Migration evolves: the political economy of network process and form in Haiti, the U.S. and Canada
Saint-Louis, Loretta J.
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This study examines the evolution of the kin-based organization of Haitian migration to the U.S. and Canada during the Duvalier era. Using a model applicable to all migration, the study looks at two ways in which a hierarchy of interactive macrosystems shaped Haitian migration by generating constraints on choice. First, over a period of 290 years, the emerging world system, the European and U.S. empires, the Haitian national political-economy, and local political-economies have shaped Haiti's domestic systems. In doing this, they shaped the behavior patterns and ideology of kin units which make life decisions, thereby affecting migration choices. Second, at particular times, certain macrosystems, especially at the empire level, have strongly structured particular migration patterns, determining not only their direction but also, largely, their social organization. Structural conditions shaping migration to the U.S. and Canada between 1957 and 1986 encouraged kin-based organization. The specific Haitian forms of family and network processes, discovered through fifteen years of network observation and two years of intensive field work, stem from the traditions of the lakou, the extended family residential compound, which developed during the nineteenth century and disappeared during the mid-twentieth, due to land pressures from partible inheritance, ecological degradation, and U.S. penetration of the Haitian economy. Lakou traditions of joint action and solidarity among consanguineally-linked households inform current patterns of intense cooperation in migration among the nuclear family, the household, and a subset of the extended family, including adult siblings, their parents, and children. Migration structured through this form of social organization has numerous feedback effects on local and national political-economic and social systems in Haiti, the U.S., and Canada. The study concludes that migration evolves over time from the interaction of a hierarchy of political-economic macrosystems with domestic systems. The social and cultural processes as well as the political-economic processes generate and shape migration patterns. \
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