This post contains links to the final thesis that I wrote and accompanying poster. Also included is the abstract:
In this project I present a critical analysis of dynamic power relations enacted through sustainable development. Current research on discourse and sustainable development has called for a more concrete description of sustainable development in order to limit misappropriations. This project takes the vague character of sustainable development as a point of departure, acknowledging that the ability of sustainable development to be appropriated and misunderstood makes it an especially rich site of power and discourse. It first critiques implementation of sustainable development in Haiti, and then reconstructs a better process for implementing sustainable development. This analysis reaches beyond the Global North/South power dynamic to explore the intersection of many different organizations in Port-au-Prince’s development climate. The organizations and groups considered are for profits, non-profits (including religious organizations), intergovernmental organizations, Haitian villagers, and implicitly local government. Given Haiti’s history of environmental problems, notably deforestation, and the recent series of crises, it has become a center of international focus and a teeming site of discourse. Discourse analysis explores the different assumptions or shared understandings of different types of organizations. The discursive texts analyzed, which range from actual texts to the structure of social interactions, offer two levels of analysis: 1) the underlying assumptions and interests of the authoring organization; and 2) how these groups or organizations use discourse to enact power in relation to one another. My research finds that for-profits have more equitable distributions, and finds that the inequitable assumptions deployed by nonprofit organizations including intergovernmental organizations such as the UN and NGOs profoundly impacts Haitian villagers receiving sustainable development initiatives. Based on these finding I suggest a more equitable implementation of sustainable development would include more inclusive processes, and that NGOs have a particular set of skills that would allow them to be instrumental in enacting and encouraging these inclusive processes.
Thesis Poster: Image of the poster I presented on my research in PDF format
Thesis text: Full text of my thesis in PDF format