Pete and Cherice Harrison-Nelson. Directed by Mark Laver.