Tectonic Shifts

COVER Tectonic shiftsTectonic Shifts: Haiti Since the Earthquake
Edited by Mark Schuller and Pablo Morales
2012, Kumarian Press
271 pages

IN RETROSPECT, it is easy to see why catastrophic quake of January 2012 that killed as many as 316,000 people in Haiti and made many more destitute complemented the image of a country already struggling to remain viable. It was easy for the world’s media and many of those in the rarefied echelons of multilateral governance that have so often been the cause, not the solution, of underdevelopment to nod their heads and conclude that this was just one more sorry episode in the nation’s unrelenting history of decline. Yet as Mark Schuller and Pablo Morales point out in this excellent overview of ways in which the impact of the quake can be understood, the reality on the ground was often quite different to the expectations. Their opening shot is to point out that Haitians responded in the immediate aftermath of this disaster by pulling together in a living example of the longstanding tradition of youn ede lòt – solidarity. As the editors write: “Given the inequalities that marginalize Haiti, particularly the poor majority, the points of view presented to date are dominated by white, foreign do-gooders, either volunteer missions or professional humanitarians. Their stories necessarily celebrate their good intentions and minimize and even denigrate the contribution of Haitians, while also often failing to fully and accurately report the many difficulties that too many Haitians still face.” [p. 3] Tectonic Shifts aims to put the Haitian quake in context by examining how it exposed centuries of underdevelopment and the impact of more recent economic orthodoxies on social inequality and exclusion within the country. This book explores where Haiti fits into the geopolitical landscape of a Caribbean region dominated by the US, how the quake exposed existing inequalities and failed policies, and the shifting political terrain on which Haitian society has tried to come to terms with its own problems. It is a comprehensive and timely overview of the many problems that this country faces, where culpability lies, and why, by itself, it has not been able to resolve these. – EC

Latin American Review of Books – Latamrob www.latamrob.com

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