Governing Affect: Neoliberalism and Disaster Reconstruction

By Roberto E. Barrios | Go to book overview

3. Feelings of Inequity
GENDER AND THE POSTCOLONIAL MODERNITY OF
DISASTER RECONSTRUCTION

Before Hurricane Mitch, Doña Concepción Rodriguez lived in Barrio Buenos Aires, one of the riverfront neighborhoods of Choluteca. She shared a home with her husband, Don Ricardo, and their five children and helped support her family by making and selling tortillas in the city’s central market. When they needed assistance with child care while she was working outside the home, for many years the Rodriguezes relied on trusted neighbors who lived in close proximity. They had to feel confianza (trust) with someone before entrusting their children to that person’s supervision. In southern Honduras, confianza is a sentiment that emerges over time, but time is not the only element involved in the sensation. For people to develop confianza, Cholutecans like Concepción and Ricardo also have to sense a kindredness with the cultural embodiment, the way of being, of their neighbors.

Two and a half years after the catastrophe, I sat down with Doña Concepción at her home in Limón de la Cerca and talked about her life in the resettlement site. During our conversation I asked about the ways she and her husband made a living in Mitch’s aftermath, and she replied, “I work here in the house, watching the children. I don’t work” (structured interview transcription 2000). When I asked why she no longer sold tortillas at the market, Doña Concepción explained, “Now I don’t sell because I am afraid of leaving the children, leaving the children alone, because here there are many delinquents.” In addition to her fear, which was generated by the conditions of social instability in Limón, Doña Concepción had also abandoned her work at the market because she had yet to develop a sense of confianza with her new neighbors. The municipality’s random distribution of land parcels had fractured important affect-laden relationships among longtime neighbors and relatives,

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