Rose-Marie Chierici, 78, died in Rochester, New York, on August 14, 2020.
Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1942, Chierici was the eldest of 12 children. Her family relocated to Washington, DC, in 1960 and she matriculated at George Washington University in 1961. She received her BS in zoology in 1965. She married Allessandro Chierici in 1963. The couple relocated to Rochester, New York, in 1968. Together, they raised four children. In 1983, she began her graduate studies in anthropology, obtaining her MA (1983) and PhD (1986) from the University of Rochester.
Chierici taught at the University of Rochester, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and finally, at the State University of New York, Geneseo, from 1994. During her 20 years as a professor at Geneseo, Chierici devoted herself to teaching anthropology, fieldwork, her students, and service to her department. She retired as chair of the Department of Anthropology in 2014 and remained emeritus professor of anthropology until her death.
She is best known for her work in rural Haiti. Beginning in 1996, Chierici created Haiti Outreach Pwoje Espwa, a community development project in Borgne, Haiti. She committed herself to improving the lives of thousands of residents in the region through health care, education, and economic development. Her efforts and leadership led to the building of a fully staffed hospital with mobile clinics to support remote residents of the vast region. A new library supports adult literacy programs as well as educational programs, and has become an important gathering place for residents. Women-focussed economic development programs have increased women’s agency and connected them to the resources needed to become entrepreneurs.
Chierici was the author of more than 16 publications, five book reviews, and more than 71 conference talks and other formal presentations.
Words cannot do justice to her life and her work. She was an extraordinary teacher and mentor to her students. She taught how development work, done well, lifts up, celebrates, and emboldens local knowledge and capacity. She will be remembered by all as a caring and loving person with a deep passion for social justice. She will be remembered by her family as a wonderful wife, mother, and grandmother with a huge heart and a sweet sense of humor.
Chierici spoke with a fierceness and honest truth that endeared her to her academic colleagues, her students, and the members of her community in Haiti. She pushed people to do their best, to do good work, to make a difference in the world. She had an extraordinary life, a clear vision of service, and has left a strong legacy. For those of us who had the privilege of knowing her and knowing her work, she will be very much missed. She was a dear friend to her colleagues, her students and the community of Borgne, Haiti.
Cite as: Kintz, Ellen. 2020. “Rose-Marie Chierici.” Anthropology News website, September 18, 2020. DOI: 10.14506/AN.1503