Beverly Bell, an activist and award-winning writer, has dedicated her life to working for democracy, women's rights, and economic justice in Haiti and elsewhere. Since the 7.0 magnitude earthquake of January 12, 2010, that struck the island nation, killing more than a quarter-million people and leaving another two million Haitians homeless, Bell has spent much of her time in Haiti. Her new book, Fault Lines, is a searing account of the first year after the earthquake. Bell explores how strong communities and an age-old gift culture have helped Haitians survive in the wake of an unimaginable disaster, one that only compounded the preexisting social and economic distress of their society. The book examines the history that caused such astronomical destruction. It also draws in theories of resistance and social movements to scrutinize grassroots organizing for a more just and equitable country.
Fault Lines offers rich perspectives rarely seen outside Haiti. Readers accompany the author through displaced persons camps, shantytowns, and rural villages, where they get a view that defies the stereotype of Haiti as a lost nation of victims. Street journals impart the author's intimate knowledge of the country, which spans thirty-five years. Fault Lines also combines excerpts of more than one hundred interviews with Haitians, historical and political analysis, and investigative journalism. Fault Lines includes twelve photos from the year following the 2010 earthquake.
Bell also investigates and critiques U.S. foreign policy, emergency aid, standard development approaches, the role of nongovernmental organizations, and disaster capitalism. Woven through the text are comparisons to the crisis and cultural resistance in Bell's home city of New Orleans, when the levees broke in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Ultimately a tale of hope, Fault Lines will give readers a new understanding of daily life, structural challenges, and collective dreams in one of the world's most complex countries.
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 425 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
"Fault Lines could just as well be called Hold Strong. These stories of individual Haitians' resistance and commitment, love, and hard work, compel us all to recommit to social justice and change. Whether our focus is rights at work, community organizing, or democracy, this read-while at times heartbreaking-is in the end inspirational."-- Larry Cohen, President, Communications Workers of America
"Fault Lines is a pathbreaking book. It is very well written and poignant. It is gripping, emotionally rich, and hard to put down. It contains detailed information that will be useful in the classroom and for churches, labor unions, solidarity movements, activists, and aid workers involved in Haiti's recovery from the earthquake. Beverly Bell gives readers an ultimately inspiring account of the disaster from the point of view of the Haitian people."-- Mark Schuller, Northern Illinois University, author of Killing with Kindness: Haiti, International Aid, and NGOs
"In this magnificent book, Beverly Bell has captured the soul and spirit of the Haitian people. She brings their experience with the earthquake to life on the page and makes it clear how much energy and vision they have for the rebuilding of their country and how regularly they are ignored, abused, squelched in their fervent desire to be part of the effort. She castigates the government and private interests whose post-earthquake investments in Haiti are in their own interests and not in the interests of the Haitians."-- Ruth Messinger, President, American Jewish World Service
"The breadth and scope of observation and analysis Beverly Bell offers in Fault Lines is very rare. The length of time she has spent in Haiti, the wide array of experiences she has had there, and the variety of roles she has played both 'on the ground' and from a distance (as a writer and activist in the United States) allow her to provide a level of insight that would be virtually impossible for most observers of Haiti to achieve. The numerous quotations she provides from Haitians themselves are powerful and, again, all too rare in accounts of Haiti."-- Jennie Smith-Pariola, author of When the Hands Are Many: Community Organization and Social Change in Rural Haiti
"When I first went to Haiti in 1990, everyone said I couldn't find a better teacher than Beverly Bell. Now, over twenty years later, the same is still true. Bell's firsthand reporting reveals much to readers about Haiti's history and tragic earthquake, but the real takeaway is about the brighter future that social movements are building there. Fault Lines is a must-read for everyone-in Haiti or elsewhere-who wants to be a part of building that brighter future because, as Bell explains, it is going to take us all."-- Annie Leonard, creator, Story of Stuff