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Killing with Kindness

Haiti, International Aid, and NGOs

Mark Schuller

Publication Year: 2012

After Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, over half of U.S. households donated to thousands of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in that country. Yet we continue to hear stories of misery from Haiti. Why have NGOs failed at their mission?Set in Haiti during the 2004 coup and aftermath and enhanced by research conducted after the 2010 earthquake, Killing with Kindness analyzes the impact of official development aid on recipient NGOs and their relationships with local communities. Written like a detective story, the book offers rich enthnographic comparisons of two Haitian women’s NGOs working in HIV/AIDS prevention, one with public funding (including USAID), the other with private European NGO partners. Mark Schuller looks at participation and autonomy, analyzing donor policies that inhibit these goals. He focuses on NGOs’ roles as intermediaries in “gluing” the contemporary world system together and shows how power works within the aid system as these intermediaries impose interpretations of unclear mandates down the chain—a process Schuller calls “trickle-down imperialism.”

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. vii

Illustrations and Tables

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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xii

In Killing with Kindness: Haiti, International Aid and NGOs, Mark Schuller offers nuanced insight into the mechanisms (and failures) of foreign aid in Haiti. Through his extensive field research, recounted here in a clear, practical prose, Dr. Schuller suggests that the most efficient and effective way to engage in this...

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pp. xiii-xiv

A work of this scope is impossible to accomplish without the active support of many. A work of this theme is inconceivable to attempt individually. At the University of California, Santa Barbara, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank-you to my PhD committee—Susan Stonich, Mary Hancock, Christopher McAuley, and...


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pp. xv-xvi

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Introduction. Doing Research during a Coup

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pp. 1-13

The city was on fire. Not the Eternal Flame, a work-in-progress memorial to the Haitian Revolution that had yet to be lit, but thick plumes of charcoal-gray smoke filled the sky, blotting out the sun....

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Chapter 1. Violence and Venereal Disease: Structural Violence, Gender, and HIV/AIDS

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pp. 14-41

The shooting continues. This might be a spillover from this afternoon. There was a ton of shooting in the Nazon/Kafou Ayewopò area. According to Radyo Ginen,1 several people were injured from gunshots. I saw the effect: a complete blokis (traffic jam), so it was faster to walk all the way from Sove Lavi to Kabann...

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Chapter 2. "That's Not Participation!": Relationships from "Below"

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pp. 42-73

We finally reached our summit, this little town, high enough in the mountains to have a forest of pine among the more tropical mango trees. A church service just let out. About forty or so people were already waiting, milling about. It was chilly by Haitian standards, with several peasant leaders wearing torn...

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Chapter 3. All in the Family: Relationships "Inside"

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pp. 74-106

The chairs were all occupied, so people sat on the desks as well. Laughter drowned out the shouting across the room. Everyone was still waiting for Mme Dominique, the director, to emerge from her office. Even the doctors were both there. It was Thursday, the end of the workweek. In the other direction...

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Chapter 4. "We Are Prisoners!": Relationships from "Above"

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pp. 107-135

The technical team meeting was postponed to 1:30 to coincide with a 2:30 meeting that was supposed to take place for Kanaval and filling out the weekly work plan. This 2:30 meeting never happened. Josue was supposed to come to the technical team meeting to help the trainers think of what is realistic....

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Chapter 5. Tectonic Shifts and the Political Tsunami: USAID and the Disaster of Haiti

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pp. 136-170

Today I met with Jillian, a USAID “retiree” who is now working with the agency as a “contractor,” making more money but taking fewer benefits (e.g., she has to pay her own health care and retirement). Since she was a retiree I was thinking she could talk more freely, which she further signaled by meeting me at the...

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Conclusion. Killing with Kindness?

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pp. 171-187

It is a year—to the minute—since the earthquake that killed at least 230,000 people. A wave of silence has passed through the city. Like the immediate leadup to the coup, the streets are empty. Roosters crowing in the distance are the only sound. It seemed that even the dogs, following the lead of their human...

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Afterword. Some Policy Solutions

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pp. 188-194

Since 2003, I have engaged in many conversations about the system of foreign aid and NGOs with colleagues, NGO professionals, students, and ti pèp. Below are a series of recommendations stemming from these conversations for ending this killing with kindness, once and for all. Following the structure of the book,...


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pp. 195-205


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pp. 207-209


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pp. 211-230


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pp. 231-233

About the Author

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pp. 235

E-ISBN-13: 9780813553641
E-ISBN-10: 0813553644
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813553627
Print-ISBN-10: 0813553644

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 5 photographs 4 figures
Publication Year: 2012