Haiti’s earthquake was one of the top five deadliest disasters in the contemporary world, claiming between 65,000 and 316,000 lives. Haiti’s disaster was also arguably the most mediatized in modern history. Media images highlighted the exceptional, macabre, and gruesome. Many of these accounts dehumanized Haiti and Haitian people, while focusing disproportionate attention on the good intention and generosity of humanitarian actors. International media attention helped raise $5.6 billion in official funds for the first 2 years following the earthquake.
Three and a half years following the earthquake, international media attention on Haiti has diminished quite significantly. Living conditions have only improved slightly and are still among the worst in the world. One index of the collective failures includes the existence of 325,000 people still living under tents in scores of camps. So what happened? Where did the money go? This exhibit at the Anthropology Museum at NIU aims to answer these questions. Visitors will begin by walking through rubble, representing the “tremors felt round the world.” Installation components will include a wind-and-sun battered tent and tarp and artifacts of household/tent life. To demonstrate the increasing risks of forced eviction, the installation also includes the charred remains of a tent from an act of arson by armed paramilitaries in a recent case of forced evictions. Visitors can also go inside a typical dwelling in one of Port-au-Prince’s shantytowns. Exhibit panels will explore the life histories and living conditions of several Haitian women living “under the tents.” Visitors will meet Haitian activists trying to make a difference and be able to take action on cholera, forced eviction, housing rights, and aid accountability.
The exhibition will last through April 2014 and also serve as the catalyst for inviting a dozen experts from around the world who will discuss Haiti’s contemporary realities and underlying issues. This speaker series will kick off Tuesday, February 25th when NIU welcomes Haitian Human Rights Lawyer, Patrice Florvilus and NIU Professor of Law, Elvia R. Arriola to the Housing and Human Rights in Haiti Forum at 1:30 pm at the Center for Black Studies. Please log on to the museum’s website at http://www.niu.edu/anthro_museum or ‘like’ the museum on Facebook for more details on speakers in March and April.
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