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A Leaky House: Haiti in the Religious Aftershocks of the 2010 Earthquake

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Title: A Leaky House: Haiti in the Religious Aftershocks of the 2010 Earthquake
Author: Payne, Nichole
Advisor: Faubion, James D.
Degree: Doctor of Philosophy thesis
Abstract: My research explores nation building, religious conflict and Christian democratization in Post-earthquake Haiti. Christians I spoke with blamed Vodou for the destructive quake. In Haiti, Vodouisants now require UN protection to practice their faith. The thick religious tension in Haiti post-earthquake could portend deep political riffs and dangerous religious persecution. What is more, the quake has effectively shut down government, leaving in its wake essentially an NGO Republic. Moreover, some sectors of the population, particularly the very poor in the black majority, have been converting to evangelical Christianity at very high rates. About the conversions Vodouisants say, "Kay koule twompe soley soley men li pa twompe lapil." A leaky house can fool the sun, but it can't fool the rain. I took this notion of a leaky house from the discussion with a Vodouisant research participant who often compared the massive conversions to an incomplete and quick cover for the inner turmoils of the Haitian subject. I expanded this phrase to work as analogy for the significant evangelical/NGO infrastructure in Haiti. Can this leaky house last as the pseudo-governmental body of Haiti? Problem: A devastating 7.0 Earthquake rocked Haiti on January 12th, 2010. By January 24th, at least 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or greater had been recorded (CBS News 2010). Cite’ De Soleil has turned into a devastating battleground-- Vodouisants against Christians. Christian evangelicals have a carte blanche to intervene into the lives of devastated Haitians, also into the Haitian government. Struggling with insufficient capacity in the face of overwhelming poverty and environmental disasters, the Haitian government has capsized in what many are calling a religious coup d’état. At least 10,000 religious non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are operating in Haiti. Against this background, the actual hypothesis to be tested in this research is that the conversion from Vodou to most sectors of evangelical Christianity and the subsequent violence against Vodou practitioners is, in the case of some of my research participants, actually a modality for expatriation from, or incorporation into, the New Haitian body politic.  
Citation: Payne, Nichole. (2012) "A Leaky House: Haiti in the Religious Aftershocks of the 2010 Earthquake." Doctoral Thesis, Rice University. http://hdl.handle.net/1911/64718.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1911/64718
Date: 2012-09-05

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