Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Mary K. Anglin


This research utilizes an intersectionality framework to examine the complexity of social location and its effects on women's health. By examining connections among the state, processes of globalization, and the production of health inequalities for poor women in a rural community in southern Veracruz, Mexico, the research highlights the nexus of nationality, class, and gender. Four interconnected contexts are explored: (1) women's increasing paid and unpaid labor in the context of a poverty of resources brought on by sustained economic crisis; (2) the maintenance of reproductive labor as the responsibility of women; (3) the development of migrant "illegality" and its consequences for the well being of women who are consistently anxious about the lives of their migrant family members and the stability of remittances that sustain the household, and (4) the increasing neoliberalization of public health care that includes the heightened surveillance of women's hygienic activities and chronic underfunding of public health resources.

Using an ethnographic methodology including interviews, case studies, and participant observation, the research explores the daily lives of wives and mothers of transnational migrants as well as those women who, although they do not have migrant family members, live within the context of transnationalism because it pervades the community. In addition, all women in the research confront the inadequacy of public health services because most never have the resources to utilize private health services.

The research makes three important contributions to medical anthropology and the social sciences. First, it contributes to ongoing debates concerning the potential uses of the intersectionality framework in anthropology and related social sciences. Second, it contributes to border studies by elaborating an example of productive ways that the border can be theoretically extended to include examinations of the lives of migrant family members living far from the border. Third, it critically examines a public health insurance program that has the potential to fulfill Mexico's constitutional right to health care for all citizens and to be a model for global health care policy. By doing so, it provides a basis for future study and development of progressive health care policy in Mexico and beyond.



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