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Humanities symposium to examine art engendered by Haiti earthquake

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, June 2010
October 13, 2011

How are Haitians coping one year after the earthquake? In a recent trip to Haiti, two ASU professors discovered how art plays an important role in Haitians’ lives thanks to a seed grant from the Institute for Humanities Research.

The IHR Seed Grant symposium “The Art of Recovery: Port-au-Prince 2010” will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday, October 18 in Social Sciences building, Room 109 on the Tempe campus. This event is free and open to the public.

The symposium includes a photographic exhibit of Haitian responses to the devastation engendered by the 2010 earthquake, as well as a recorded interview with the project’s Haitian correspondents and a discussion of the research project and its future prospects.

The photographs in the exhibit document a trip made to Haiti on the first anniversary of the January 2010 earthquake. They capture the stark contrasts of a country both devastated and rebuilding, grieving yet welcoming, anxious but energetic. What these photos can only hint at is the extraordinary warmth and resilience of people who have suffered terribly and who are hoping that, despite the ruin, this could be a new beginning.

“Traumas elicit strong humanistic responses,” says Thomas Puleo, co-researcher on the project and Assistant Professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies.

“This study first grounds itself in a survey of humanistic aspects of past post-quake responses as well as clinical studies of post-disaster art therapy before examining the current Haitian tragedy.”

Puleo, along with co-researcher Mark Cruse, Associate Professor in the School of International Letters and Cultures, anticipate that the result of the project will be a stronger understanding of the role that humanistic activities play in post-catastrophe recovery as a form of place making.

View a narrative slideshow of the Art of Recovery seed grant project at ASU’s Research Matters website:

The IHR seed grant program is designed to provide support for projects that advance the transdisciplinary, collaborative, and issue-focused mission of the Institute and are sufficiently developed to be competitive for national grants. Seed grant funds are available for transdisciplinary projects for junior and senior humanities faculty members and/or collaborative teams.  Funds may be requested for the purpose of conducting research and developing proposals for submission to external funding agencies.  It is expected that with a year of support for planning and research, faculty will enhance the competitive nature of their grant proposals.

The Institute for Humanities Research in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences was established in 2005. It has taken the lead in promoting excellence and innovation in humanities scholarship by contributing to scholarly research that addresses socially significant issues and engaging the community. More information is available at or 480-965-3000.

Kirsten Keane,