Heather Prentice-Walz

Graduate Student


Sociocultural Anthropology
Ph.D. emphases in: Global Studies, Environment and Society

  • International Nongovernmental Organizations
  • Haitian Culture and History
  • Critical Climate Justice
  • Environmental and Human Health and Wellbeing
  • Disaster Studies
  • Globalized Food Systems


MA- Anthropology, University of California Santa Barbara, 2019
MA- Anthropology, Northern Illinois University, 2017
BA- Anthropology, Reed College, 2011


Heather’s work is an ethnographically-informed, critical research engagement with the
concept of wellbeing in the context of foreign aid interventions in the rural Grand’Anse region of
Haiti. Her research situates foreign and development aid interventions within processes of
ongoing and accumulating disasters and examines the converging sociohistorical processes that
produce these disasters. Specifically, it explores the relationships between perceptions of climate
change and conceptualizations of well-being as a means of nuancing and localizing these
concepts and relating them to structural perspectives, which are inextricable from processes of
racial capitalism, colonialism, and neoliberal globalization. Her work argues that certain disasters
(such as Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and major earthquakes in Haiti in 2010 and 2021) coupled
with the perceived absence of wellbeing (as it is conceptualized by dominant foreign aid and
development organizations) provides justifications for international intervention. At the same
time, her research suggests that these international interventions may (re)produce disasters and
structural inequalities and undermine wellbeing (as it is conceptualized by local community
members) in the Grand’Anse. Her work analyzes and compares the ways that foreign aid and
development organizations and local stakeholders conceive of different dimensions of wellbeing
as a means of illuminating cyclical, problematic aid practices, and pointing to ways of unsettling
these cycles.