Friday, July 13, 2012

Michel-Rolph Trouillot Has Died

Michel-Rolph Trouillot passed away on 5 July 2012 in Chicago surrounded by his family. He was an outstanding Haitian anthropologist and historian and Professor at the University of Chicago.

Michel-Rolph Trouillot

In 2011, Dr. Trouillot was awarded the “Frantz Fanon Lifetime Achievement” which is given each year by the Association of Philosophers of the Caribbean to a distinguished intellectual for his contribution to Caribbean study and thought.

Paul Krugman noted the influence of Trouillot's book Peasants and Capital: Dominica in the World Economy. “Trouillot truly showed how to merge the empirical data of economic anthropology, geography, and world-systems theory.” Krugman discussed how Trouillot’s recommendation of self-centered development and food production (1988:295) led to a peasant-centered approach. Anthropology changed the frame of reference for economic development. “Using the example from Dominica, we were able to successfully convince the Obama administration of the need for an employment agenda, targeted at the poorest, and fortifying local economies through self-centered development.”

Here is an excerpt from the preface to Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History: “I grew up in a family where history sat at the dinner table. All his life my father engaged in a number of parallel professional activities, none of which defined him, but most of which were steeped in his love of history.”

He once wrote, "We are never as steeped in history as when we pretend not to be, but if we stop pretending we may gain in understanding what we lose in false innocence. Naiveté is often an excuse for those who exercise power. For those upon whom that power is exercised, naiveté is always a mistake."


  1. Thank you for posting this. I apologize for any confusion, but the Paul Krugman quote is not real. I was trying to make a comment on the lack of influence of anthropology in the mainstream news and composed the first part as a satire. While I thought it would be clear that in fact Krugman has never convinced the Obama administration to concentrate on jobs, this story has apparently been taken as real. Here is the link where I attempt to clarify--The Headline I Wish We Were Reading: Anthropology Changed Everything--and again apologies for any confusion.


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