Through the lenses of economics, politics, sociology, gender, and cultural studies, this is a creative project that reinvents the traditional academic publication by designing a digital archive that collects oral narratives and gives voice to a marginalized population. Indigenous women in Latin America, whatever their country of origin, make up one of the most numerous groups of poor, oppressed and exploited people. This is a collection of oral narratives that exposes the daily agency of women selling and producing food and crafts. The objective of our oral history and research project was to collect and highlight stories about past and present experiences as accounted by indigenous women who are active participants –as artisans and vendors– in the Chichicastenango and Quetzaltenango (Guatemala), and Oaxaca and Puebla (Mexico) marketplaces in order to determine the different ways in which women from different indigenous communities and ethnicities (Mayans in Guatemala and Zapotecs and Mixtecs in Mexico) have negotiated, sustained, and managed to develop and accomplish their own business undertakings. We consider that, both food and handicrafts, are cultural practices that reaffirm identity and, at the same time, are inserted in the global economy in which indigenous women are perceived as the embodiment of the authenticity of popular wisdom, traditions and the customs of a country or a region. Despite this precarious position they occupy within the economic and political fabric, they play an essential role as guardians and producers of culture, language and knowledge.

Project Link: https://academics.skidmore.edu/blogs/indigenous-markets/

Student Contributors:

From Lafayette, IN, Carolyn is a current junior at Hope College studying Peace and Justice Studies and Spanish. She is part of the Mellon Scholars, a program focused on the digital humanities in which research and collaboration between professors and students in the arts and humanities is promoted. Her research interests include Latin American studies and studies of women, human rights and foreign policy, and conflict resolution on a global scale.

Kelly Fuhs is a Junior at Hope College majoring in International Studies and Spanish with a minor in Peace and Justice studies. This past summer she collaborated with Dr.Andre and Carolyn Wetzel on their oral history project after interviewing indigenous women in the marketplaces of Mexico. Kelly is passionate about social justice issues, leadership, communication, and art.