Images: Haiti in the Media

 

This image is from an article in The Independent by Jay Merrick, published on June 21, 2010. The article discusses an international housing design competition launched by the Haitian government in the months following the quake. British architect John McAslan was chosen to rebuild Haiti’s social housing. We see this woman walking tall and going about her daily business in spite of the wreckage in the background; this photograph presents an image of the Haitian people as strong and capable of carrying on. In her article “Tent City Geography,” Marita Sturken observes that most of the post-earthquake images of Haiti were “images of the rescue and recovery operation, of the dead lying in the rubble and the streets, the traumatized survivors, the buildings in ruins.” Sturken argues that these typical aftermath images support the idea of Haiti as a “dysfunctional state.” These images also act as portrayals of “human resilience, compassion, and generosity” and other ideas and symbolic messages that can be applied to any disaster anywhere in the world. This image mixes these stereotypes of post-disaster documentation and the message that “life goes on.” The woman in this photograph is not named, neither is the date the picture was taken, nor the location. As aesthetically pleasing as this photograph is, we can’t ignore that it perpetuates the generic ideal of “majesty” that mainstream media applies to all survivors of horrific disasters. Perhaps if we knew more about this woman and her specific situation, it would make a better narrative about the true resiliency of the Haitian people. Posted by: Julia Piper

 

 

This image came from an article in the BBC entitled “Haiti Quake Aid Effort Hampered by Blockages”, posted on January 15th, 2010, just five days after the 7.0 earthquake struck the country. The article discussed the challenges faced by those who were trying to transport aid through Haiti and how they were faced with rubble, bodies, and general disorganization. The BBC is a news company based in the United Kingdom. They cover global news, and are reputed as being fairly unbiased. This image portrays Haiti in a state of chaos and ruin in the days following the earthquake. Since then, because of Haiti’s unstable infrastructure, the situation has improved at a slow pace. As a result, international news agencies, such as the BBC, who aren’t trying to portray Haiti negatively, put out images like this one because they still view Haiti’s narrative as one of chaos. The scene in this photo is hopeless, the people’s faces are grim, and everything is destroyed. What is missing in most of the images of Haiti in the media today are the ones that show the rebuilding, the progress that is being made, and the potential for success Haiti possesses. There are many pictures of the dirt floor, one room schools in Haiti, but not many of teachers like Alzire Rocourt, who says, “The children are extremely eager to learn. They seem to have, even though they are small, an intuition that this may be a way out of misery and poverty and isolation”. Her faith in her students is strong despite the fact that the she is currently teaching in a tent city after her school was destroyed in the earthquake. There are many images of tent cities housing the impoverished, homeless people of Haiti, but not many of things like the focus groups comprised of people of all different levels socioeconomic means who came together and discussed their vision of “…a complete transformation in the way individuals and institutions act, through a new awakening, fostering a greater sense of civic responsibility and a new sense of unity” (Haiti After the Earthquake by Paul Farmer). Haiti deserves to have the world see a balanced narrative. Posted by Lena King

 

This photo, published in a Los Angeles Times article titled “Earthquake Hits Haiti” and taken by Brian Vander Brug on January 25, 2010, captures Rudeson Laurent brushing his teeth while standing atop a pile of trash. This photo shows that though Haiti has been struck by tragedy, the Haitian people are are strong. The irony of this boy’s attempt at sanitation while standing upon a heap of trash demonstrates the Haitian people’s attempt to maintain their dignity despite their abject conditions. Many have been forced to move into squalid tent camps, yet they move on with their lives. The idea of the Haitian people as a tough and determined race intent on keeping their human dignity is one that is discussed in Edwidge Danticat’s essay “Lot Bo Dlo, The Other Side of the Water,” in Paul Farmer’s novel “Haiti After the Earthquake.” Danticat writes that the Haitian resilience “has shown itself in many homegrown efforts, in the beauty parlors and barbershops in the camps, where people who wake up and go to sleep in the midst of inevitable squalor refuse to let it define them” (257). Fighting to maintain their dignity, the Haitians continue pursuing basic hygiene and maintain their physical appearances despite living in abject conditions. The poverty of Haiti has not stolen the humanity of its people. Posted by Mallory Utley

