A Comparative Study of Culture and Cultural Heritage in Humanitarian Aid Efforts: Post-Earthquake Haiti and Post-Tsunami Aceh

This thesis explores how cultural knowledge, beliefs, and practices affected the humanitarian aid response to disasters in Haiti and Aceh Province, Indonesia. It examines the importance of local knowledge in post-disaster response situations and how aid workers’ “expertise” interplays with local knowledge, decision-making structures, and leadership. I questioned how knowledge of cultural practices could contribute to a more effective humanitarian aid approach and identified housing, social institutions and local leadership, economic systems, religious belief and practice as primary focuses. Examples detail how cultural beliefs and practices—as well as cultural heritage—may be vehicles for social stability and advance recovery in the social and economic spheres.