The Border and The Market: Exploring the spaces of conflict and exchange in Dajabón Market in Ouanaminthe

Samendy Brice

West of Ouanaminthe Haiti.

Samendy Brice, in a town West of Ouanaminthe, Haiti.

Graduate Student Project

Introduction

Exacerbated by periodic hurricanes and political uncertainty, Haiti's recovery since the 2010 earthquake has been slow and spotty. Characterized by a long history of natural disasters, today the country struggles more than ever with the reconstruction of infrastructure and means of agricultural production, stability, and trade. Haiti has become dependent on international food aid from national corporations and first world countries. The country has relied on cross border trade with the Dominican Republic to ensure access to food and jobs for many communities around Haiti.

My name is Samendy Brice. I'm a Graduate student at University at Buffalo studying  Architecture. With the awarded CGHE (Community for Global Health and Equity) Travel Scholarship I was able to conduct my on-site field observations at the Dajabon Market in the Dominican Republic for my directed research phase of my thesis. Through this experience, I was able to better understand my site and border markets in the region of Ouanaminthe, Haiti and Dajabón, DR.

The Border and the Market focus on the concepts of exchange and conflict, and how relationships are are spatially conditioned and articulated at the market and border.

Abstract

Since the 2010 earthquake, the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic has emerged as a vital economic engine, where seventy-five percent of the imported food and goods come into the country through fourteen border crossings.  The northernmost border crossing between Ouanaminthe province in Haiti and Dajabón in the Dominican Republic is the most important and contested of these crossings between the two countries. The livelihood of thousands of Haitians depends on the bi-national Dajabón market, located on the other side of the Massacre River separating the two cities. Yet, exclusionary regulations, arbitrary enforcement, and racial hostilities introduce major precarities in their lives. To ease the tensions and provide a more equitable trading arrangement, the European Union has funded a new market structure on the Haitian side, due for completion in 2020. On its own, the structure is unlikely to address the underlying inequities stemming from existing policy arrangements organizing access and trade.  

Through literature review, case studies, and field observations, this thesis examines and situates this contested border setting as a condition of conflict and exchange between the two cities. The thesis also speculates on the possibility of a new policy framework based on the notion of a new regional agricultural business cluster in Northeast Haiti, and how the space of the border could be articulated as a marker for a more prosperous Ouanaminthe.

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