A Cultural Anthropology major and recipient of a Global Health certificate, Lauren Zalla (Trinity ’12) wrote her honors thesis Embodied History: Breastfeeding Beliefs and Practices in Haiti under the direction of Prof. Deborah Jenson. The project:
…works at the intersections of anthropology, history and public health to explore breastfeeding beliefs and practices in Haiti. It draws on survey and ethnographic research conducted from May-July 2011 in Leogane, the epicenter of the January 12, 2010 earthquake. An analysis of this data offers a novel summary and description of breastfeeding rates and beliefs in Haiti.
Taking into account the history of wet nursing on colonial plantations, as well as interviews with midwives, vodou practitioners, and foreign aid workers, I argue that breastfeeding promotion campaigns too often ignore the role of structural violence in determining breastfeeding practices. I investigate how the United States and Europe have performed and exacerbated structural violence in Haiti, from colonization to contemporary foreign policy. My project concludes with practical implications of this analysis for foreign aid organizations seeking to promote breastfeeding in Haiti.
Click the image on the left to see the poster Zalla presented at Duke’s 2012 Visible Thinking Undergraduate Research conference. Click here to see some of her field notes from Léogâne. To view the website that Zalla created for her independent study with the Haiti Lab, follow the “View Project” button below.