Haitian Women, Sabatoj, and Underground Food Economies

The movement of people and capital around the world necessitates that we explore the ways in which women interact with food through varying enterprises. Many of these activities are considered “off the books” or part of a shadow or underground economy. This alternative economic space usually involves otherwise law-abiding citizens who seek to provide for their families in ways that fall outside the formal economy. This ethnographic project examines three female street food vendors of Jacmel, Haiti. This project considers what happens when the underground becomes THE primary means of survival. Some could argue that the “informal system” reinforces a traditional patriarchy gender performance, yet the women reveal a system that sustains community and provides food for the masses in a more efficient and effective way than the government sponsored programs while simultaneously encouraging a sense of agency, support and a highly developed community networking system.

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