Scholar of the Week
Bertin Louis, assistant professor of anthropology and Africana studies, examines the growth of Protestant forms of Christianity among Haitians transnationally. He also studies stateless Bahamians of Haitian Descent.
In December 2014, Louis’ book My Soul is in Haiti: Protestantism in the Haitian Diaspora of the Bahamas (2014) was published by the nationally recognized NYU Press. In My Soul Is in Haiti, Louis combined his multi-sited five-year ethnographic research in the United States, Haiti, and the Bahamas with a transnational framework to analyze why Protestantism has appealed to the Haitian diaspora community in the Bahamas. His book illustrates how devout Haitian Protestant migrants use their religious identities to ground themselves in a place that is hostile to them as migrants, and it also uncovers how their religious faith ties in to their belief in the need to “save” their homeland, as they re-imagine Haiti politically and morally as a Protestant Christian nation.
His book has already received positive reviews stating, “As a Haitian-American, Louis is cognizant of the subtleties of Haitian culture and the cultural differences between Haitians living in Haiti and Haitians living abroad. A major strength of this book is the author’s keen recognition of the importance of boundary maintenance and his insights into native constructions of ‘religion,’ such as the distinction Haitians make between being Protestant (Pwotestan) and being Christian (Kretyen).” In addition to his new publication, Louis has received a 2013 Southeastern Conference Faculty Travel Grant and was a 2012 American Anthropological Association Leadership Fellow.