Traveling a Hard Road: Rites of Passage to Adulthood for Females of Haitian Descent Living in the Dominican Republic

Ida Salusky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the rites of passage for poor girls of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic. In the Dominican context, preparation for and the transition to wife and mother historically served as an important rite of passage to an adult identity. Industrialization and the global discourse surrounding young motherhood increasingly challenges this culturally sanctioned practice. No research has examined how perceptions around rites of passage to an adult female identity are evolving across generations within the Spanish Caribbean. The author conducted an ethnographic project that included the use of in-depth life history interviews with 42 participants. She interrogates the narratives of three generations of adolescent girls and women of Haitian descent using modified grounded theory to (a) describe current culturally acceptable pathways to becoming an adult woman and (b) examine shifts taking place across time regarding acceptable pathways to womanhood. Findings suggest that, increasingly, younger generations no longer perceive marriage and motherhood as the singular rite of passage to adulthood. Yet, additional skills and characteristics that the participants identified as important to effectively transition to an adult role are either very difficult for the poor to attain, or are acquired through the experience of marriage and motherhood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1016-1042
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • cultural practices
  • early adulthood
  • gender
  • global issues
  • Latin America
  • poverty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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