December 24, 1984
Ms. Marilyn Kohn
235 W. 70th Street, Apt. H
New York, New York 10023
Re: Ingrid Palmer Manuscript
Later on, I may have some further, more detailed comments on the manuscript,
but at this point I find it almost impossible to read. In any case, it
seems to me that what your author needs is a wider variety of case studies.
I therefore have combed through my sources, and come-up with the attached
list. The thought occurs to me that if I can locate this many sources in
an afternoon, browsing through just what I have at hand, that others who
specialize in different world areas will be able to help. I have xeroxed
a chapter from Connell,et al., which unfortunately dates from 1976, but
which does seem to have a lot of other possible sources. Additionally,
other development assistance agencies may have commissioned case studies like
the Smale reference; in addition to a day spent in the USAID documents center,
I would suggest trying the British, Danish, Swedish and Dutch development
Addressing now the first part prior to the case studies, I miss any discus-
sion -- except for some brief assertions that women are not, as was supposed,
better off because of emigration of their menfolk -- of the theoretical
issues related to outmigration from the rural areas and effects on women's
participation, and on food and nutrition. Some of this discussion goes on
in the migration literature; also in agricultural and nutrition studies, as
well as in the women-in-development research. The biggest argument now is
whether or not the marginal contribution to agricultural production is ever
zero, and if not, then how the withdrawal of labor affects production, and
how the absent labor is compensated for. Dasgupta's excellent article*
argues that there are only four possibilities: (a) a shift in the crop
combinations in favor of less labor-intensive crops, or crops which could be
cultivated by women; (b) a technological shift towards labor-saving equipment
(c) a greater participation of women in work, and (d) a greater reliance on
hired labor from other villages. It seems to me that what we are talking
about is the interplay between these different kinds of trade-offs, emphasizing
the changes that are occurring that have a special impact on food distribution
I also miss any placing of this issue in a wider, broader theoretical context,
at either the community, national or international level.
From my reading of the literature, admittedly skewed towards the Caribbean,
there appears to be a general pattern in the socio-economic change going on
*Biplab Dasgupta, "Rural-Urban Migration and Rural Development." Pp. 43-58 in
Jorge Balin, editor. Why People Move. Paris, UNESCO. A good, recent series
of articles to catch up on recent theoretical concerns in migration is Interna-
tional Migration Review, Special issue on Theory and Methods in Migration Research,
16, 2 (Summer 1982).
in rural areas as a result of the outmigration of men:
1. Men leave, either temporarily or for good. Women adapt, first by
cutting down on cash crops, if any; then by falling back into
2. There also are changes in cropping patterns, i.e., substituting in
some cases less nutritious but more easily cultivated crops(cassava)
for the more nutritious.
3. There is a great deal of evidence in the material I've been looking
at that (a) much land is allowed to fall out of production, and
lie fallow, although it is held for other purposes, or (b) land is
put to cattle grazing, a much less labor-intensive, but often not
the most efficient use
4. Evidence from the Caribbean is that little investment is made in
agriculture; there is some investment in land, for prestige purposes,
but the overwhelming proportion of remittances is invested in new
houses, or in improving the old, not in agricultural inputs.
5. On their definitive return, many migrants do not go back to farming,
but instead use savings to open small shops, rum bars, or to buy
trucks, taxis or buses, or fishing boats. They may resettle in
the towns, and not return to the land even on a part-time basis.
It would appear that an inquiry such as Palmer's ought to frame these issues*
(and perhaps a few others) as questions and then attempt to provide what answers
there are from the literature thematically, and not country-by-country.
Otherwise, we get case studies that consist in simply abstracting the main
information, in no special order -- and the difficulty that, in some cases,
the citations are ibids that go on for five and six pages. I find this
very hard going; an article such as this should tease out the information
relevant to help us answer a few well-defined questions, and not simply be
a summary of the case studies -- otherwise, why not simply go and read the
case studies themselves?
There also is a need to establish, in the first part, some kind of "baseline"
from which we are to depart, i.e.-, if we are going to see what changes come
about because of male emigration, we need to know to what degree women are
involved in agriculture in different world areas. We should not take it for
granted that the reader necessarily will know the literature that documents
women's participation in agricultural production.
I hope that these general comments will be helpful, and that you will be
successful in locating more case studies. All best wishes.
7215 Windsor Lane -h
Hyatttsville, Md. 20782
*I realize that the case of southern Africa is quite different, and perhaps
in other parts of Africa as well. But the sequence outlined here appears to
be general in other world areas.
Some suggestions for additional case study material. These are
biased towards .areas where I have.worked and, thus, am aware of
material. This leads me to believe that much more case material
exists (some of it "fugitive," and thus you would need to contact
other persons with strong area interests different from mine to
locate it); it certainly would be worthwhile at least making the
attempt to obtain some of it. To begin to see trends and to make
the monograph worthwhile,- I would think that at least two or three
dozen case studies are necessary, and I am sure they exist!
