This paper, dealing with the diffusion of technologically innovative tree planting strategies among the nonliterate population of rural Haiti, may seem to differ in its focus from the other papers in this volume, concerned as they are with the role of technological literacy. But the disparity is only apparent; there is a unifying underlying issue: Many of those writing about technological literacy are concerned with overcoming local barriers to the diffusion of innovative, appropriate technologies. To that agenda the lessons learned in rural Haiti — lessons about trees learned by Haitian peasants, and lessons about technological diffusion learned by program planners — are fully germane.
For several decades anthropologists working in the Caribbean have been explicitly aware of the need to look beyond the confines of the communities which they study, to take into consideration major national and supranational forces which have shaped and influenced local life (e.g. Smith 1956: chap. 8; Steward 1956:6-7; Padilla 1960:22; Manners 1960:80-82). But at first glance, the situation of the people of rural Haiti appears to be somewhat exceptional in this regard.