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Defecation, the "Bayakou," and Social Inequality in Haiti

Sekrè sutèren yo: twalèt, bayakou ak inegalite sosyal an Ayiti.
thèse Mar 2014 ; 102 pages ; Thesis Presented to The Division of Anthropology Reed College, In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Bachelor of Arts
Aut. Shannon Mearl Smith
Ed. Reed College - Portland
Téléchargeable sous format: PdF (45 910 ko)
This thesis explores the ways in which people in Haiti interact with “waste,” both materially and conceptually, and the relationship that this has to socioeconomic inequalities. The poorest members of society have the most intimate contact with discarded materials, excreta, and disease, and the least access to basic sanitation and clean water. The closer one is to the conditions of absolute poverty, the more one is likened to waste in a moral and sanitary sense, and thus poverty is naturalized in a pervasive “culture of poverty” logic that mystifies the historical roots of poverty in Haiti.
The bayakou are manual pit latrine desludgers who occupy the most stigmatized position in Haiti because they immerse themselves in human excreta in order to empty pit latrines. They are so maligned that they traditionally work only at night, hiding their true occupation even from their families. The subterranean worlds in which the bayakou work are Haiti’s unseen spaces of abjection. Since the 2010 earthquake and cholera epidemic, some bayakou in Haiti have begun to make a place for themselves in public society, thus disrupting the mechanisms of abjection.
Based on Paul Farmer’s concept of structural violence (1996, 1999, 2004, 2006), I describe how histories of exploitation and discrimination are embodied as preventable illnesses such as cholera and premature death. I use Judith Butler’s (1993) description of the abject and draw from Mary Douglas’s (1966) anthropological study of dirt and pollution in order to understand the category of waste as it is taken up in Haiti. Additionally, I base my analysis on the ethnographic study of waste economies in Portau- Prince by Federico Neiburg and Natacha Nicaise (2010), as well as data that I collected during two weeks of ethnographic field research, which included interviews with eight bayakou, sanitation professionals in the public and private sectors, and a midwife.
Tèz sa montre kijan pèp Ayisien aji ak “fatra,” nan yon sans materyèl ak konsepsyonèl, e ki relasyon ki entèraksyon sa gen ak inegalite sosyal. Moun ki pi pòv an Ayiti ap viv pi pre fatra, kaka, ak maladi, e se yo ki gen mwens aksè a sanitasyon ak dlo pwòp. Lè moun rete tou pre fatra, lòt moun yo ka di ke yo menm se fatra nan yon sans moral ak sanitè, epi anpil moun panse ke povrete se yon bagay natirèl oubyen ke moun ki pòv yo, gen yon “kilti nan povrete.” Men sa se yon mit ki misitfye rasin istorik yo nan povrete.
Bayakou yo se moun ki vide latrin e yo memn gen pozisyon ki pi meprize nan sosyete a paske yo travay nan kaka menm. Akoz mepriz sa, tradisyonèlman yo selman travay nan mitan lannwit. Majorite moun pa janm wè espas sutèren kote yo travay paske se yon espas degoutan. Aprè 12 janvye 2010 e aprè kolera te antre an Ayiti ak MINUSTAH te gen kèk bayakou ki te vin soti nan kache, epi yap kraze mepriz sa a nan yon sans paske yo refize rete envizib.
Baze sou konsèpsyon Paul Farmer nan vyolans estriktirèl, mwen eksplike kijan ekplwatasyon ak diskriminasyon soti nan istwa a e antre nan moun sou fòm maladi tankou kolera ak lanmò twò bonè. Mwen sèvi ak lide Judith Butler yo ki dekri konsèp nan degoutan epi mwen sèvi ak etid antropologik Mary Douglas sou fatra. Epi mwen itilize etidye antropologik Frederic Neiburg ak Natacha Nicaise, kòm byen ke rechèch antropologik mwen.
Introduction . 1
Historical Background . 3
Webs of Power, Claims to Truth: Methodology and Literature . 8
Beyond the “Suffering Slot” . 11

Chapter 1: Haiti’s Geography of Inequality . 13
The “Culture of Poverty” Explanation . 13
Towards Demystification . 17
The Topography of Haiti’s Waste Economy . 18
Port-au-Prince . 20
Cap-Haitien . 30
Marronage: Autonomous Rural Communities . 32

Chapter 2: Secrets in the Latrines . 35
The Bayakou . 35
The Badge as a Sign of Professionalism . 42
Subterranean Secrets: Fear and Magic . 44
Locating the Abject: People as Waste: . 48
Pollution Rhetoric in the Lavalas Movement . 52

Chapter 3: Kolera and its Cures . 55
The Violence of Vibrio cholerae . 55
International Aid and the Framing of Solutions to Cholera . 58
The World’s Garbage Can . 65
Kaka Kapab . 68

Conclusion . 73
Bibliography . 75

Mots clefs:

boues (gestion des ) (CI) (DT) (OP) , métier - profession (CI) (DT) (OP)

Pays concerné:

Haïti (CI) (DT) (OP)


Reed College - Portland - Etats Unis

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