Theses Doctoral

"Cutting Earth": Haiti, Soil Conservation, and the Tyranny of Projects

Freeman, Scott

The extreme and violent deforestation of rural Haiti has led to a proliferation of environmental conservation aid over the past sixty years. In "Cutting Earth": Haiti, Soil Conservation, and the Tyranny of Projects, I provide an ethnographic examination of environmental conservation and the consequences and prevalence of 'the project' as a form of development aid. I analyze the history of soil conservation in Haiti, the increasing presence of `projects' in the countryside, the audit culture of aid, and the resulting impacts on environmental government and subjectivities. I focus on the largely ineffective, yet ubiquitous contour canal interventions.

While ineffective at retaining soil, these canals become `successful' through their ability to be measured and accounted for as a development project. The growing prevalence of projects forms new relationships in the countryside and a political economy in which the acquisition, disbursal, and accounting of the project become of primary interest. This research demonstrates how logics inherent in the project form undermine environmental conservation and foster new norms and subjectivities in rural Haiti. Through an ethnographic account of how technologies of aid permeate rural Haiti, this research contributes to contemporary political ecology, Haitian studies, and the anthropology of development.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Bartlett, Lesley
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 7, 2014