Darlène Dubuisson

  • Assistant Professor

Darlène Dubuisson received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2020. Her research interests and teaching span political and legal anthropology, activist and engaged anthropology, Black feminist anthropology, Black intellectual histories, migration and transnational studies, and speculative fiction and visual culture.

Her work weaves together analyses of Black radicalism, feminism, social and political movements, imagination, migration and diaspora, and crises and futures. Her primary geographic focus is the Caribbean and Latin America.

Degrees and Education

Columbia University

Research Description

Darlène Dubuisson’s current book project, Place-Making in a Fractured Academic Landscape, is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Port-au-Prince between 2013 and 2018. The book explores Haitian intellectual exile and academic diaspora homecomings after two would-be moments of social transformation in Haiti: post-Duvalier (1986-) and post-earthquake (2010-). The book argues that despite their internal displacement—the result of global and local fissures—returnees created "place" within and beyond Haiti's fractured academic landscape through a habitus of improvisation, rasanblaj (compilation, assembly), and imagination. The book extends theories and research on returned migrations, the anthropology of intellectuals, and the emergent anthropologies of crises and futures. It also pursues fundamental anthropological questions of displacement, home, and place through the stories and experiences of returned scholars across three decades.

Professor Dubuisson's next research project will explore new Black geographies through Haitian migration in South America. The project will examine how migrants create futures amid antiblack immigration practices and global crises. It will also look at how refugee and migrant rights organizations challenge antiblack racism and xenophobia in national contexts where the official discourse denies structural racism and the existence of a local Black population. This project will expand scholarship on Black geographies, global antiblackness, Black futurity, and new immigration control mechanisms amid crises.


Anthropology of Crises and Futures

In this course, we review theories and approaches in the study of crisis and the future. We read texts in anthropology, cultural studies, feminist studies, and SF (science/speculative fiction), which examine the relationship between crises—as products of colonialism, global capitalism, racism, and patriarchy—and imagining/enacting better futures. Specifically, we put ethnographies of crisis and disaster in conversation with SF within Afrofuturism and Afro-pessimism frameworks. We examine how crises may reveal the unsustainability of current situations (e.g., structural racism, climate change, gender disparity) and prompt social reordering.

In anthropology, the future emerged "as a developing field ... in the 2000s when the 'war on terror' and global financial crisis and its aftershocks left many people around the world unable to anticipate the following day" (Bryant and Knight 2019, 9). Following Appadurai's (2013) call for an anthropology of the future, we explore the "multiple ways of navigating the course of the quotidian" to "gain an ethnographic hold of the relationship between the future and action, including the act of imaging the future" (Bryant and Knight 2019,16). Thinking with Kelley's (2002) Black radical imagination, we discuss how Black writers, artists, and feminist activists have imagined futures amid crises. We analyze works in Afrofuturism and Afro-pessimism, which imagine divergent Black and collective futures. While the former envisions the future from an expansive Afrodiasporic perspective, the latter speculates a present-future informed by the structural and embodied realities of colonialism and racism. This course's central goal is to challenge students to integrate various approaches to produce innovative questions about current and impending issues.


Dubuisson, D. (In-press). “‘There Is a Real Generational Problem in this Country’: Haitian Intellectual Exile and Academic Diaspora Returns.” Transforming Anthropology.

Dubuisson, D. (In-press). The Haitian Zombie Motif: Against the Banality of Antiblack Violence. Journal of Visual Culture.

Dubuisson, D. (2022), Ethnography In-Sight and Sound: Rasanblaj and the Poetics of Creole Orality. The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology. https://doi.org/10.1111/jlca.12622.

Dubuisson, D. and Schuller, M. (2022), Beyond poto mitan: Challenging the “Strong Black Woman” archetype and allowing space for tenderness. Feminist Anthropology, 3: 60-74. https://doi.org/10.1002/fea2.12065.

Dubuisson, D. (2022), The (State) University of Haiti: Toward a Place-Based Understanding of Kriz. PoLAR, 45: 8-25. https://doi.org/10.1111/plar.12464.

Dubuisson, D. (2022), "Haiti: Black Utopia." Hot Spots, Fieldsights, May 3. https://culanth.org/fieldsights/haiti-black-utopia.

Dubuisson, D. (2020/21), "We Know How to Work Together": Konbit, Protest, and the Rejection of INGO Bureaucratic Dominance. Journal of Haitian Studies 26 (2): 53-80. doi:10.1353/jhs.2020.0012.