The Anthropocene

Authored by: Elizabeth Cartwright , Lenore Manderson , Anita Hardon

The Routledge Handbook of Medical Anthropology

Print publication date:  May  2016
Online publication date:  May  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138015630
eBook ISBN: 9781315794198
Adobe ISBN: 9781317743781


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I took the picture in May 2012 in a displacement camp in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, where thousands of people had moved after the January 2010 earthquake. More than two years later, in a makeshift tent more permanent than what displaced people may have wished, a smiling young woman stands out. She and her two young children were surrounded by their meager belongings. The image attempts to dignify her existence, despite conditions of extreme poverty, and reflects the resilience needed to survive in the midst of harsh circumstances. After all, they survived the earthquake. Yet, unintentionally, she contributes to the vicious cycle of deforestation, devastating floods caused by hurricanes, and more poverty. Charcoal, the culprit fuel, hidden under pots and pans and her only means to cook, is the result of scarce trees burned down for barter or cash in a land that becomes less fertile with time, but was once as green as its Dominican neighbor.

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