1. Bourque, Susan C. and Kay Barbara Warren. Women of the Andes:
Patriarchy and Social Change in Two Peruvian Towns. Ann
Arbor, Michigan: The University of Michigan Press.
This is not a case study bearing directly on the topic of
Palmer's study (although the coastal migration of men is
mentioned). But it is awfully good on what women do in
agriculture, and because so little on Latin America has been
located, may be worth getting for at least some information
2. Bukh, Jette. The Village Woman in Ghana. ,Uppsala: Scandina-
vian Institute of African Studies, 1979.
I was really surprised not to see this as one of Palmer's
case studies, since it is so frequently cited and readily
available. Bukh's argument is that since the introduction
of cocoa as a cash crop and the development of patterns of
male migration, male farmers started to grow cocoa and gave
less attention to their traditional food crop of yams. Gra-
dually the responsibilities for food production were left
mainly to the women, with yams being replaced by other crops
like maize and cassava which require less labor. While
men were drawn more into the cash economy, first as cocoa
producers and then, later on, when the conditions for cocoa
production changed, also migrant laborers, the women were
allocated the major role within subsistence activities.
Yet, because the traditional social stuctures still operate
at a practical level, women have less access to essential
resources such as land, labor, capital, education and tech-
nical knowledge. Women's agricultural work thus results in
low productivity and low nutritional value (cassava providing
much less protein than yam).
3. Cernea, Michael. "Macrosocial Change, Feminization of Agriculture,
and Peasant Women's Threefold Economic Role." Sociologia
Ruralis 18, 2/3 (1978): 107-24. Also available free as World
Bank Reprint No. 98.
This is an article on the increasing involvement of peasant
women in Romania in agriculture, as men have been drawn into
non-agricultural employment. There are also references to
*If you want to order it, the address is P.O. Box 2126, S-750 02,
Chaney Page 2
the same phenomenon in other European countries, i.e., Hungary,
Italy, Poland, Turkey, USSR, Germany. I have heard also of
studies of women's increasing role in agriculture because of
male migration to Western Europe from Portugal and Spain, but
to be honest have not be bestirred myself to track them down.
I think this would be a good publication to have at least for
4. Dinerman, Ina R. Migrants and Stay-at-Homes: A Comparative Study
of Rural Migration from Michoacan, Mexico. La Jolla, Calif.:
Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, University of California, San
Diego, 1982. Monograph Series No. 5.*
Dinerman analyzes changes in households of two rural communi-
ties; looks at the impacts on the sending communities, in-
cluding the altered family roles, the entry of more women
into production and market activities, and the way that agri-
culture has been relegated to an adjunct activity.
A very good candidate for a case study.
5. Gussler, Judith D. Nutritional Implications of Food Distribution
Networks in St. Kitts. Ph.D. dissertation, Ohio State Univer-
sity, 1974. Part of her argument is available in "Networks
of Women in St. Kitts," pp. 185-209 in Erika Bourguignon,
editor, A World of Women: Anthropological Studies of Women in
the Societies of the World. New York: Praeger and J.F. Ber-
Looks at how lower-class women develop survival networks through
the utilization of a network of human resources. Includes
information on women's gardens and other strategies to get
food in the face of failing agriculture. Emphasis on women's
aggressiveness and resourcefulness. Another good candidate
for a case study; St. Kitts is an island of very high male
6. Hill, Donald Raymond. England, I Want to Go:. The Impact of Mi-
gration on a Caribbean Community [Carrriacou, Grenada].
Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University, 1973. Also published
as The Impact of Migration on the Metropolitan and Folk Socie-
ty of Carriacou, Grenada. New York: Anthropological Papers of
the American Museum of Natural History, Vol. 54, Pt. 2, pp.
Focusses on the impact of emigration on economic and social
relations, especially the effects of outmigration of males
on the sex ratio. Has quite a bit of material on the land
system, agriculture, and the division of labor between the
sexes. A good candidate for a case study; it illustrates
the problems of a good many Caribbean small islands that
have become, or are becoming, "remittance societies," through
the destruction of their agriculture. On Carriacou, one of
the survival strategies is the planting of small gardens for
*University of California -San Diego, La Jolla, Calif. 92093.
Chaney Page 3
7. Philpott, Stuart B. West Indian Migration: The Montserrat Case.
London: The Athlone Press, and New York: Humanities Press,
Inc., 1973. London School of Economics Monographs on Social
Anthropology, No. 47.
A very detailed study of the effects of migration on another
community that is fast becoming a "remittance society."
Documents how the cultivation of cotton, once a major cash
crop, has declined. Has very detailed information on women
and men's agricultural and other work activities. Information
on what women do has to be teased out, but it definitely is
there, and worth the trouble. Good candidate for a case study.
8. Smale, Melinda. Women in Mauritania: The Effects of Drought and
Migration on their Economic Status and Implications for
Development Programs. Paper prepared for the Office of Women
in Development, USAID, 1980.
