Haitian Studies Association

Working Groups

HSA's Working Groups engage the existing membership and involve new partners in important conversations about underlying issues, practices and policies in and about Haiti. They serve as forums for the exchange of ideas, strategies, and resources between participants and create opportunities for networking, collaboration, and professional support.


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SOIL Haiti – A Circular Economy Model for Urban Sanitation in Vulnerable Communities

Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) is a Haiti-based non-profit social enterprise that is setting a global example for how to affordably and sustainably provide safely managed sanitation in rapidly growing urban communities. Since 2006, SOIL has been working to provide access to in-home sanitation through its EkoLakay toilet service. Its circular economy approach includes providing in-home toilets, the collection and treatment of wastes, and the transformation of that waste into rich, organic compost. SOIL’s work sits at the intersection of human rights, environmental justice, and economic development, and we are proud of our long-term commitment to Haiti.

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Documentary Screening: ‘Men Sa Lanmè Di’ with Q&A with Filmmaker & Marine Scientist (July 17, 2021)

From its trailer text: “The Haitian Sea as you’ve never seen or heard it before. In this documentary, the Sea tells its story with the Haitian people. Wave after wave, the Sea showcases its riches, reveals its mysteries, and raises the alarm. From the excessive use of its resources to the consequences of climate change and pollution, the Sea displays its different shades of blue and suggests opportunities to seize. This film is an invitation to travel, discover, and also to raise awareness. Haiti’s future lies in its coasts or will not be.”

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March 14, 2021
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Call for proposals – H.S.A. Working Groups (2021)

Last year the H.S.A. piloted Working Sessions, to great enthusiasm from our members. The five live webinars from three Working Sessions were well attended, and generated interest to keep this series of bottom-up interdisciplinary spaces going.

Members like you have asked for new ways of connecting, being involved, and many of you have expressed the desire to make our collective scholarship relevant to conversations in policymaking, philanthropy, and legislation regarding Haiti. We know that cultivating a diverse and inclusive scholarly community, a lakou, is one of the ongoing strengths of our association. Working Groups will both build on this strength and foster more engaged scholarship.

Last year’s pilot experience with Working Sessions has shown us that synchronous, online events can work for members, who expressed a strong desire for more regular events this year. We also learned about the process, sharpened our focus, and reminded of the still very pronounced digital divide regarding our colleagues in Haiti.

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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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