Gender and ethnic differences in the cultivation of Stenocereus stellatus in the Tehuacán Valley and La Mixteca Baja regions of central Mexico
Philpott, Carrie Elizabeth
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The Tehuacán Valley and La Mixteca Baja regions of Central Mexico have a long history of plant domestication and cultivation and remain one of the few sites in the world with a large endemic flora. Biodiversity of the numerous plants in these regions depends highly upon the indigenous groups that use the plants daily. One endemic species of this area, the columnar cactus Stenocereus stellatus, or xoconochtli, has been used extensively by the three main indigenous groups in this area: the Nahua, Popoloca, and Mixteca. Individuals of these groups manipulate the desired outcomes of fruit characteristics such as color, size, thickness of peel, and number of spines, relocating some of species with desired traits from wild populations to managed or home garden settings. Traditionally within agriculture, women have gender specific roles as the domesticators of plants and caretakers of home gardens. Due to Mexico’s extensive history of structural changes in regard to agriculture and land use patterns, practices of indigenous communities have altered some of the gendered roles of agriculture. By examining the use of S. stellatus among these groups through household interviews, this thesis studies how gender and ethnicity differences exist among the three groups in relation to S. stellatus cultivation and how current land reform policies impact gender roles. Based on the ethnic, geographic, social, and economic conditions of these three groups, I hypothesize that gender roles differ among the groups in concern to cultivation practices and the selling of xoconochtli with greater differences existing among the Popoloca group due to their smaller population.