Becoming Farmers: Opening Spaces for Women's Resource Control in Calakmul, Mexico

Despite empirical findings on women's varied and often extensive participation in smallholder agriculture in Latin America, their participation continues to be largely invisible. In this article, I argue that the intransigency of farming women's invisibility reflects, in part, a discursive construction of farmers as men. Through a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods, including interviews with one hundred women in Calakmul, Mexico, I demonstrate the material implications of gendered farmer identities for women's control of resources, including land and conservation and development project resources. In particular, I relate the activities of one women's agricultural community-based organization and the members' collective adoption of transgressive identities as farmers. For these women, the process of becoming farmers resulted in increased access to and control over resources. This empirical case study illustrates the possibility of women's collective action to challenge and transform women's continued local invisibility as agricultural actors in rural Latin American spaces.