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9295: new book on community organization in Haiti (fwd)
From: Rose-May Guignard <email@example.com>
new book available at www.frontlist.com.
When the Hands Are Many: Community Organization and Social Change in
by Jennie M. Smith
Cornell University Press, paper
Due/Published: June 2001
In an ethnography that challenges standard approaches to
understanding the poor and disempowered, Smith's descriptions of
peasant activity change what constitutes a democratic society.
Through their civil institutions and artistic expression, Haitian
peasants, widely known as some of the world's most impoverished,
politically disempowered, and illiterate citizens, debate the
meanings of development, democracy, and the public good.
Smith offers a historically grounded overview of how the Haitian
state and certain foreign powers have sought to develop rural Haiti
and relates how Haitian peasants have responded to such efforts
through words and deeds. The author argues that songs called chante
pwen serve as "melodic machetes," a tool with which the peasants make
their voices heard in many social circumstances.
Smith illustrates the philosophies, styles, and structures typical of
social organization in rural Haiti with narrative portraits of
peasant organizations engaged in agricultural work parties, business
meetings, religious ceremonies, social service projects, song
sessions, and other activities. She integrates these organizations'
strengths into a new vision for social change and asks what must
happen in Haiti and elsewhere to facilitate positive transformation
in the world today.