On January 12, 2010, an earthquake in Haiti sent shockwaves across the world, triggering an unprecedented international response. Not even counting the outpouring of solidarity from within Haiti, which largely went uncounted and unacknowledged, the outpouring of international aid was unparalleled in recent memory: at a March 2010 United Nations conference, world governments pledged $10 billion, with over half of those funds earmarked for the following eighteen months.
In this article, I explore the limits of dominant historiographies of Haiti to examine and challenge binary frameworks within discourses of globalization and civil society. I employ a comparative, longue durée world-systems approach, discussing Haiti’s history and contemporary situation through long-term fieldwork, oral history, and published materials on Haiti’s history. Conversations with different groups of Haitian people helped me identify, analyze, and categorize two dominant historiographies.