Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Anthropology

Content Description

1 online resource (xv, 279 pages) : color illustrations, color maps.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Jennifer L. Burrell

Committee Members

Elise Andaya, Walter E. Little


human rights, indigenous peoples, mexico, midwives, NGO, reproductive health, Midwives, Mayas, Midwifery, Medical anthropology, Women's rights

Subject Categories

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Latin American Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology


This doctoral research stems from thirteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in the Mexican State of Chiapas. Chiapas is one of the regions with the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. To comply with international development goals to lower maternal mortality rates, indigenous midwives are trained in detecting risk factors in pregnancy and birth, while women are encouraged to give birth in hospitals. This dissertation sheds light on the impact of such policies on poor women's access to reproductive health care and Mayan midwives' practices. Over the course of my research, I utilized the methodology of participant-observation and conducted in-depth interviews with traditional Mayan midwives and professional midwives within and outside the public health system, mothers living in urban and rural areas, workers from the public health sector, and Non Governmental Organizations activists working in the field of reproductive health. In particular, this dissertation stems from my collaboration with the Organization of Indigenous Doctors of Chiapas (OMIECH), in San Cristóbal de las Casas.