Anthropologist Mark Schuller’s new book Killing with Kindness: Haiti, International Aid, and NGOs (Rutgers University Press) examines why abundant foreign aid dollars and agencies have not improved the socio-economic status or security of Haiti’s people.

The Republic of Haiti has become the Republic of NGOs. Bill Clinton estimated that 10,000 were in Haiti even before the earthquake, but no one actually knows. “Nongovernmental” is actually a misnomer, since many of the agencies get at least half their funding from the U.S. government. Killing with Kindness is a match struck to light up this obscure and powerful sector. A Creole-speaker with a discerning eye, a decade-plus history in Haiti, and close relationships at ground-level, Schuller combines extensive research with first-person anecdotes and vivid description to show how NGOs have aggravated both a humanitarian and structural crisis.

Killing with Kindness delivers a tale of two foreign-launched and foreign-funded NGOs. His study is not about the aftermath of the earthquake but about another disaster-filled period, the year 2004. These were political disasters: the second ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide; violence and repression from the right and the elite, backed by the U.S. government; and the fissuring of social movements. Schuller conducts ethnographies of the two agencies, and interviews and analyzes players along the NGO food chain: U.S. and European donors, the organization’s leaders, lower echelons of staff, and the intended beneficiaries. via Daily Kos

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