Building Coffins at Depo Krann, Cayes, Haiti, January 2010
journal contributionposted on 30.07.2019, 00:00 by Paul Bick
My work with timber cutters in rural Haiti explores the dynamics of livelihood and conservation in the context of "environmental crisis." In the midst of my fieldwork to trace commodity chains from the forest to the consumer, the January 12, 2010 earthquake that took as many as 300,000 lives in Port au Prince sent shockwaves into every corner of the country. In Haiti's remote Massif de la Hotte, the rugged mountains of the far southwest, existing flows of people, commodities, capital and ideas were impacted by the earthquake in often unexpected ways. While timber cutters working the pine forests in the upper reaches of the massif scrambled for news of loved ones in the capital and prepared to receive refugees, the commodities they produced were re-routed to meet new demands created by the crisis. Pictured here, craftsmen in the Depo Krann woodworking complex in the southern city of Cayes (some 150 miles from Port au Prince) immediately shifted from production of furniture for local consumption to making coffins to meet overwhelming demand in the shattered capital.