White Papers

“Pronatal Sociocultural Fertility Complex” and “Sexual-Moral Economy”

Introduction Researchers working in Haiti have long noted that rural parents were extremely pronatal.  Both men and women hoped to have large families with many children. Social scientists typically explained the trend with “love” and “prestige,” “absence of contraceptives,” and “tradition” (Herskovits 1937: 89); “the desire to live with reason, and to die with dignity” (Lowenthal 1987:Read More

Fewer Men, More Babies: The Problem with the ‘Proximate and Intermediate Determinants of Fertility’ in the Caribbean

Here I want to show how Bongaarts and Potter’s (1983) “proximate and intermediate determinants of fertility” are inconsistent with ethnographic reality in the early and mid-20th century Caribbean. To do this I examine one of the great demographic mysteries of the Caribbean:  the irony of increasing birth rates when fewer men were present, i.e., fewerRead More

How Political, Activist, and Humanitarian Aid Agendas Have Corrupted Academic Understanding of Caribbean Family Patterns

Introduction Elsewhere, I have shown how social scientists studying  pre-industrialized Caribbean societies have largely rejected the notion that economic benefits of children among small farmers are a significant determinant of birth rates, kinship, and family and courtship practices. It is a rejection that permeates the literature; one that does not make sense in light ofRead More

The Missing Link in Understanding Caribbean Family Patterns: The Neglected Half of Chayanov’s Rule

Introduction The basis of my arguments in this article is that children are useful on the non-industrialized farm because they work. The point might at first seem trite and obvious, but in recent decades social scientists have so rigorously denied the economic utility of children in developing areas that the denial itself is fascinating. Moreover,Read More

Explaining Caribbean Family Patterns

Introduction The anthropology of the Caribbean has been called “the battle ground for competing theories regarding family structure” (D’Amico-Samuels 1988: 785). Anthropologists were confounded by a distinct regional family structure similar to that seen in Jean Rabel—including, late age at marriage, high rates of births to single women, matrifocality, child dispersal, de facto polygyny, serialRead More

Polygyny in Haiti

Another Misrepresentation of Gender in Haiti Introduction Little has changed in the 36 years since Melvin Ember (1974) admonished social researchers for what he called androcentric (male-centered) assumptions. The consequence, Ember warned, is too often a false image of the degree to which societies are patriarchic. This is especially true for Haiti. Most scholars andRead More

Gender in Haiti: Review of the Literature

This is a much expanded version of the two shorter ‘Gender in Haiti’ blogs.   It sums up the radical misunderstanding NGOs, some scholars and most journalists have presented of gender in Haiti before and after the earthquake.  Haiti Gender: Review of the Literature  Gender in Haiti is and long has been highly patterned andRead More

Dominican Republic: Where Did all the Girls Go? Rural Dominican Sex Ratios

First published on June 16, 2012 on Open Salon This blog treats demographic trends found in mountain park areas of the Dominican Republic. The reason that I am publishing here is that I believe it provides a fascinating contrast to demographic conditions found on the other side of the border, in rural Haiti, where differentialRead More

Children of Haiti: The Haitian Restavek and Child Slavery

Originally published June 16 2012 on Open Salon The cry ‘child slavery’ grabbed world attention in 1998 when Haitian born Jean-Robert Cadet published his shocking autobiography, From Haitian Slave Child to Middle-Class American, in which he recounted his life as a restavek, the Haitian Creole word for child domestic servant. As the Cadet Foundation websiteRead More

Methods: EMMA Maps for Post Earthquake Agricultural Labor in Jacmel

Originally published in February 2012 on Open Salon Here I share two EMMA (Emergency Marketing Map Analyses). The reason I am putting them here is because they don’t exist anywhere else. My employers for the job for which they were produced didn’t appreciate them. Apparently they didn’t approve of the use of color gradients andRead More