The Anthropology of Survival in Post-Earthquake Haiti: Institutional Predators, Individual Maneuver
Haiti’s Challenges: Rebuilding Lives and Nation in the Earthquake’s Aftermath
Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, University of Florida
Place of Publication:
The Anthropology of Survival in Post-Earthquake Haiti: Institutional Predators, Individual Maneuver by Dr. Gerald Murray, Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, University of Florida; 7 February 2011, 7:30 pm Ustler Atrium. The direct victims of the Haitian earthquake of January 2010 were those who lost their lives, limbs, and/or homes. But the tragedy also exacerbated the already stressful economic and social conditions in which virtually the entire Haitian population was living before the earthquake. The post-earthquake rallying cry among knowledgeable Haitians was not to “rebuild Haiti” but to “redesign Haiti.” However, those same patterns of institutional predation by well-entrenched financial gatekeepers – both Haitian and foreign – are gearing up for business as usual in hand-rubbing expectation of the billions that have been promised by the outside world. Based on his anthropological fieldwork in Haiti both before and after the earthquake, Dr. Murray discusses the multiple economic and migratory survival strategies that individual Haitian kin groups are activating in total mistrust of their government and in total skepticism of developmental rhetoric about Haiti’s future.
Professor Emeritus Gerald Murray has done extended fieldwork in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and has engaged in applied contract assignments in 15 countries for 27 public and private agencies. In Haiti, he designed and directed an agroforestry project that facilitated trees to over a quarter of a million farm families during a 20 year period. He has also worked with Save the Children (since the earthquake), USAID, and other NGOs on projects related to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Recent applied research assignments include child slavery in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, potential conflicts surrounding planned dam construction that would flood out farming communities near the Panama Canal, and a month of fieldwork on the Gaza Strip among Hebrew-speaking farmers being shelled by Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the turbulent weeks immediately preceding their planned expulsion and involuntary relocation by the Israeli government. He has written three books, 27 articles and book chapters, and 59 applied anthropological reports. He has studied fifteen languages (some extinct) and have interviewed and/or conversed in eight.
Sponsored by the Caleb and Michele Grimes Fund in the CLAS Dean's Office and organized by the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere.
University of Florida
University of Florida
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