 

This picture came from an article on BBC that explained the recent riots in Haiti, demanding that the UN peacekeeping task withdraw. The article is titled “Haiti police battle anti-UN protesters,” and was published September 14, 2011. The article can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-14923617. This picture shows a man holding a sign that says “Brazil and Chili=Occupation”. This picture, as well as the article, shows a unique side of the Haitian people, one that presents the resilient and proud side. One common argument is that America and the UN should not help the Haitians because they are simply looking for handouts; in truth, they are tired of their lack of representation and influence. In Paul Farmer’s Haiti After the Earthquake, Michèle Montas-Dominique wrote in an essay “…respect. Haitians seek respect from the donors for those they are helping.” Though the UN has good intentions, they are failing to recognize and respect the needs and wishes of the Haitians, making Haiti a “Republic of NGOs”. Posted by Maggie Wisniewski.

 

 

This is an image embedded in an article entitled “Haiti: Cellphone Tracking Helps Groups Set Up More Effective Aid Distribution, Study Says,” written by Donald G. McNeil Jr. The article appeared in the Health section of the New York Times online on September 5, 2011 and discusses a study that suggests that tracking cell phone signals in Haiti after disasters can help relief agencies track refugees (depicted in the image) and send aid to specific locations accordingly. This article and image depict the movement Haiti, specifically after the cholera outbreak, which began in October 2010. Paul Farmer notes, “In those first days of the epidemic, the chief task was to figure out where the epidemic had come from and to cut its spread by any and all means possible” (Haiti: After the Earthquake 193). The article advocates one way that experts might track the movement of people, and ultimately stop the spread of such epidemics by promptly sending aid where it is needed. This image depicts a narrative of destabilization and also of movement. The vehicle is overcrowded, and it is unclear if there will be room for all the individuals attempting to secure a place in or on the vehicle. Those on the vehicle en route are headed toward barren land, and there is a vehicle heading in the opposite direction, which speaks to the constant movement in and out of the city. The cell phone towers in the background indicate a sense of modernity and seem like a symbol of movement forward within the context of the article. This image emphasizes displacement and struggle, but also some sense of hope, while the article offers a possible solution to the problem tracking refugees to provide aid. While many images of Haiti, particularly after the earthquake seem to portray the country and its people as static and unable to progress, this image suggests at least the possibility of movement, improvement, and progress.  Posted by Emily Artiano.

 

 

“Four-year old orphan Beaudin Lovinsk is dropped off with his belongings in a suitcase by his uncle to be placed into the Children’s Foundation of Haiti orphanage.” The young boys’ mother died in the earthquake and his uncle could no longer afford to take care of him. The orphanage is currently situated near the airport and consists of make-shift tents. The picture illustrates the very personal relationship between the boy and his uncle. Contrary to the United States’ popular view, not every child in Haiti looks sad and desperate, most carry on even when in the face of adversity. Beudin Lovinsk is not looking directly at the camera crying, which would create an emotional response, instead he is looking at his uncle. The picture seems to be more candid and highlights the moment between the uncle and his nephew. This image comes from the World section of the online Irish Times. The picture and corresponding article were released on Wednesday January 12, 2011. The article corresponding with this article is a very inspiring account of the country of Haiti. The writer, Tom Arnold, wrote a post-earthquake account of the troubles still facing the Haitian community. He witnessed the destruction days after the earthquake and got to know the Haitian culture. Arnold’s account of Haiti is very hopeful and understanding. Unlike many other critics of the aid streaming into Haiti, Arnold looks at the situation and tries to rationalize what steps need to be taken. In my opinion the best two lines of the article state, “The people of Haiti have shown remarkable resilience in the face of successive crises, and yet have still not given up hope. In spite of the obvious challenges, we must do likewise if we are to help them build a better future for their country.” Tom Arnold inspires readers with his hopeful attitude toward the country of Haiti. Posted by Justine Fischer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A woman reacts to tear gas fired by police during a protest against the UN mission in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011. Protesters calling for the withdrawal of U.N. peacekeepers from Haiti clashed with police outside the earthquake-damaged Haitian National Palace. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa). The context of this photo shows a familiar setting of utter hopelessness many Haitians might have felt after the earthquake. However the narrative is much different since it focuses on one woman’s face. This forces the audience to step back and fully understand that behind the “Haitian tragedy” there are real people with their own thoughts and emotions. Another story told by this photo is of the paradox that the look of utter hopelessness on the woman’s face is caused by the very organization, the United Nations, that is trying to help her and people like her. It is just a small example of a larger problem discussed by Jean-Claude Martineau in his article The Other Occupation: The Haitian Version of Apartheid. He suggests that many times in history, foreigners, even well intentioned foreigners have introduced problems in Haiti that had not previously existed. This photo of a woman suffering because of actions taken by United Nations peacekeepers seems to show that this occurrence continues to the present. Posted by: Puja Panchal.

