Maya Women, Gender Dynamics, and Modes of Production1

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Abstract

This paper provides a perspective on the connection between the roles performed by Yucatec Maya women and global economic trends, particularly those focused on the increase of migration and incorporation of women into wage-labor employment. The analysis is founded on the gender dynamics in the Maya Yucatec society. The fieldwork sites for this study were the Maya village of Chan Kom and the developing resort area of Cancun. The discussion centers socioeconomic and ideological implications of the responses of Maya women to the increasingly complex expansion of global capitalism and its accelerating volatility. Maya women, associated with the domestic and private realm, are also believed to serve as guardians of tradition. Maya women who migrate, leaving their villages, face a social and economic challenge. The discussion frame of this studyleads to a revision of the anthropological agendas traditionally presented in Chan Kom's ethnographic record. Assumptions about power and authority have misrepresented women as part of the labor force in the Maya productive system. The tension between peasant and migrant Maya roles and world-wide economic trends is forging a negotiated space for Yucatec Maya women.

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