Unlivable Life: Ordinary Disasters and the Atmosphere of Crisis in Haiti

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.