Development aid advocates a normative ethos of professionalism that foregrounds equality between providers and recipients while discouraging personal relationships that could lead to accusations of corruption, nepotism, and dependency. These personal relationships are understood to undermine the inculcation of values such as transparency and accountability that are encouraged by development aid providers. And yet, in many of the places that development operates, recipients consider personal relationships-gift exchange, food sharing, and long-term commitments-not only appropriate, but also obligatory. A multi-sited project, my dissertation research moves between multiple aid sites within the city of Port-au-Prince and the countryside of the Central Plateau to examine the role of personal social relations in the context of aid encounters within Haiti. In particular, I focus on the articulation of morality and relationality within these contexts to better elucidate the ways in which differential systems of value are negotiated and understood by those who are the recipients of aid.
Moral economies, kinship, structural inequality, international development aid, applied/activist anthropology, Caribbean, Haiti