Unlivable life: ordinary disasters and the atmosphere of crisis in Haiti
Professor Greg Beckett (University of Western Ontario)
Public Seminar Series
Wednesday, 04 November 2020, 5pm to 6pm
Hosted by Refugee Studies Centre
Public Seminar Series Michaelmas term 2020
Series convenors: Professor Matthew J Gibney and Professor Tom Scott-Smith
About the seminar
Set against the backdrop of soaring inflation, rolling blackouts, fuel riots, roadblocks, and antigovernment protests, this talk explores a new language of political crisis in Haiti that draws on the concept of unlivable life. In so doing, it seeks to directly connect political responses to crisis, such as protests over the high cost of living or government corruption, with ordinary or seemingly banal disasters, such as a capsized boat that led to the deaths of dozens of overseas migrants to show how the political crisis in Haiti appears in people’s lives in both ordinary and catastrophic ways. This talk uses the Haitian concept of “the unlivable” to theorize the dialectical relationship between a general atmosphere of crisis and the particular effects to which it routinely gives rise.
About the speaker
Greg Beckett is Assistant Professor in Sociocultural Anthropology at the University of Western Ontario. He is a cultural anthropologist who studies crisis, disaster, and trauma from the standpoint of moral experience. He is interested in how people make sense of exceptional events and also in the ethical and political relationships that emerge in and around responses to crisis, especially in forms of humanitarian intervention. His geographic areas of expertise are the Caribbean, specifically Haiti, where he has worked for about fifteen years.
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Watch the video on YouTube