New Book: Haïti, réinventer l’avenir

Haïti, réinventer l’avenir [Haiti: Reinventing the Future] (2012, Éditions Maisons des sciences de l’homme, State University of Haiti), edited by Jean-Daniel Rainhorn, gathers 26 essays and testimonial pieces taken from a colloquium that attempted the beginning of a conversation with three groups: Haitian intellectuals in Haiti, those living in the diaspora, and international cooperation organizations.

The book presents ideas for the reconstruction or rebuilding of Haiti. In his review of the collection, journalist Paulo Antonio Paranagua asks: “Can we move away from a purely compassionate discourse about Haiti? Can we avoid prolonging the outlook on Port-au-Prince as “capital of pain” that attracts the “humanitarian empire” after the January 2010 earthquake?

But isn’t this viewpoint essentially the same as in the past? Is it a taboo to consider critically the responsibility of Haitian politicians and parties? Can one not point fingers at the “guilty incompetence of former President René Préval, elected with the support of all ‘friendly countries’?” Was it necessary to wait for the revelations of Wikileaks to describe [his administration’s] weaknesses? He adds, “With new president Michel Martelly, Haitians are probably not out of their political deadlock. So what is the sense of denouncing the trusteeship of the country, if one ignores the faults of the State and remain silent about the irresponsibility of politicians?”

Paranagua writes: “This voiding of politics when it comes to Haiti is common to humanitarians, the media, and academics. In doing so, they all transform Haitians into objects of their discourse and deny them the status of subjects. The victims deserve compassion and help, not those who have fled their responsibilities.” He concludes, “Reinventing Haiti presupposes to reinventing politics. And to do so, we must first decipher the politics that really exists in Haiti, without complacency or paternalism.”

For full review (in French), see

Photo by Elodie Vialle, « Le camp d’Accra, à Delmas » and book excerpt (in French), see

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