Set against the backdrop of soaring inflation, rolling blackouts, fuel riots, roadblocks, and antigovernment protests, this essay explores a new language of political crisis in Haiti that draws on the concept of unlivable life. In so doing, it seeks to directly connect political responses to crisis, such as protests over the high cost of living or government corruption, with ordinary or seemingly banal disasters, such as a capsized boat that led to the deaths of dozens of overseas migrants to show how the political crisis in Haiti appears in people’s lives in both ordinary and catastrophic ways. The essay aims to show how the Haitian concept of “the unlivable” can help us theorize the dialectical relationship between a general atmosphere of crisis and the particular effects, or ordinary disasters, to which it routinely gives rise.
Unlivable Life: Ordinary Disaster and the Atmosphere of Crisis in Haiti
Greg Beckett is an assistant professor of anthropology at Western University, London, Ontario. He has written extensively on Haitian politics, society, and history, with a focus on the lived experience of crisis and disaster. He is the author of There Is No More Haiti: Between Life and Death in Port-au-Prince (2019).
Greg Beckett; Unlivable Life: Ordinary Disaster and the Atmosphere of Crisis in Haiti. Small Axe 1 July 2020; 24 (2 (62)): 78–95. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-8604502
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