Dissertation Abstracts

Waiting To Be Landowners: Mothers, Wives and Sisters in the Absence of Men on Rural Indigenous Oaxaca Areas (Mexico)

Author: Martinez-Iglesias, Maria , maria.martinezi@urv.cat
Department: Sociology Area/ Bussines Administration Departament
University: Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Spain
Supervisor: Amado Alarcon Alarcon
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: Spanish/English

Keywords: women left behind , land inheritance , transnational extend , Oaxaca
Areas of Research: Agriculture and Food , Migration , Women in Society


The purpose of this thesis is to understand how men’s international outmigration affects traditional gender family dynamics in two indigenous areas of Oaxaca (Mexico) with a specific focus on changes in inheritance patterns and women’s access to landownership, a main topic on international agenda. Unlike urban industrialized countries, where parents are expected to be autonomous during mid-later-life, traditional patterns of living arrangements in indigenous communities are based on a strong continuity of parent-child economic alliances and family care giving for the elderly. The literature on migration and development implicitly assumes that marriage and fatherhood are the most important alliances or the only ones adult men and women hold.

The dissertation's first argument is that in the areas that were studied, women left behind are not equivalent to wives left behind. Gender analysis must be extended beyond the conjugal dynamic to understand several micro processes at the family level which reproduce and change gender norms including wives' diminished bargaining power even their greater contribution to marriage or changes in inheritance patterns and daughters’ access to land tenure, a key resource for rural subsistence and for women’s empowerment. The dissertation's second main argument states that male international outmigration must be linked with other social transformations in the sending society such us land value, how migration links with the local labor market, how community membership is redefined, how the community accepts a new sexual division of labor, and how families and communities interact with the State.