Indigenous pronatalism in Latin America


Dr. Kendra McSweeney, Department of Geography
Rank at time of award: Assistant Professor


How widespread is the surprisingly rapid growth reported for multiple indigenous populations in lowland Latin America? To what degree are their unusually high fertility rates influenced by ethno­ politically motivated pronatalism? Can recent census data shed light on these issues? The proposed research will address these questions by scrutinizing the 2001 censuses of Honduras, Venezuela and Ecuador.
Specific objectives of the research include:
1) deriving basic but reliable indicators of demographic change for the 50+ lowland native populations represented;
2) comparing those rates to non-indigenous populations at multiple scales; and
3) exploring the relationships between ethnic­ group size (a measure of historic population loss), territorial threats, and fertility and growth patterns.
The six month research period (SP05-SU05) is expected to: offer a broad-brush complement to the PI's ongoing ethnographic analysis of individual indigenous demographies in Honduras and Ecuador; contribute to the meta-analysis of indigenous demographic trends to be presented at the IUSSP in July 05; and to improve and catalyze two research grant proposals planned for 2005 and 2006.


Publications resulting from this seed grant

2015. McSweeney, K., and B. Jokisch. "Native Amazonians’ strategic urbanization: shaping territorial possibilities through cities." Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology (Special issue on ‘Indigenous Urbanization’; D. Peluso, guest ed.) 20(1): DOI: 10.1111/jlca.12067. 

2011. Jokisch, B., and K. McSweeney. Assessing the potential of indigenous-run demographic/health surveys: the 2005 Shuar Survey, Ecuador. Human Ecology 39(5): 683-698.

2011. McSweeney, K., and O. Coomes. Climate-related disaster opens ‘window of opportunity’ for the rural poor: adaptation and resilience after Hurricane Mitch in eastern Honduras. PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108(13): 5203-5208.

2008. De Sherbinin, A., L.VanWey, K. McSweeney, R. Aggarwal, A. Barbieri, S. Henry, L. Hunter, W. Twine, and R. Walker. Rural household micro-demographics, livelihoods, and the environment. Global Environmental Change 18(1):38-51. PMCID: PMC2351958 

2006. McSweeney, K. Distinguishing the indigenous from the rural poor: Reply to Engelman et al. Conservation Biology 20(4):1318-1320.

Chapters in Edited Volumes

McSweeney, K. Forthcoming in 2018. Portrait, landscape, mirror: Reflections on return fieldwork. Chapter in Giving Back: Research and Reciprocity in Indigenous Contexts, edited by RDK Herman. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press (revised and updated version of 2008 chapter).
McSweeney, K., and Z. Pearson. 2013. Vaccines, fertility, and power: the political ecology of indigenous health and well-being in lowland Latin America. Pp. 139-158 in B. King and K. Crews, eds., Ecologies and Politics of Health. London and New York: Routledge.