Smale, an economist with the Dept. of Agriculture (training
at Univ. of Wisconsin), has done a first rate paper, a full
length treatment of the issue. Shows how women, are full-time
residents of rural areas because of economic pressures for
male outmigration...and how women and children form the
permanent agricultural and livestock production force, and
will for some time to come. The responses of the different
ethnic groups were, however, different; some women turned to
trade; others to marketing activities, and still others to
vegetable cultivation, and by altering their crops for better
This is a made-to-order case study, since the object was to
study exactly what Palmer has set out as her focus: the
impact of male outmigration on women in farming households.
Incidentally, some of the other studies commissioned by the
WID office may be useful; these usually have been done by
academics, and do not suffer from an "aid" bias. It might
be worthwhile to have a look at what is in the AID Document
Center (where, incidentally, this publication is available).*
9. Solien de Gonzalez, Nancie. Black Carib Household Structure:
a Study of Migration and Modernization. Seattle: University
of Washington Press, 1969.
From dissertation on Black Carib or Garifuna of Guatemala;
one of first treatments of female household heads, migrant
wage labor and imbalance of adult females, and impact on
the society. Gonzalez has been following these people since
1956-57; she found in 1979 that they had all but abandoned
fishing and farming (article in International Migration Review
13, 2 (Summer 1979): 255-63). Good candidate for case study.
Also, Palmer may want to look at Gonzalez' classic article
on typology of households created by male outmigration: American
Anthropologist 63, 6 (Dec. 1961): 1264-80.
*You can locate through AID Document Center, Rosslyn Plaza
brancy, Room 105 SA-18, USAID, Washington, D.C. 20523.
Chaney Page 4
10. Stavrakis, Olga. The Effects of Agricultural Change on Social
Conditions and Diet in a Village in Northern Belize. Ph.D.
dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1979. (Some of this
information also contained in an article by Stavrakis and
Marion Louise Marshall, "Women, Agriculture and Development
in the Maya Lowlands: Profit or Progress, pp. 157-74 in Ann
Bunzel Cowan, editor. Proceedings and Papers of the Inter-
national Conference on Women and Food, Volume I. Tucson:
Consortium for International Development, University of Arizona,
and Office of Women in Development, USAID, 1978.)
Again, an excellent candidate for a case study. Stavrakis
describes the negative changes brought on by the rapid rise
in sugar cane production in a rural Belize community. Cash
earnings are used to purchase food which families formerly
grew in small corn fields and vegetable gardens. This change
results in women having less control over productive resources.
and become more economically dependent upon the menfolk.
Moreover, many of the cultural practices of reciprocal food
exchanges are no longer possible without corn production for
chicken and pig feed. Thus, agricultural development has
contributed to undermining the family's nutritional status.
11. Swanson, J.C. The Consequences of Emigration for Economic
Development in the Yemen Arab Republic. Ph.D. dissertation,
Wayne State University, 1978.
I have not reviewed this thesis, but according to Birks and
Sinclair, p. 90, it contains information on the role of women
and its expansion to cover tasks relinquished by men on their
departure as migrant laborers; as a consequence, the standard
of husbandry has fallen, and the infrastructure is deteriora-
ting. May be a candidate for a case study.
Also, Palmer may like to look at the series of studies done
by Birks and Sinclair, of most Arab countries, summed up in
International Migration and Development in the Arab Region
Geneva: ILO, 1980. They do have some references to women.
[J.S. Birks and C.A. Sinclair]
12. Weist, Raymond E. "Wage-labour Migration and the Household
in a Mexican Town." Journal of Anthropological Research 29,
3 (1973): 180-209.
I have seen references to this study in a number of places,
and think it may be a doctoral thesis. Looks at decision-
making patterns on family members left behind. May be worth
looking at; I am not sure to what extent, if any, it deals
with agricultural effects.
There are a number of other references dealing with southern Africa;
however, since Palmer already has so many of these, I will not go
into detail, but just give the citations; perhaps she has looked at
them and rejected them, but they do have a great deal of pertinent
information on the topic.
Andrehn, Inga-Lill, Dinah Rambemila and Maria Smitt, The
Living Conditions of Women in the Northern Rural Develop-
ment Area of Swaziland. United Nations Office of Techical
Chaney Page 5
Magagula, Glenn Themba. A Socio-Economic Analysis and
Evaluation of the Rural Development Areas in Swaziland.
Ph.D. dissertation, University of Maryland, 1978.
Has a great deal of information on what women do in
agriculture, and the differential use of credit, tools,
I should very much like to have this thesis, by the
Rosen-Prinz, Beth D. and Frederick Rosen-Prinz. Migrant
Labour and Rural Homesteads: An Investigation into the
Sociological Dimensions of the Migrant Labour System
in Swaziland. Geneva: International Labour Organization,
Migration for Employment Programme. Working Paper No.
I have not gotten around to ordering this paper myself,
but have seen a number of references to it, and from
them, it appears to have a good deal of information on
the women left behind.