Narrated through the oral history of one P’urhépecha woman, this talk examines P’urhépecha women’s political organizing and ways of community formation in response to transnational processes and neoliberal policies that challenged their ways of being. On April 15, 2011, in Cherán, Michoacán, a group of women elders rose against drug traffickers that had for years been illegally extracting their resources and felling their trees. After months of violent confrontations, the community was successful in driving out the cartels and were recognized by the federal government as an autonomous indigenous community. This struggle shows how shifting gender roles following mass out-migration empowered women and led them to take on new positions in Cherán and within their homes. The women at the forefront of this movement drew on their ancestral customs to organize, but they also embraced and recognized the power of their community across political borders.
Yuridia Ramírez is a Ford Foundation Fellow and Assistant Professor of history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Ramírez earned her PhD in history from Duke University with a certificate in Latin American Studies. She also holds a BA in history and journalism from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and an MA in history from Duke University. Currently, Ramírez is working on her book manuscript, tentatively titled Indigeneity on the Move: Transborder Politics from Michoacán to North Carolina, a historic and interdisciplinary analysis of a diasporic indigenous community and their transforming sense of indigeneity.