What’s Wrong with Haiti? Politics, Development, and Discourse in Port-au-Prince.

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dc.contributor.author Joersz, Alison C.
dc.date.accessioned 2016-09-13T13:49:51Z
dc.date.available NO_RESTRICTION
dc.date.available 2016-09-13T13:49:51Z
dc.date.issued 2016
dc.date.submitted 2016
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/133187
dc.description.abstract 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. I argue that discourses about development represent a form of political contestation. In contrast to research focused on “development discourse” as a dominant ideology, I draw on linguistic anthropological conceptions of language as a form of social action. By attending to language and discourse in specific social settings, I investigate the manner in which different sites of deliberation represent sites of the political. Through discussions and debates about development, participants actively negotiate social relations, taking part in establishing, asserting, challenging and reinforcing power and status differences in relation to both their immediate interlocutors as well as the political power holders they seek to address. Existing alongside, and entangled with, discourses of development is the antagonistic political environment characterizing contemporary Port-au-Prince. Within this environment, social actors lodge critiques in a combative manner, engaging in wars of interpretation regarding how specific actors, institutions, and practices are understood. Discourse about development, in this context, serves as a means to negotiate political commitments, ultimately working to configure or reconfigure political relations both at the individual level as well as the national political level. Through an analysis of the politics of everyday life, this dissertation reveals the politically productive role discourses about development play in relation to situated individuals and contexts.
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.subject Haiti
dc.subject Discourse
dc.subject Development
dc.subject Politics
dc.subject Linguistic Anthropology
dc.title What’s Wrong with Haiti? Politics, Development, and Discourse in Port-au-Prince.
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.description.thesisdegreename PhD
dc.description.thesisdegreediscipline Anthropology
dc.description.thesisdegreegrantor University of Michigan, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies
dc.contributor.committeemember Kirsch, Stuart A
dc.contributor.committeemember Lempert, Michael Paul
dc.contributor.committeemember Jansen, Robert S
dc.contributor.committeemember Lemon, Alaina
dc.contributor.committeemember Wirtz, Kristina S
dc.subject.hlbsecondlevel Anthropology and Archaeology
dc.subject.hlbtoplevel Social Sciences
dc.description.bitstreamurl http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/133187/1/aljoersz_1.pdf
dc.owningcollname Dissertations and Theses (Ph.D. and Master's)
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