We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE
OR
title

Shaping the Motherhood of Indigenous Mexico

Vania Smith-Oka

Publication Year: 2013

Mainstream Mexican views of indigenous women center on them as problematic mothers, and development programs have included the goal of helping these women become "good mothers." Economic incentives and conditional cash transfers are the vehicles for achieving this goal. With ethnographic immediacy, Shaping the Motherhood of Indigenous Mexico examines the dynamics among the various players--indigenous mothers, clinicians, and representatives of development programs. The women's voices lead the reader to understand the structures of dependency that paradoxically bind indigenous women within a program that calls for their empowerment.

The cash transfer program is Oportunidades, which enrolls more than a fifth of Mexico's population. It expects mothers to become involved in their children's lives at three nodes--health, nutrition, and education. If women do not comply with the standards of modern motherhood, they are dropped from the program and lose the bi-monthly cash payments. Smith-Oka explores the everyday implementation of the program and its unintended consequences.

The mothers are often berated by clinicians for having too many children (Smith-Oka provides background on the history of eugenics and population control in Mexico) and for other examples of their "backward" ways. An entire chapter focuses on the humor indigenous women use to cope with disrespectful comments. Ironically, this form of resistance allows the women to accept the situation that controls their behavior.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press

Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF (546.1 KB)
pp. 1-3

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF (423.1 KB)
pp. 4-7

Table of Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF (415.6 KB)
pp. vii-viii

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF (442.1 KB)
pp. ix-xii

Acronyms and Agencies

pdf iconDownload PDF (415.6 KB)
pp. xiii-xiv

A Word on Nahuatl Pronunciation

pdf iconDownload PDF (431.7 KB)
pp. xv-xvi

read more

Introduction: Burst Uterus and Spoiled Milk

pdf iconDownload PDF (624.3 KB)
pp. 1-26

The pickup truck bounced along the rutted road. Tito was giggling in the backseat, enchanted by the constant honking of the passing trucks loaded down by their enormous cargos of oranges bound for the cities. His grandmother Esperanza sat composedly on the seat beside him, looking out at the rapidly passing scenery outside her open window...

read more

1. "Somos Mexicanos": Giving Birth to the Nation

pdf iconDownload PDF (604.3 KB)
pp. 27-61

The nineteenth century was a time of tremendous upheaval for Mexico: it lost almost half its territory to the US in 1848; segregation of the old classes and castes was officially abolished, and vestiges of the colonial period were destroyed; communal landholdings (belonging to both the Church and the indigenous people) were forced to privatize under the...

read more

2. From Eugenics to Parteras: Changing Conceptions of Maternity

pdf iconDownload PDF (577.2 KB)
pp. 62-97

Oportunidades was conceived to create modern mothers. Using this cash transfer program as a lens, we can analyze the ways that institutional forces impose a certain type of body politic on their subjects—particularly concerning reproduction. Linking the idea of disobedience with the broader perceptions of the women’s reproduction can help to show...

read more

3. Conflicted Relationships at Home and at the Clinic

pdf iconDownload PDF (579.3 KB)
pp. 98-124

A poster hangs prominently in the clinic at Tepatepec. A picture of a happy extended indigenous family—mother, father (carrying their one daughter), and grandparents—reads “¡Que no te discriminen! Tienes derecho a que te traten con respeto. Si alguien te trata mal, o te condiciona la prestación de un servicio, repórtalo a Oportunidades” (No one should discriminate against...

read more

4. Expectations of Good Motherhood

pdf iconDownload PDF (625.7 KB)
pp. 125-154

“Motherhood is the most highly judged state of your life.” This was said to me by one of my friends in the United States during the early days of my pregnancy, a few years after I returned from Amatlán. In this state, my friend—who is the mother of three children, two of whom are twins—said, people will judge you and correct you and punish...

read more

5. Laughter and the "Best" Medicine

pdf iconDownload PDF (599.1 KB)
pp. 155-182

One day in early 2004, the village women were asked to attend an important gathering at the Casa de Salud. The physician and nurse from the Tepatepec clinic were to come up to give check-ups, and the women were expected to attend. When Esperanza and I arrived, there were only...

read more

Conclusion: "I nurture them because I love them"

pdf iconDownload PDF (472.7 KB)
pp. 183-190

A few years after returning from Amatlán, while I was going through my field notes in preparing my book manuscript, I came across these words from Cristina. We had spent much of that day talking about her motherhood, her children, and Oportunidades. One of the questions...

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF (477.0 KB)
pp. 191-202

References

pdf iconDownload PDF (497.5 KB)
pp. 203-228

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF (476.6 KB)
pp. 229-239


E-ISBN-13: 9780826519191
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826519177
Print-ISBN-10: 0826519172

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas

Recommend

UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Indian women -- Mexico -- Amatlán (Morelos) -- History.
  • Indian mothers -- Mexico -- Amatlán (Morelos) -- Social conditions.
  • Indian mothers -- Mexico -- Amatlán (Morelos) -- Economic conditions.
  • Indian mothers -- Health and hygiene -- Mexico -- Amatlán (Morelos).
  • Amatlán (Morelos, Mexico) -- Social conditions.
  • Amatlán (Morelos, Mexico) -- Economic conditions.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access