Production of Disaster and Recovery in Post-Earthquake Haiti: Disaster Industrial Complex, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Production of Disaster and Recovery in Post-Earthquake Haiti

Disaster Industrial Complex, 1st Edition

By Juliana Svistova, Loretta Pyles


188 pages | 4 B/W Illus.

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Natural disasters have long been seen as naturally generated events, but as scientific, technological, and social knowledge of disasters has become more sophisticated, the part that people and systems play in disaster events has become more apparent. Production of Disaster and Recovery in Post-Earthquake Haiti demonstrates how social processes impact disasters as they unfold, through the distribution of power and resources, the use of discourses and images of disaster, and the economic and social systems and relations which underlie affected communities. The authors show how these processes played out in post-earthquake Haiti to set in motion the mechanics of the disaster industrial complex to (re)produce disasters and recovery rather than bring sustainable change.

The book reveals that disaster and recovery rhetoric helped create fertile conditions for neoliberal disaster governance, militarized and digital humanitarianism, non-profiteering, and disaster opportunism to flourish while further disenfranchising marginalized populations. However, the Haiti earthquake, as is the case with all disaster sites, was ripe with mutual aid, community building, and collective action, all of which further local resilience. The authors seek to re-construct dominant discourses, policies, and practices to advance equitable, participatory partnerships with local community actors and propose a praxis for a people’s recovery as an action-oriented framework for resisting the transnational disaster industrial machinery. The authors argue for new synergies in policymaking and program development that can respond to emergencies and plan for true long-term, sustainable development after disasters that focuses as much on humans and the natural world as it does on economic progress.

Production of Disaster and Recovery in Post-Earthquake Haiti will be of great interest to students and scholars of disaster studies, humanitarian studies, development studies, Haitian studies, geography and environmental studies, as well as to non-governmental organizations, humanitarians, and policymakers.


‘‘Production of Disaster and Recovery in Post-Earthquake Haiti is a must-read for anyone involved in disaster interventions, whether teaching or in practice. The concept of the disaster industrial complex (DIC) provides a strong theoretical steer from which to analyse the deepened post-disaster marginalisation of local Haitians, their exclusion from much decision-making, and the failure of humanitarian aid to meet their needs as they defined them. The authors give a good account of the strengths of Haitians if they were not subjected to neo-colonial forms of benevolence, and provide guidelines to help practitioners empower local victim-survivors in forging their own destiny post-disasters."Lena Dominelli, Professor, School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University, UK

"Svistova and Pyles offer a nuanced, well-documented account of what they call the "disaster industrial complex" and how foreign institutions – public and private, for-profit and nonprofit, aid and media – colluded to rob Haitian people from agency to respond to the 2010 earthquake. Taking an interdisciplinary frame they offer practical, yet radical, suggestions for a "people’s response."Mark Schuller, Associate Professor of Anthropology and NGO Leadership and Development, Northern Illinois University, USA

"Production of Disaster and Recovery in Post-Earthquake Haiti provides an ambitious critical analysis of the "disaster industrial complex" and the dynamics of disaster framing and reconstruction in post-earthquake Haiti. Examining the work that disaster discourses perform on and through humanitarian institutions, response and reconstruction, and the lives and communities of the most vulnerable, Svistova and Pyles demonstrate not only that there's no such thing as a "natural" disaster, but that resilience and recovery require collective action and democratic participation from the local scale upward."Jamey Essex, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Windsor, UK

"This is an important book. There is a great need to confront the entrenched relationships that confound the best intentions of disaster response and reconstruction. Svistova and Pyles' work is grounded in the experiences of Haiti following the 2010 earthquake but has world-wide implications for those seeking to develop a praxis for people-centred recovery. This will inspire scholars and practitioners alike."Mark Pelling, Professor, Department of Geography, King's College London, UK

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Discursive (Re)Production of Disaster and Recovery 2. Haiti, History, and the Social Reproduction of Vulnerability 3. Political-Economic (Re)Production of Disaster and Recovery: Disaster Industrial Complex 4. Non-Profiteering: Innovation, Technology, and the Problem of Participation 5. Chaos and Order: Securitization, Cleansing, and Displacement 6. Environmental Justice and Extractivist Disaster Recovery: Locating Sustainability 7. Silences, Solidarity, and Resistance: Psychosocial Recovery, Spirituality, and Mutual Aid 8. Dismantling the Disaster Industrial Complex: Praxis for a People’s Recovery Appendix. Guiding Philosophical Assumptions, Interpretive Frameworks, and Methods

About the Authors

Juliana Svistova is an Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, USA.

Loretta Pyles is a Professor, School of Social Welfare, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY), USA.

About the Series

Routledge Humanitarian Studies

The Routledge Humanitarian Studies series in collaboration with the International Humanitarian Studies Association (IHSA) takes a comprehensive approach to the growing field of expertise that is humanitarian studies. This field is concerned with humanitarian crises caused by natural disaster, conflict or political instability and deals with the study of how humanitarian crises evolve, how they affect people and their institutions and societies, and the responses they trigger.

We invite book proposals that address, amongst other topics, questions of aid delivery, institutional aspects of service provision, the dynamics of rebel wars, state building after war, the international architecture of peacekeeping, the ways in which ordinary people continue to make a living throughout crises, and the effect of crises on gender relations.

This interdisciplinary series draws on and is relevant to a range of disciplines, including development studies, international relations, international law, anthropology, peace and conflict studies, public health and migration studies.

To submit proposals, please contact the Development Studies Editor, Helena Hurd ([email protected]).

Series Editors:

Alex de Waal, Tufts University, USA

Dorothea Hilhorst, Wageningen University, The Netherlands

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Disasters & Disaster Relief
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries