The Failure of State Building and the Promise of State Failure: Reinterpreting the Security – Development Nexus in Haiti

This article critically examines the discourse surrounding fragile states in relation to the security-development nexus. I draw on the case of Haiti to problematise key assumptions underpinning mainstream approaches to resolving concerns of security and development through the contemporary project of state building. In contrast, I suggest that a focus on the social and political relations constitutive of social struggles provides a framework for a better analysis of the historical trajectory of development in, and of, fragile states. Through an alternative relational interpretation of Haitian social and political formations, I illustrate the way in which Haitian experiences of social change have been co-produced in a world historical context. By foregrounding these relational dynamics at key conjunctures coinciding with periods in which the state, state formation and state building, were perceived to be central to Haitian development, this analysis highlights the extent to which attempts to consolidate the modern (liberal) state, have been implicated in the production and reproduction of insecurities. The article concludes by considering the salience of this relationally conceived interpretation of the security-development nexus for gaining insight into the alternative visions of progress, peace, and prosperity that people struggle for.

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