This is a photo appears in the French left-wing newspaper Liberation. Unlike its right wing counterpart, the Figaro, which chose to cover the stormy weather around Haiti, Liberation has surprisingly detailed articles and analysis about the recent election of Michel Martelly (the man in the pink shirt on the photo), this one being from the 5th of April 2011. This shows the diverse ways in which Haiti can be covered by the French media. The article goes on to talk about the reasons for his election, mostly relating to Haitian distrust of the other more corrupt politicians, and wastes no time in mentioning the titanic issues facing Martelly’s incoming administration. Liberation goes so far as to say that the earthquake “amputated” the Haitian government of administrative power. Posted By: Elliott Memmi

This photo is from the National Geographic, taken January 13th 2010 one day after the earthquake. Many houses were knocked down, and even those Haitians whose houses were untouched fled to sleep in the streets in fear of aftershocks. The article accompanying the photo is a short overview of the effects of the earthquake accompanied with a quote from the president René Préval about the schools, and hospitals that have collapsed in Haiti. This photo portrays a sea of bodies as far as the eye can see. Were it not for the explanation of the photo, the viewer would not know the photo was of a street. The dominant themes present in this photo are of desperation and despair.The only time when a person sleeps outside on the street is when they are homeless, and have no other place to go. These people are viewed with a sense of pity, because having a place to sleep is is a necessary human need. A whole group of people sleeping in the street therefore produces an emotion provoking scene.  The photo was probably chosen to accompany this article because of its shock value,  it presents a stereotypical view of  destruction in Haiti after the earthquake. Many of the photos circulated about Haiti are chosen for their shock and awe value. Therefore destruction, death, and utter despair are reoccurring themes because they attract the viewer’s attention. Because of this not many photos that contain messages for hope, or show efforts of rebuilding are chosen to accompany articles about Haiti. It produces a skewered image of Haiti to the public, one that only shows destructions and neglects to acknowledge anything else.  Photo and analysis posted by Marissa Reyes

This photo was taken after the life changing earthquake in Haiti. After numerous buildings were destroyed, scores of families were displaced and thousands of people died, the Haitians had lost all hope. Most of the pictures taken in the media show destruction, fear and trauma. Not only does this destroy any form of faith of the Haitians, but also gives the wrong message to the people viewing these pictures.Just like most of the other pictures taken in Haiti after the earthquake, this picture highlights the effects of the earthquake; destroyed buildings and displaced people. However, it has also managed to capture another aspect of the life of Haitians after the earthquake. Along the side walk, Haitians are seen carrying out everyday activities alongside a destroyed building in the background. This is an example of how the Haitians have learned to move on. While other pictures in the media show displaced Haitians in pain with no sign of hope, this picture gives us a glimpse of how people have adapted to the effects and learned to move on. It sends out a unique message of how Haitians who are, although in need of aid, not lying helpless but are moving on and adjusting to the unfortunate conditions that prevailed them. Extracted from the National Geographic channel’s official website. Photo by Ahmed Sajjad

 

 

 

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