Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Susan Roberts

Second Advisor

Dr. Tad Mutersbaugh


This dissertation project analyzes the ways that migration and remittances, the money that migrants send to people in their place of origin, intersect with the political and social dynamics in an Indigenous community in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region of Oaxaca, Mexico. Drawing on 16 months of ethnographic fieldwork, which included semi-structured interviews and participant observation alongside historical archival investigation, this dissertation examines the following questions: What international organizations, national government, and private sector policies govern remittances? How does Indigenous collective work and communal governance shape remittance management? How do the responsibilities of family members shift with migration and how do remittances factor into the responsibilities that women have in migrant sending communities? In answering these questions, I approach remittances as a lens for analyzing global migration and related flows of capital in everyday life and examine how labor migration and remittances intertwine with the collective work and communal governance that shape Indigenous life in Oaxaca. Through the examination of these practices, I found that the territory of the community expands and gendered norms shift. The three empirical chapters examine essentializing claims in remittance policy literature alongside the reality of how women manage remittances, how labor done elsewhere is extracted in remittance form and used to support social reproduction in the community, and the colonial foundations of my fieldwork. My feminist theoretical contribution argues against labeling women as disempowered and passive receivers of remittances while questioning the neat distinctions between productive and reproductive labor, thereby calling for a more thorough understanding of the diversity of economic lives. In this dissertation, I incorporate and make contributions to feminist economic geography, feminist theories of social reproduction, critical development and finance studies, interdisciplinary Latin American feminist work on the economy and gender, and post/de-colonial theories.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This study was supported by a National Science Foundation Geography and Spatial Sciences Program Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Award (#1833226) in 2018; a Society of Woman Geographers Evelyn L. Pruitt National Fellowship for Dissertation Research in 2018; a Scholar Award given by the International Chapter of the Philanthropic Educational Organization in 2019; two University of Kentucky Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies Travel Grants for Research in 2016 and 2020; the Economic Geography Specialty Group of the American Association Geographers in 2018; and the Conference of Latin American Geographers in 2017.

Available for download on Thursday, January 04, 2024