Saturday, August 14, 2010
Early Haitian subsistence
This is an interesting article by Bob Corbett, who maintains an encyclopedic website on Haiti. In this article, he basically argues that the subsistence farming system adopted by peasants under Petion, the first ruler of independent southern Haiti, was not a calamity but rather a very good option for Haitians at the time. They had recently won independence from brutal slavery, and did not want the plantation system the new northern rulers were trying to push. So peasants retreated into a simple but satisfactory life in the countryside. According to Corbett, this satisfactory subsistence lifestyle became an unsatisfactory life of misery in the 20th century, when the system's very success led to increased population and resource demands, hence reducing abundance per person.