Service-Learning as the Violence of Mercy after the 2010 Haitian Earthquake


  • Megan Bailey The University of Alabama



Service-Learning, alternative break, accompaniment, mercy, best practices, Haiti Compact


This article draws on La Paperson’s (2010) notion of the “violence of mercy” to demonstrate how the service-learning response to the 2010 Haitian earthquake fits into an ongoing neocolonial mission that harms communities served (p. 25). This is done by investigating the best practices of the Haiti Compact, a cohort of American colleges and universities operating service-learning initiatives in Haiti after the earthquake in thoughtful ways intending to help with the recovery efforts while meaningfully contributing service via the ritual presence of international volunteers. Despite good intentions, their material practices of service-learning risk harm for community partners and fail to meet established best practice goals. By examining the work of service-learning educators who commit to best practices, place ethics, community, and social justice, we can understand the limits of possibility for a pedagogy that is predicated upon students entering communities as outsiders intent upon meeting community needs.

Author Biography

Megan Bailey, The University of Alabama

is an Assistant Professor in the Honors College at The University of Alabama. She received her Ph.D. in Instructional Leadership with a concentration in Social and Cultural Studies from The University of Alabama. Her research interests include honors students, ethics education, community-based pedagogies, and college student learning. Email: 


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How to Cite

Bailey, M. (2023). Service-Learning as the Violence of Mercy after the 2010 Haitian Earthquake. Engaged Scholar Journal: Community-Engaged Research, Teaching, and Learning, 9(2).

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