Degree Year

2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

History

Advisor(s)

Danielle Terrazas Williams

Keywords

Michoacan, Bracero Program, Purepechan women, Transnational families, Womens labor, Catholicism, La purisima, Transnational migration, Labor migration, Cardenismo, Bracero families, Gender roles

Abstract

Between 1942 and 1964, the U.S. and Mexico made a series of labor agreements collectively referred to as the Bracero Program. The Mexican men, Braceros, contracted through this program worked temporarily in agriculture and industry across the U.S. This paper examines the lives of ten women in the Mexican state of Michoacan whose male family members worked as Braceros. The mens' absences disrupted the family in an economic sense, requiring women to take on labor that was non-traditional for women at the time, as well as in a social sense, as the stability and respectability of their household came into doubt in the eyes of their village. Women recognized that the social consequences that could come from this disruption of the patriarchal family structure posed a real threat to their family's economic survival. Thus, while they transgressed certain patriarchal boundaries by taking on new and nontraditional types of work, they also performed the ideological labor of justifying their situation. The women narrated the Braceros' absences and mitigated against ensuing social consequences by employing Catholic gender ideologies that had developed in the region. In other words, as a method of survival, women met the Bracero Program's disruption of the rural peasant family structure with the reinscription of traditional gender values.

Included in

History Commons

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