Haitians : SV03


  • This collection of 12 documents, all in English, covers historical, cultural, economic and environmental information, circa mid-1520s to 2001, on the peoples of Haiti which occupy the western third of the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean. A majority of the documents are concerned with Marbial, a rural community in central Haiti as observed in 1934-1957, and a slum urban community in the capital Port-au-Prince. The basic works to consult are three documents, all written by American anthropologists and based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in 1934-1955. Of these three, Leyburn (1966) provides the most comprehensive introduction to the island's cultural and political history. Herskovits (1937) is a study of peasant life in Marbial with particular emphasis on religion, but also aspects of economic activities and social organization. Courlander (1960) provides a detailed description of Haitian religion and folklore, highlighting elements which he considers to have originated in traditional African regions. The information in these documents is further enriched by follow-up research focusing on specific themes. The works of Jennie Marcelle Smith and Alfred Métraux provide important updates on the peasants of Marbial with particular emphasis on aspects of economic life (Métraux 1951) and structural causes for the continued impoverishment and marginalization of rural people (Smith 2001). Other themes covered in these recent studies include dynamics of urban life in a downtown Port-au-Prince community called Upper Belair (Languerre 1982), childbearing practices and maternal health care (Allman 2011), family life and regulations of sexual relations (Simpson 1942), traditional association for mutual help and cooperation (Métraux 1952), class relations (Comhaire 1955), and significance of kinship ties among market women (Legeman 1962).


  • This portion of eHRAF world cultures was last updated in 2013 and is a revision and update of the microfiche file.
  • Title from Web page (viewed Oct. 10, 2013).
  • Includes bibliographical references.


  • Childbearing and the training of traditional birth attendants in rural Haiti / Suzanne Allman -- The Haitian 'Chef de Section' / Jean L. Comhaire -- The drum and the hoe : life and lore of the Haitian people / Harold Courlander -- Life in a Haitian valley / Melville J. Herskovits -- Urban life in the Caribbean : a study of a Haitian urban community / Michel S. Laguerre -- Culture summary, Haitians / Robert Lawless -- Kin groups in a Haitian market / Miss Caroline J. Legerman -- The Haitian people / James G. Leyburn ; with an new introduction by Sidney W. Mintz-- Making a living in the Marbial Valley, Haiti / report prepared by Alfred Métraux in collaboration with E. Berrouet and Dr. and Mrs. Jean Comhaire-Sylvain -- Affiliations through work in Marbial, Haiti / Rhoda Métraux -- Sexual and familial institutions in northern Haiti / George Eaton Simpson -- When the hands are many : community organization and social change in rural Haiti / Jennie Marcelle Smith
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