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Roumer, Aïda

Roumer, Aïda

PhD candidate in Political Economy @ Goethe University Frankfurt


Aïda Roumer completed a BA in Economics and Development as well as an MSc in Political Economy of Development at SOAS (University of London). She is currently a PhD candidate in Political Economy at Goethe University Frankfurt. In her research, she focuses on the economic interdependencies between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, with a particular emphasis on current border relations and labour movements. Being of Haitian-German descent she conducts her research in English, French, Kreyol and Spanish and lives between Dajabón, Frankfurt and Ouanaminthe.

Geographical location : Frankfurt

Research Area and Interest : economic interdependencies between Haiti and the Dominican Republic

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Borders, Politics, Corruption


Building back better – Garment assembly on the Haitian-Dominican border
Summary: In the discourse on Haitian development and institutions-building, the earthquake that hit Hispaniola on 12th January 2010, has been described as a ‘critical juncture’, a moment where the course of development can change for the better. The idea of a ‘blank page, of ‘starting from zero’ is one, that is recurring in development narratives. It’s the narrative of building up a country from the ruins – even more – of ‘building back better’. The Export Processing Zones in Caracol and Ouanaminthe, provide two examples of the ways in which such development narratives have been mobilised to allow for the construction of internationally operating industrial parcs in the North-Eastern department of Haiti. Underlying is the idea that garment assembly and free trade zones can provide a win-win solution for investors as well as an impoverished labour force. Yet, there is no empirical data which has established a causal effect between export processing and development. Using Caracol and Ouanaminthe as examples, and drawing on empirical data, the impact of the garment assembly sector on workers’ livelihoods and capabilities will therefore be addressed. Furthermore, the political context of these two business-driven development solutions will be drawn out. The aim of the paper is to probe to what extent the ‘blank page’ which an Export Processing Zone may suggest is not, in fact, filled with subtext.

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