Accepted Paper:

Immobilizing women in rural Mexico  


Diana Mata Codesal (Pompeu Fabra University)

Paper Short Abstract:

In Zacualpan borders become meaningful differently for men and women. It invisibilizes mobilities more often followed by women. Perceived immobility is linked to social desirability, which stems from an ideology that represents women as rooted and passive waiting penelopes in their relatives’ migration.

Paper long abstract:

Mobility and immobility are not self-evident realities. While we're constantly moving, not all our movements are socially significant (Cresswell 2011). In the Mexican village of Zacualpan mobility and immobility are socially constructed and imbued with different meanings according to gender. Borders become meaningful – therefore constructing movement as migration or not – differently for men and women. While moving to a different Mexican state for labour reasons is considered as migration, moving for family purposes - and particularly for women to get married – is not. This differentiated process of meaning assignation invisibilizes mobilities more often followed by women and reinforces the gender-bias created by methodological nationalism - in Mexico, as in many other locations worldwide, women are more mobile internally, while men outnumber in international migration.

In Zacualpan who is perceived as immobile is also linked to whose mobility is socially considered abnormal. The desirability of (im)mobility stems from a patriarchal ideology which represent women as rooted, in charge of maintaining traditional domestic continuity in an unstable and changing environment caused by global movements that embody a quality of masculinity (Freeman 2001). Because of the association between women and roots the relationship between being a woman and not migrating is naturalized and female immobilities are constructed as ‘natural’. Although the role of women who stay put is often crucial in their relatives’ transnational migration, they continue to be represented as waiting penelopes without agency. Ethnographic data from Zacualpan suggest that analyzing (im)mobility articulations is a possible way forward to overcome such drawback.

Panel P132
The winding roads: infrastructures and technologies of (im)mobility