Honorable Mention, Latin American Studies Association Haiti-Dominican Republic Section Isis Duarte Book Prize
Gathering oral stories and visual art from Haiti and two of its "motherlands" in Africa, Istwa across the Water recovers the submerged histories of the island through methods drawn from its deep spiritual and cultural traditions.
Toni Pressley-Sanon employs three theoretical anchors to bring together parts of the African diaspora that are profoundly fractured because of the slave trade. The first is the Vodou concept of marasa, or twinned entities, which she uses to identify parts of Dahomey (the present-day Benin Republic) and the Kongo region as Haiti's twinned sites of cultural production. Second, she draws on poet Kamau Brathwaite's idea of tidalectics—the back-and-forth movement of ocean waves—as a way to look at the cultural exchange set in motion by the transatlantic movement of captives. Finally, Pressley-Sanon searches out the places where history and memory intersect in story, expressed by the Kreyòl term istwa.
Challenging the tendency to read history linearly, this volume offers a bold new approach for understanding Haitian histories and imagining Haitian futures.