Haitian Studies Association

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Working across Disciplines toward an Environmental Understanding for Haiti

Through this working session, we aim to (1) define a set of recommendations for management of Haitian land and natural resources in a time of climate change and profound environmental challenges, and (2) develop more effective models of environmental communication moving forward. Haitian history bears numerous approaches to environmental policy, ranging from excessive resource exploitation (at the level of central government) to a more balanced exchange that sees humans as integral participants within the ecosystem (at the level of a decentralized rural population). The balance of power weighted toward the former pole has brought large-scale destruction of ecosystems and loss of resources. Furthermore, such externally imposed policies as those of the United States Occupation (1915–34) have exacerbated the erosion of Haiti’s ecosystems. Today, Haiti ranks among the most vulnerable nations to climate change.

We hope to include Haitianists from a range of academic disciplines (natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities) and practitioners with diverse language, gender, and generational perspectives. This working session will examine case studies of programs directly involved in such initiatives as shoreline restoration, forestry, water resources management, and sustainable agricultural programs. We are particularly seeking those who can report on cooperative collaborations with ordinary residents, citing their insights, concerns, advice, and resistance. Participants will identify models with the potential to revolutionize policy and compile a set of future possibilities based on grounded realities.

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