Haiti is often labelled as “the poorest country in the western hemisphere” (CNN, 2010; World Bank, 2020), one of the “least developed countries” (UN DESA, 2018; UNCTAD, n.d.), upholding a certain level of hierarchical relations between the Global North and Haiti. While resources and humanitarian aid have contributed to the country’s recovery from various dis-asters in the past, Haiti always remains as the ‘poorest’, the ‘least developed’ or ‘dependent on foreign aid’. This research explores colonial forms of domination and power in the humanitarian sector. The research entails a joint perspective of postcolonial studies, decolonial thinking and dependency theories. Synthesizing these three theoretical frameworks, this research pa-per exposes that a) the humanitarian aid sector is not a set of neutral/independent/impartial practices as defined by the humanitarian fundamental principles. Rather it is embedded in the complex politics of power structures and the impacts the social structures of the affected societies; b) through the practices of aid, the hierarchical relations of ‘providers’ and ‘bene-ficiaries’ are perpetuated between the former colonizers and the colonized; c) aid practition-ers see ‘the object’ of aid through the colonial gaze. Taking the shelter and housing policies after the 2010 Haiti Earthquake as study cases, a critical discourse analysis of policy documents was conducted. This shows that the colonial systems of domination are indeed perpetuated by the means of humanitarian aid, despite the undoubtably good intentions of international organizations providing the aid. First, it turns out that the humanitarian efforts were dominated by the international organizations, in terms of leadership and decision-making, coupled with the exclusion of Haitians from the institu-tional system. The discourses epistemically and decisively construct the Global North as su-perior and Haiti as inferior, by imposing the epistemology of the Global North, by muting vii the voices and the agency of the affected people, by repressing the subjectivities of the af-fected people and by depicting Haitian authorities and the affected people with a set of de-terministic and universalistic ideals.

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Ludeña, María Gabriela Palacio
Social Policy for Development (SPD)
International Institute of Social Studies

Fujita, Yuki. (2020, December 18). Rethinking humanitarian aid from a postcolonial/decolonial perspective: shelter policies after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Social Policy for Development (SPD). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/55971