First Advisor

Charles Klein

Date of Publication

Spring 6-19-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Anthropology






Rural women -- Mexico -- Oaxaca (State) -- Social conditions, Women -- Education (Higher), Women -- Identity, Group identity, Rural education -- Mexico, Mexico -- Rural conditions



Physical Description

1 online resource (ix, 149 pages)


The emergence of higher education opportunities in rural areas of Mexico such as throughout the state of Oaxaca has opened new opportunities for young women's professional development and new individual and community identities. I explore tensions between the collective imaginary of rural Mexico and rural women's emerging sense of independence and self-determination in light of higher education's expanding opportunities. Educational opportunities lead to community formation around commonality of experience in addition to ascribed community relationships and roles. I situate this analysis within the context of the Universidad Tecnológica de los Valles Centrales de Oaxaca (UT), a small university in San Pablo Huixtepec, Oaxaca, Mexico. Through interviews and participant observation, I answer the following questions: (1) How is rural women's identity produced through policy, geography, and social influences? (2) In what ways do college women experience change in terms of family relationships and professional trajectories? and (3) How do changes in rural women's collective identity through professional development contribute to social movements for gender equality? This thesis provides a broader examination of the implications of shifts in family trajectory for belonging and women's identity in Mexico, contributing to larger discussions regarding higher education in rural areas, women's experiences and interactions within institutions, and women's collectives as venues for societal transformation. In conclusion, I offer recommendations for educational policy that supports women's identity development, promotes gender equality, and encourages women's leadership.


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