9425 - Gender roles in the division of labour in Maya community households in the biosphere reserve Calakmul, Yucatán

My master thesis deals with the significance of gender roles in the division of labour in Maya households involved in subsistence farming. The community investigated is situated in the biosphere reserve Calakmul (BRC) in Yucatán, México. The lives of women and men living in the ejido Pachuitz are strongly determined by the traditional socio-economic system of the Maya, which includes the cultivation of a home garden, the Milpa (a special form of slash-and-burn tillage), embroidery and bee-keeping. One important pillar in this traditional system is a kind of gendered division of labour marked by an ideal of complementarity between two sexes. The maize plant takes a central position in the society because of its importance for the economic and cultural organization of the households. Since the colonial period the Mayan agricultural system has been threatened in many different ways. Today one of the biggest threats to the livelihood of the indigenous peasants is the expansion of industrialized agriculture promoted by the Mexican government, even in a protected area as the BRC. The pressure due to emigration to the touristic centres of Yucatán represents another threat to the traditional farming system. But against this demographic trend of emigration Pachuitz is only affected by temporary migration. The members developed a set of strategies to ensure life in a rural area. Due to the recent appearance of new economic opportunities like the biological certification system for honey, migration does not constitute one of the pillars for generating monetary resources. Many households are member of an organic honey cooperative, where they can sell their honey and guarantee a secure income. And the embroidery work done by women provides them with a secure income as a result of an increasing demand from tourism. The community is in many different ways articulating itself in the modern world and tries to find adaptive and creative livelihood strategies to cope with the challenges of globalization and climate change.

Keywords: agricultura, Mexico, cultura, cambio, género

Author: Wojczewski, Silvia (none, Austria / Österreich)


University of Vienna | Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Ring 1 | 1010 Vienna | T +43 1 4277 17575