view images from the collection, ‘The Third Heaven – photographs, Haiti, 2006-2012‘
Haiti is on the USA’s doorstep. It is the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere, and by many indicators, both economic and social, among the poorest and most at-risk nations in the world. Its history reads as one of a steadily darkening downward spiral. This nation, less than 30 years younger than its sibling republic, the USA, seems to careen drunkenly from one tragedy to another. Once a primary supplier of sugar, coffee, tobacco, indigo, cotton and cacao to Europe, Haiti has gone from a forest cover of 60% of it’s territory to less than 1% today. Similarly, its distribution of civic resources, educational systems, social services, health care, legal and regulatory frameworks, and core government infrastructure have been in near-catastrophic conditions for decades. In short, Haiti is manifesting all of what are largely believed to be the most troubling global issues of the 21st century: the environment, population and development, water and food, health and education and transparent and sustained government.
“This is a country in search of itself” said Haitian poet Syto Cavé. I believe the global community needs to pay attention to Haiti not so much to save, urgent as that need is, a desperate population from disaster, but more importantly, in order to find itself, in order to protect itself from the worst possible outcomes of cultural, political and environmental opportunism and neglect; the problem of Haiti matters to all of us. It matters that we pay attention to why Haiti struggles: it is like looking at a mirror. My photographic work from Haiti is my effort at trying to make sense of this complex dynamic. It is a narrative of disintegration and resuscitation, a traverse through a series of themes and lives. I have been visiting and working in Haiti since January, 2006. During this time, I have been inspired by the humanity, determination, tenacity and resourcefulness of the Haitian people. And I have been perplexed by the lack of government, infrastructure and relatedly, the degree to which non-governmental organizations keep this nation afloat and arguably even hold it back. What manifests in Haiti becomes relevant to all of us through the minute rendering of facts, of things. Artifacts are membranes, where what appears as explicit and immutable begins to lead us, through photography, into the more mutable realms of meaning and memory. Haiti is a disaster because of colonialism, and that memory has to be understood and transformed into a story about regeneration and benevolence.
This page lists articles and resources related to Haiti.
The Haiti Institute in Sewanee – projects established between faculty and students of The University of the South and our Haitian partner organizations and communities
Teaching Photography in Haiti – notes and links from a talk about my teaching and related work in Haiti
Haiti: The key to recovery | Marc-Andre Franche – A UNDP article, 25 Apr 2012
interview in La Informacion about Haiti and my work there. Jan. 12, 2012
Inside Disaster: Inside the Haiti Earthquake
Philip Gourevitch writes about the role of non-governmental organizations in and humanitarian aid in his article, “Alms Dealers,” The New Yorker, October 11, 2010, p. 102. Read the abstract, and consider subscribing to the magazine or purchasing the issue.
Philip Alcalbes raises a critical point, and echoes Gourevitch’s article: that public health is a political matter in his short article for the Miami Herald.
Christian Science Monitor: Haiti – Sewanee alum Mary Knox Merrill is a staff photographer for the Christian Science Monitor and reporting from Haiti. This article has some of her work – scroll down to mid point and click on the ‘Video: Earthquake Haiti’ link.
Commentary / Editorials / Resources
Architect Andrés Duany and his firm Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company on urban villages in Port Au Prince: it could be totally unrealistic or could be a visionary answer to all of Haiti’s infrastructural problems (aka ineffective government).
Haiti’s election undermines democracy – Peter Constantini for the Seattle Times: The aftershocks of Haiti’s Nov. 28 election threaten to further rattle this small nation struggling to recover from the 2010 earthquake and a cholera epidemic. Guest columnist Peter Costantini argues that democracy cannot be implanted from afar but must develop in efforts led by Haitians.
IMF to Increase Haiti’s Debt – The reasons why I think this is immoral are outlined in the next two links…
The Louverture Project collects and promotes knowledge, analysis, and understanding of the Haitian revolution of 1791–1804. This history project is committed to creating a vast, accessible, and useful open content resource. The site has an extensive list of other Haiti-realted links.
Naom Chomsky, The Tragedy of Haiti – Detailed account of why Haiti is among the poorest nations in the world. If you think it just happens to be this way, or want a handle on the depth of ignorance and offense manifested in Pat Robertson’s and Rush Limbaugh’s comments, read this first.
Richard Kim, IMF to Haiti: Freeze Public Wages – Comments and recommendations on post-earthquake aid, with an outline of the systemic and historic reasons for the lack of infrastructure that culminated in the devastation.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
Haiti Data Maps by MapAction. MapAction delivers vital information in the form of maps, created from information gathered at the disaster scene. By conveying a ‘shared operational picture’, their maps play a crucial role in delivering humanitarian aid to the right place, quickly. MapAction is distinctive in that it is one of the only non-governmental organisation (NGO) with a substantial track record in field mapping for disaster emergencies. Since 2004 they have helped in 25 emergencies including the Asian tsunami, earthquakes, volcanoes, floods and tropical storms. They claim to be able to deploy a fully trained and equipped mapping team anywhere in the world, often within a few hours of an alert.
See Philip Gourevitch article, “Alms Dealers,” The New Yorker, October 11, 2010, p. 102. Read the abstract
Letter from Camille Chalmers, PAPDA – Grassroots International received an email [post earthquake] from their partner Camille Chalmers of the Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development (PAPDA).
Partners in Health (PIH) – PIH works to bring modern medical care to poor communities in nine countries around the world. The work of PIH has three goals: to care for patients, to alleviate the root causes of disease in their communities, and to share lessons learned around the world. PIH has been working on the ground in Haiti for over 20 years. They urgently need your support to help those affected by the recent earthquake.
Organization for the Rehabilitation of the Environment (ORE) – ORE is working to improve environmental, agricultural and economic conditions in rural Haiti. Their development projects involve high revenue tree crops, improved seeds, cash crops and marketing programs. Working directly with farmers, they are able to provide practical solutions to deforestation and subsistence farming. They are rehabilitating earthquake victims and urgently seek funding support.
Charity: Water – In the last two years, charity: water has funded freshwater projects in Haiti through implementing partners Concern Worldwide and Partners In Health