Title

From ‘Bagay lá’ to ‘My Thing’: My Journey to Applied Anthropology

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Summer 2014

Publication Source

Practicing Anthropology

Volume

36

Issue

3

Inclusive pages

22-26

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.17730/praa.36.3.l93523r3228gq454

Peer Reviewed

yes

Abstract

It is bewildering how many natural disasters have occurred since the Haiti earthquake of January 12, 2010, appropriately named "bagay lá" or "the thing" by Haitians. Numerous cyclones, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, landslides, volcanic eruptions, wildfires, droughts, earthquakes, and melting glaciers have created a human diaspora of epic proportions. After bagay lá, over 1,500 camps were created for sheltering 1.5 million internally displaced Haitians in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere, with 147,000 remaining in 271 camps today (Sherwood et al. 2014). Victims of such tragedies face difficult decisions in the aftermath of disaster. Do they move and start anew? Do they salvage and rebuild their lives? And, what about those who want to help? Are some methods better than others? These were some of the questions I asked myself the evening of bagay lá. What I did not recognize at the time was that my work, firmly rooted in the academy, was transforming into a more applied practice.

Disciplines

Anthropology | Nursing

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