A Jumble of Needs: Women's Activism and Neoliberalism in the Colonias of the Southwest
Many immigrant communities along the U.S. border with Mexico are colonias, border settlements lacking infrastructure or safe housing. A Jumble of Needs examines the leadership of Mexican women immigrants in three colonias in New Mexico, documenting the role of NGOs in shaping women’s activism in these communities. Ethnographer Rebecca Dolhinow, who worked in the colonias, uncovers why such attempts to exercise political agency are so rarely successful.Central to the relationship between NGOs and women activists in colonias, Dolhinow argues, is the looming presence of the neoliberal political project. In particular, the discourses of caretaking that NGOs use to recruit women into leadership positions simultaneously naturalize and depoliticize the activist work that these women do in their communities. Dolhinow discovers the connections between colonias as isolated communities and colonia leaders as political subjects who unintentionally reinforce neoliberal policy. In the long run, she finds, any politicization that might take place is limited to the women leaders and seldom involves the community as a whole.Surprisingly, Dolhinow reveals, many NGOs promote neoliberal ideals, resulting in continued disenfranchisement, despite the women’s activism to better their lives, families, and communities.
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affordable housing Alicia basic border patrol Bracero program caretakers chile civil society COG organizers COG’s colo colonia activists colonia communities colonia developers colonia leaders colonia lots colonia residents community organizing create Cruces cultural daily practices described discourses discussion Doņa Ana County Elena empowerment Ernie Esperanza Estella ethnography experience Flora focus focuses gender relations gender roles gender systems global south goal governmentality households husband important individual infrastructure Interview involved Juana lack Las Cruces live maquiladoras marginalized Marie Mario meeting ment Mexican immigrants Mexico Montes mother move munities neoliberal governance neoliberal political project NGOs nias numbers ofthe colonias one’s politicization processes production of colonias progressive social change Recuerdos relationships resource deprivation responsibility ristras Rosa scale self-help self-reliance situation social reproduction space state’s tion trailer transnational U.S. Census Bureau undocumented United Valle de Vacas women leaders women’s activism women’s leadership workers