Unintended Developments: Gender, Environment, and Collective Governance in a Mexican Ejido

Heidi E. Hausermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This article examines the unintended outcomes of a neoliberal program designed to privatize Mexico's communal lands. Although postrevolutionary agrarian law excluded women from official landholding and leadership positions, steps toward land privatization inadvertently increased women's access to land, government resources, and political power. Using ethnographic and survey data collected in a Veracruz ejido, I demonstrate how Mexico's agrarian counterreforms triggered novel subjectivities and practices. While men acted as self-imagined private property owners and decreased participation in traditional governance institutions, women became registered land managers and leaders for the first time in the ejido's history. These interlocking processes stopped the land-titling program in its tracks and reinvigorated collective governance. Even state actors charged with carrying out ejido privatization were implicated in the empowerment of rural women and failure to fully privatize land. This research contributes to nature-society debates by arguing neoliberalism does not always end economic self-determination and communal governance in agrarian contexts. Rather, I demonstrate the ways in which processual policy, subjectivity, authority formation, objects, and environmental narratives combine to produce new political trajectories with positive implications for rural women and the environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)784-800
Number of pages17
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


  • Mexico
  • environment
  • gender
  • governance
  • neoliberalism


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