Humanitarian aid to Haiti has both positive and negative effects on a country that is already in a state of turmoil. Considering the aspects of education, economics, and the political climate in Haiti, and after conducting both academic research and primary source interviews from those affected firsthand by these issues, I concluded that outside aid and volunteerism to Haiti, and other third-world countries like it, is ultimately ineffective. Donations coming into Haiti are doing more harm than good because the amount of goods being gathered and shipped to Haiti combined with the instability and corruption of the government in that area is detrimental to the economic progression of the nation. As a country struggling with an internal economy, the constant influx of goods keeps local vendors and business owners from starting up their own industries, constantly forcing money to circulate out of the country. As a nation, Haiti has faced many hardships, including natural disasters, and the response from other countries is not always positive. The current and most pressing issues they face today are a lack of education and the abundance of political corruption that is keeping the country in a perpetual cycle of poverty. Outside countries that simply provide donations and resources to Haiti usually serve to enable this cycle when the most effective strategy is to empower the people of Haiti to help themselves.
This research-creation PhD thesis contributes to recent debates about what journalism could (or should) be in today's fast-changing media landscape by focusing on graphic reportage, a journalistic approach that relies on the drawn medium of comics. In order to assess how working in this drawn form might affect the practices that journalists use in their work, I reflect critically on my process of making Picturing Aid in Haiti, a work of graphic reportage about humanitarian interventions in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. I carried out fieldwork for this graphic project in 2013 in Port-au-Prince, where I recorded a series of interviews with Haitians who lived for more than three years in a displacement camp. During this fieldwork, I also interviewed humanitarian workers and local landowners, and I documented what I observed through notes, photographs and sketches. Based on this research, I wrote the script for a graphic book, and I began illustrating and designing sample panels and pages of graphic reportage. In my research for this graphic project, I consciously sought out information and points of view often neglected in international news coverage of humanitarian interventions in places like Haiti. Reflecting on the interviews and observational research I carried out in Haiti, I show in this thesis that the approach of graphic reportage facilitated this process. Discussing specific excerpts from my graphic project, which serves as a platform for the words, stories and images that different interviewees contributed to this project, I demonstrate that this drawn form of journalism can open up space for exploring the perspectives of people like displaced Haitians whose voices, agency and histories are often missing or negated in the news. Through specific examples from Picturing Aid in Haiti, which also foregrounds some of the complex dynamics involved in my own process of researching, writing and visually representing aid in a Haitian camp, this thesis also shows that graphic reportage has the potential to encourage greater reflexivity in journalism.
For years, scholars have investigated the effectiveness of aid dollars. Some scholars measure aid effectiveness at the country level in terms of achieving good governance, promoting democratic accountability, accomplishing growth…
This dissertation examines the pragmatic effects of discourse about development in Haiti. It focuses on discussions within and beyond two development organizations operating in Port-au- Prince, revealing the ways in which politics and development are intimately entangled. Attention to the idea of development and its associated practices are a common feature of everyday interactions and often seek to address the question of “What’s wrong with Haiti?” Much as this question implies failure, discussions on the topic of development attempt to diagnose deficiencies, identify historical causes, and imagine solutions in the form of directed social change. Development serves as a temporal frame through which ideas about action, agency, and causality are embedded. Highlighting a need for social improvement, development also represents a moral obligation. Debates attending to past development failures and future efforts often work to allocate responsibility in particular ways.
A Haitian proverb suggests that the country has long been a sliding land, a site of uncertainty and chronic catastrophe. On January 12, 2010, Haiti collapsed suddenly into sudden, telegenic disaster when a devastating earthquake hit its capital, Port-au-Prince, killing hundreds of thousands of people and destroying much of the city. The disaster both gave rise to an unprecedented urban displacement crisis, and engendered the promise of humanitarian and reconstruction aid and a flow of moral sentiment.