Araby Smyth 2017 Field Report

2017 CLAG Field Study Award Report:

Araby Smyth, PhD student, University of Kentucky.

Project: Gender and Remittances: Lived experiences of women in Oaxaca, Mexico.

My research explores the point of negotiation where women’s agency and remittance governance intersect in Oaxaca, Mexico. I draw on analyses of remittances in development, transnational families research, and feminist geography to answer two overarching questions: How is remittance governance formulated and negotiated in migrant sending communities? How do negotiations and struggles over remittances shape the lived experiences of women in migrant sending communities?

The Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers (CLAG) supported preliminary research that helped me to establish field sites for my doctoral dissertation research. Building on recurrent trips to Oaxaca since 2015, I traveled to Mexico City, Oaxaca City, Puebla City, and three rural towns from June 9-August 19, 2017.

I visited three potential field sites in Oaxaca and Puebla. Using ethnographic methods like participant observation and interviews, I learned more about the town where I will likely be doing fieldwork in 2018[1]. I observed human interactions at town meetings, festivals, and other public spaces like basketball courts and health clinics. In these spaces, I spoke with town authorities and women receiving remittances.

Six months ago, I proposed comparative research between two towns, one in Oaxaca and one in Puebla. After this summer, I believe that my research is better suited for a single site. Remittances and how they change family relations is a sensitive matter. Through my discussions with scholars as well as preliminary interviews with women receiving remittances and town authorities, I learned more about the intricacies about how money is received, spent, and what kinds of decision-making processes are behind these actions.

Please see the full report here.

[1] I am not releasing the name of the town because my research is still in the preliminary stage. I may not use the real name of the town in order to protect the identity of research participants.

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