Half a milennium of (neo)liberalism in Haiti

September 13th 2013

In 2008, the economist Joseph Stiglitz predicted the end of neoliberal philosophy as a result of the global financial crisis. Comparing the crisis to the fall of the Berlin Wall, he argued that while many people had suspected for a long time that deregulation was a bad idea, the global financial crisis proved it:

It should be the end of neoliberalism. It should be the end of the view that deregulation and liberalization lead to economic efficiency. September 2008 should be to neoliberalism and market fundamentalism what the Fall of the Berlin Wall was to communism. Everybody understood that communism was flawed, but the Fall of the Berlin Wall defined it and made it clear.

Modern dominicanidad: Popular or elite roots?

April 1st 2013

Between 1930 and 1961, the dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo took firm control of nation-building in the Dominican Republic. More than any political power before him, Trujillo forged a unified nation, but he did so via a politics of exclusion. Many scholars suggest that the state bears the burden of responsibility for the persistence of racism and denial of African roots.[1]

It appears, then, that Trujillo’s politics of exclusion continues to define domincanidad (Dominicanness) today. Far from being generated spontaneously among the population, the political and intellectual elite entrenched their version of national culture via formal and informal social institutions.

Rural nostalgia as an urban coping strategy

March 20th 2013

In the Dominican Republic, el campo (the countryside) holds a positive value due to its important role in the cultural history of the nation. In contrast, el barrio (meaning a poor urban neighbourhood) is viewed as characterized by material and social degradation. Migrants from the countryside to Santo Domingo's barrios find that they lose their moral status, instead being cast as criminals and delinquents.

To counter their displacement, migrants must negotiate a more prestigious place in social imaginings of the city’s present. Although barrio residents generally agree that the barrios— and the city—are dangerous, they reject totalizing representations of barrio residents as immoral.

They assert a morality that is bound up with traditional rural values: family life, hard work, and religiosity. Memories of their rural past form an integral part of their imaginings of themselves as moral people with a legitimate place in the city. In this sense memory can offer a form of resistance to the urban moral order, albeit one that is ultimately bounded by normative understandings of space and morality.