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"Religious Actors in post-earthquake Haiti, their trans-regional embeddedness and their role in diminishing effects of global social inequality"

Betreuung: Prof. Dr. Ingrid Kummels

Abstract

1% of the Haitian population is in control over half of Haiti's wealth. 72,1% of Haitians are living below 2 $ a day. 42% don't have access to clean water. 22% of children under 5 are underweight. Literally every peculiarity of inequality can be found in Haiti: economic, gender-, class-, religious or ethnic- related inequities.

The present inequalities in Haiti are a direct legacy of its challenging colonial past. Trans-regional dependencies pervade Haiti's history up to the present day. Haiti's economic future largely depends on the approval of (supra)national actors like the USA, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

After the foundation of the Republic in 1804, Haiti was faced with a multitude of hardships ranging from forced reparations, political and economic isolation, autocratic and predatory leadership, occupation and heteronomy over privatisation and trade liberalisation to recurring natural disasters, epidemic diseases, indebtedness, refrained loans, and humanitarian/military interventions all of which have a direct or indirect impact on present day Haiti.

The Haitian state as well as a big part of the variety of local and global NGOs operating in Haiti have largely failed in diminishing the negative effects of globalisation in the past.

The recent devastating earthquake worsened the situation to a large extent. It claimed approximately 250 000 lives, destroyed a large part of Port-au-Prince and caused major damage in cities like Jacmel and Léogâne. Millions of people are affected by the magnitude 7.0 earthquake and its aftermaths.

The main religious denominations in Haiti – the Catholic Church, several (Neo)-Evangelical Churches and Haitian Vodou – are vital groups which do contribute to the improvement of everyday life and the negotiation of socio-political rights in Haiti. On the other hand religious boundaries are sources of inequalities as well. The designated research seeks to explore the handling of effects of social inequalities within specific religious communities in post-earthquake Haiti and their embeddedness in global religious networks.

In the specific context of post-earthquake Haiti the following questions are of concern: How is the distribution of mid-range and long-term humanitarian aid in post-earthquake Haiti structured along confessional lines? How do the religious groups act as arbiters of social equality and improve the everyday life of their adherents? To what extent are the religious groups of concern embedded into larger global religious networks that seek to minimise the effects of social inequalities?