- “Men anpil, chay pa lou”:Reflecting on Initial and Future Collaborative Projects between the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the Community of Carrefour-Feuilles, Haiti
A two-year collaborative project between professors in the department of Black studies, the department of global studies, and the Center for Black Studies Research at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), culminated in a research trip to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in June 2015. The research collaborative aimed to develop a conceptual and inclusive framework for short-term and long-term development prospects in the earthquake-devastated community of Carrefour-Feuilles. The research trip included a two-day workshop that brought UCSB scholars to this specific community in Haiti to engage with community leaders and residents, Haitian faculty and students, grassroots organizations, governmental agencies, and international nongovernmental organizations working in Carrefour-Feuilles.
The research project, titled “The Haiti Sustainable Development Research Collaborative: The Carrefour-Feuilles Neighborhood Redevelopment Project,” consisted of three professors from global studies and Black studies, three graduate students, five undergraduates, and two videographers, one of whom recently completed a master’s degree in the UCSB global studies program. Together, we spent seven days in Haiti hoping not only to reach our research goals but to also to provide the five undergraduates with an educational opportunity to broaden their historical and sociocultural understandings of Haiti and its development in an increasingly globalized world.
Their reflections, provided below, offer valuable insights on the undergraduates’ first experiences in a non-Western developing country; they also uncover the fruitful complexities of translating textbook [End Page 151] knowledge into real-world understandings of both local and global issues. The students—Unique Vance, Mariah Boyd, Sean Tanabe, Ashley Baker, and Andrew Neiman—each completed a course and research project in Spring 2015 with Nadège T. Clitandre, an assistant professor of global studies who has close ties to the community of Carrefour-Feuilles. She and Claudine Michel, professor of Black studies, co-led the trip with the assistance of Philip McCarty, a lecturer in global studies and anthropologist with experience in field research in countries outside the United States.
Together with reflections offered by N. Pierre, Jamella Gow, and Nikita Carney, doctoral students who focus on Haiti and the broader Caribbean, this short essay provides insight into the preliminary processes of building a partnership between a large US research university and a community in Port-au-Prince, as well as the experience of engaging with leaders and other members of the community of Carrefour-Feuilles. In this piece, we provide personal and critical reflections developed in the field and also a commentary on the value of cross-cultural research and academic exchange between students from different countries. We share these reflections in the hopes of generating more interest in this fruitful collaboration between the Center for Black Studies Research and the department of global studies.
PhD Candidate, History, New York University; Visiting Researcher, UCSB Center for Black Studies Research
The Center for Black Studies Research and the global studies department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, secured funding for the Haiti Sustainable Development Research Collaborative. The essential kernel of the trip was to conduct a needs assessment brief to function as guide for the redevelopment of a neighborhood in Carrefour-Feuilles, Port-au-Prince.
There were five major objectives: 1) investigate current NGO strategies pertinent to reconstruction; 2) assess the effectiveness of aid toward long-term infrastructure development; 3) examine the role of local leaders in relation to their constituents and foreign NGOs; 4) develop a plan of action for local community members to recover their collective history; and 5) which resonated with me most, develop research questions and theoretical frameworks that would enable community members to participate in the reconstruction of their hometowns.
In preparation for the trip, our group—total fourteen: including five undergraduate students and three graduate students (including myself)—met [End Page 152] periodically throughout the year to discuss...