A house of one's own: Gender, migration, and residence in rural Mexico



Gender dynamics in Mexican migrant communities have been conceptualized mainly in terms of transformations in conjugal relations. Other meaningful relations, especially conflict-laden female in-law relations, have not been discussed widely in the context of transnational communities. I show how this wider perspective on gender relations is essential for unraveling the social processes behind the boom in house construction that many rural regions in Mexico are experiencing. A growing number of women reduce the length of their often very traumatic residence in their mothers-in-law's houses or try to avoid it altogether by creatively appropriating new spaces—building houses—using migradólares, remittances from their husbands who work in the United States. The newly built houses both constitute and express changing gender and kin relations. In the long run, these changes are likely to erode the social security of members of the elderly population. [migration, gender, kinship, postmarital residence, domestic space, social security, Mexico]