Lakou Model

Traditionally, extended families in rural Haiti would organize themselves into clusters of homes surrounding a central courtyard. This organizational structure is called the lakou, a term which also denotes the extended family group itself. The lakou model has its roots in Haiti’s plantation heritage. As a nation emerging from enslavement, Haiti adopted the lakou as a means to safeguard against the return of the plantation. The lakou became a grassroots opposition to any state action tending to reinstate the plantation order. Existing entirely outside the state, the lakou became what Gérard Barthélemy called “an egalitarian system without a state.”

Bogdan, Lea. 01 March 2010. "Duany Flatpack Prefab Unveiled, 1000 Shelters to be Donated to Haiti Read more: 1000 Duany Shelters to be Donated to Haiti | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building." Accessed 30 April 2012

A second major contributing factor to the development of the lakou was the rise of vodou in Haiti. After Haiti achieved independence in 1804, it faced 56 years of neglect on the part of the Catholic Church. In this chasm, vodou—rooted in West African traditions—flourished. The absence of the Church throughout the early 1800’s allowed for other West African traditions, such as the family compound, to reemerge. This family compound structure, intimately linked with vodou practice, became the foundation for the Lakou system.

Dubois, Laurent. Haiti: The Aftershocks of History. New York: Metropolitan, 2012.Google Books. Web. 30 Apr. 2012.

Nesbitt, Nick. “Turning the Tide: The Problem of Popular Insurgency in Haitian Revolutionary Historiography.” Oct. 2008. Web. 30 Apr. 2012.

Stevens, A. M. (1998). Haitian womens food networks in haiti and oldtown, united states of america. Brown University).ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, , 364 p.

2 thoughts on “Lakou Model

  1. Thank you for your post. I appreciate better understanding what the lakou is and what appears to be it’s revolutionary/anti-colonial nature.

  2. Even in the midst of so much adversity and brutality, the ingenuity, wit and wisdom of the enslaved black in the New World is simply impressive. We have an obligation to research, scrutinize, collect data and search the past to present results about this whole process of survival and resistance of this millennial black, about which we insist on knowing so little.

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