July 9, 2021
Title: Nou Kotize Pami Nou: Financial Support Networks, Leveling Mechanisms, and Political Economic Change in Northern Haiti
Abstract: The rural Commune of Limonade, located on Haiti's northern coast, has a vibrant civil society comprised mostly of younger residents spanning a wide variety of private voluntary organizations (PVOs). To fund their activities, PVOs solicit resources from local figures by writing formal letters of request known as lèt demann. Drawing on 1.5 years of ethnographic fieldwork and a sample of 56 PVOs from across Limonade, this dissertation documents efforts to establish new resource flows by describing the practice of circulating lèt demann and the networks of support they entail. Sample groups wrote 1,270 lèt demann to 579 individuals, forming a rich network dataset. Literature on social support networks in Haiti and elsewhere raise the expectation that groups would call upon the personal relations of group members for support. Focusing on the practice of circulating lèt demann and the character and composition of lèt demannnetworks, this dissertation adds to the conversation by showing that lèt demann networks are highly selective and patterned, targeting specific categories of local social and economic actors who are not among the personal relations of any group member.
Committee Members: Tad Park, co-chair; Drexel Woodson, co-chair, Mamadou Baro, Rich Stoffle, Karen Richman (University of Notre Dame), external member