The contributors to this issue examine variousinterconnections among gender, class, ethnicity, region,and nation through a focus upon Yucatecan women. Somecommon themes that link the papers relate to rural social and economic transformation,migration, and the redefinition of indigenous ethnicity.We are given glimpses of the emergence of new andpreviously unthinkable configurations of class andethnicity in Yucatan, a process that has taken placethroughout Latin America in recent decades. A number ofpapers describe situations of partial proletarianizationin which men migrate from rural areas to cities, while women remain in the countryside. Theauthors stress the often-overlooked contributions madeby indigenous women to household economy, and also tendto stress continuity, complementarity, and the mediating or brokerage position of women. Contradictionswithin the household and between rural and urban areasshould also be considered. The assertion that Mayawomen's role in social transformations is primarily that of guardians and defenders of tradition isproblematic. “Tradition” and“modernity” are not fixed categories, norare they qualities of people or collectivities, but waysof talking about the relationship between the present andthe past, about social and spatial distance from centersof polity and economy. Staking a claim to being theguardians of tradition or of an ethnic essence may be a wayof defining a social position inthe present, in the context of contemporaryrelationships within the community. This collectionprovides compelling evidence of the reinvention ofethnicity in contemporary Yucatan, but our assumptionsabout ethnicity and tradition should be approached withthe same critical attitude these authors bring to thestudy of gender.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 6, 2004
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