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January 23, 2012 / Charlie McNabb

Negotiations of Power in Mexican and Mexican American Women’s Narratives

My Master’s thesis was completed and published in June 2011.  The interview recordings and transcripts, fieldwork notes and photographs, and thesis are housed in the McNabb Archives.

Link to thesis: Negotiations of Power in Mexican and Mexican American Women’s Narratives


This thesis examines casual storytelling among Mexican and Mexican American women in Oaxaca, Mexico and Eugene, Oregon. I focus on narratives involving powerful female protagonists and explore the ways in which storytelling can represent a negotiation of power in informants’ lives. Taking a feminist and performance-centered approach, I analyze informants’ perceptions of power and gender dynamics in their own lives and the lives of the iconic characters discussed. Analysis is based upon participant-observation, in-depth interviews, casual conversations, popular culture artifacts, and library and archival research. My research indicates that prose narratives are popular and discussed frequently among the communities I interacted with. Female icons function to shape virtuous feminine behavior and chastise immoral behaviors. Women form and articulate multiple identities and communicate about power and gender dynamics through discussion of these protagonists.


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