Graduation Year

2003

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Anthropology

Major Professor

Yelvington, Kevin A.

Keywords

Caribbean, economic anthropology, feminism, international development, self-employment

Abstract

From the perspectives of economic anthropology, feminist anthropology, and feminist theory, this applied anthropological study is an evaluation of a popular international development model targeting poor women. Based on the celebrated Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, the so-called "microcredit" model is designed as a poverty alleviation strategy to provide small loans to poor women in rural settings and is designed to facilitate microenterprise development. Due to the popularity of the microcredit model with the international development community, it is being replicated in different settings. Through an analysis of microenterprise development among Afro-Caribbean women, this study presents the argument that successful application of international development strategies, such as the microcredit model, requires consideration of three critical factors if the objective is to facilitate economic empowerment.

First, international development policy and practice has tended to homogenize women, enforce gender-typed work, and emphasize group structure regardless of recipients' needs or preferences. Second, attempts by local governments to replicate the microcredit model may fail due to lack of commitment or inadequate infrastructure. Third, application of international development interventions, such as the microcredit model, must be tailored to fit the cultural and historical context as well as account for the needs and expectations of intended recipients.

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