spring blossoms on campus

MLL Students Translating Historical Documents into Haitian Creole

Colony in Crisis in Haitian Creole Translation: Digital Scholarship in the Making at Montclair State

The digital history project A Colony in Crisis: The Saint-Domingue Grain Shortage of 1789 is a virtual primary source document reader in translation focusing on colonial Saint-Domingue that was initiated by the University of Maryland in 2014. The reader offers three sets of curated English translations of French archival sources on political life, commerce, the lives of people of color, and the moments leading up to the Haitian Revolution.

The Center for Translation and Interpreting and Center for the Digital Humanities are now contributing to this project to offer a first set of Creole translations. Daphney Vastey and Pierre Malbranche, both French majors in the translation concentration, are the two student translators involved in the pilot phase of this endeavor. The students have been working under Dr. Laurence Jay-Rayon Ibrahim Aibo’s supervision to create digital artifacts–translation and audio recordings of their translation–for the Haitian community and Haitian Studies scholars.

These historical translations are crucial since they offer an account of colonial history in Creole as opposed to countless existing narratives in the ex-colonizers’ languages, such as French, English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Partners as of April 2017:

  • University of Maryland (initiators of Colony in Crisis)
  • Vanderbilt University (initiators of Colony in Crisis)
  • Montclair State University (initiators of the Creole Translation Project and student translators)
  • Kansas University (Haitian Scholar reviewer)
  • Duke University (Haitian Scholar reviewer)

Spring 2017 Semester Outcomes:

  • 3 translations in Haitian Creole
  • audio recordings of some translations
  • Dissemination of research (one presentation to campus community, two conferences

Future Expansion

We are looking forward to making this project sustainable and continuing working with Montclair State University students. Please contact Dr. Jay-Rayon (973-402-3949 or jayrayoni@montclair.edu if you would like to be considered for this project.