The Catholicism of more than one postcolonial group in the New World has been described as a surface veneer masking a much deeper commitment to non-European cultural forms and value? A number of careful studies have been done of Haitian voodoo and the authors generally allude in passing to the superficial nature of Catholic elements in the cult. My own research among Haitian peasants has turned a number of important non-Christian elements.
THE GERALD MURRAY ARCHIVE
THE GERALD MURRAY ARCHIVE
Long considered as a reference in regards to anthropological research in Haiti, Gerald Murray’s work, particularly in regards to Agrarian, Ritual and Healing systems of rural Haiti, as well as agroforestry systems and ultimately the relation between people and trees are of utmost importance to anyone wishing to understand the country and its people.
EKO HAITI is thrilled to be able to provide open access to the works, published and unpublished, of American Anthropologist Gerald Murray. The work presented here focuses primarily on agrarian communities, their land tenure, land use, market systems and agroforestry but also deals heavily with the local Afro-Caribbean religious system (“Voodoo” or “Vodou”) and with the evolution of the folk-healing system so closely linked to the ritual system.
Though differing in emphasis from each other, several attempts to explain rural Haitian poverty, including the field studies of Moral (1961) and the more recent literature searches by Zuvekas (1978) and Lundahl (1979), have concurred in their identification of deforestation and soil erosion as major impediments to economic well-being in rural Haiti. Largely in response to Zuvekas' findings, several planners in the late 70's, aware that large sums of money had been wasted on unsuccessful reforestation and erosion control projects in Haiti, asked whether the root of the failure might not lie in Haitian peasant land tenure insecurity, in an unwillingness on the part of the Haitian peasants to make long-term investments in land in which they felt they had little long-term security.
As an anthropologist, I became interested in learning about life in Haitian villages. Despite a tightly controlled government ("Baby Doc" had succeeded his father "Papa Doc"), I was able to secure permission to settle into a small village with my wife to carry out two years of research. I was warned to stay away from Voodoo. Too many foreigners had spent too much time indulging their curiosity about this exotic cult I was told. I agreed. I preferred to learn about "the real Haiti" the economic and domestic organisation of village life.
This report presents certain preliminary observations on the functioning of the Gros Morne Project. It is based on information during a brief field visit made during December of 1982. Both authors, at different times, had been approached by Project Staff with a view to possibly carrying out a formal evaluation of the project. This visit, however, was made as a preliminary contact, not as part of the formal evaluation. Because of the brevity of the visit, the information presented in these pages should be construed not as definitive findings, but as "carefully analyzed impressions."
In this report, we will present a somewhat detailed description and analysis of the food-related beliefs and behaviours of a community of Haitian peasant cultivators located in the Cul-de-Sac Plain. Our intention is to synthesize for readers interested in Haitian peasant life a complex body of information which we gathered on matters specifically related to food. This entails descriptions not only of community nutrition beliefs and ideals but also of actual community behaviour with respect to the preparation and distribution of food.
In the following pages, I will present both descriptive and quantitative information, gathered in a Haitian village during 21 months of fieldwork. information reveals the somewhat unexpected but empirically convincing and critical role which Haitian-peasant Voodoo plays in the contemporary land tenure system; specifically, this cult was found to function as a partially camouflaged resource-circulating mechanism, a role that seems to have arisen in the context of recent population growth.
In these pages I will describe and analyse the recent emergence, in a mountainous region of rural Haiti, of a locally unique but technically effective erosion control strategy which, though unknown some two decades ago, had by the late 1970's become an essential, universally adopted element in the agrarian repertoire of peasant cultivators in the research community.
- Gerald Murray
The present report has been commissioned by USAID in Haiti as an attempt to provide a conceptual overview of the soil conservation projects that have been operating in Haiti during the past two and a half decades. Recent studies commissioned by USAID have referred in a convincing but general way to the central role which deforestation and soil erosion play in the contemporary impoverishment of the rural economy, and few persons would dispute the contention that reforestation and general soil conservation constitute a sine qua non for any serious rural development in a country which has nearly 80% of its surface in the form of slopes.
- Gerald Murray
This report is a companion report, highly applied in nature, to another report which the author has prepared discussing several general issues and ambiguities which have arisen concerning the dynamics of rural Haitian land tenure. In June of 1978, I had prepared a preliminary report on land tenure for USAID/Haiti. The materials for the present report were gathered during a visit to Aux Cayes, made with the intention of getting impressions on the land tenure situation in the region of PDAI activities, in particular, the Acul River watershed. Edit with Elementor | Save draft Preview Publish Add title Hillside Units, Wage Labor, And Rural Haitian Land Tenure This report is a companion report, highly applied in nature, to another report which the author has prepared discussing several general issues and ambiguities which have arisen concerning the dynamics of rural Haitian land tenure. In June of 1978, I had prepared a preliminary report on land tenure for USAID/Haiti. The materials for the present report were gathered during a visit to Aux Cayes, made with the intention of getting. impressions on the land tenure situation in the region of PDAI activities, in particular the Acul River watershed.
This study, based on twenty-one months of fieldwork, documents the occurrence of "cultural evolution" in the form of a series of adaptive land-sharing strategies that have emerged in a Haitian peasant community, serving as a partial buffer against the deleterious impact of internal population growth. The recent anthropological literature on agricultural intensification emphasizes adaptive changes in technology as an agrarian response to population growth.