Using Post-Disaster Development Paradigms to Reverse Structural Determinist Frameworks and Empower Small Farmers in Mississippi and Haiti

The goal of this article is to extrapolate some key lessons from studying two pre-disaster structures that perpetuated environmental oppression and poverty as well as to develop post-development economic models in these disaster-stricken areas. Furthermore, the article considers the environmental movement as a vehicle for implementing the policies proposed. It also investigates how individuals within these deterministic structures can be empowered to overcome the structural realities that help perpetuate poverty and environmental oppression.

In so doing, this article borrows from Critical Race Theory’s notion of structural determinism to denounce the hierarchical structures promulgated by neutral rules in agricultural legislation and to further analyze the commonalities in the realities faced by farmers all over the world. It analyzes some structural and policy-based problems that have had detrimental effects on poor regions like Haiti and the Gulf Coast. Disasters like Katrina and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti exacerbate these problems and serve as reminders that these disparities need to be eradicated when implementing post-disaster development plans.

Consequently, this paper is divided into the following parts: Part I discusses the application of the structural determinist principle to the agricultural context in Mississippi and Haiti. Part II discusses the rural isolation discriminatory practices with regards to small farmers and the challenges faced by rural residents pre- and post-Katrina. Part III analyzes the challenges existing in Haiti pre-disaster. Part IV discusses the effects of American agricultural policies on small farmers domestically and abroad. Part V considers a model for post-disaster development that attempts to reverse the oppressive effects of current agricultural policies. Finally, Part VI explores the environmental movement’s potential for helping to implement post-disaster development plans.


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