Religion, Art, and Politics in Chiapas: Tools of Resistance for the Indigenous Woman in Southern Mexico

Mary DeLuca, Michigan State University

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Abstract: Indigenous women of Chiapas have suffered for generations, but now a select group of women is pushing against cultural norms to make a better life for others. Recently, there has been a religious shift due to an influx of evangelism and conversation. Since alcoholism is a vice for many indigenous men evangelical preachers have begun promoting a “clean community” approach, which encourages women to convert in order to protect themselves and their families from domestic violence. In addition to religious conversion, a second form of social resistance has developed using art and performance as educational tools. A theater group, led by Petrona de la Cruz, travels and performs plays related to indigenous women’s rights. The group also offers workshops to indigenous women and children at their center in San Cristobal de las Casas. This is one of the first groups of its kind in Chiapas and it is revolutionary. Performance and art as social resistance are increasingly popular ways to effect change for women in Southern Mexico. A third form of resistance is the political participation by women in southern Mexico. Not only do women have the right to effect change by voting, but also by holding elected office outside their community. This paper will look at the increased political activity by indigenous women in Chiapas and how this contributes to a culture of resistance to traditional machismo.

About the Presenter: 

Mary DeLuca is a senior at Michigan State University, majoring in Professional Writing with a minor in Spanish and a specialization in Caribbean and Latin American Studies. She studied art and cultural practice as methods of cultural resistance in Oaxaca, México during summer 2008. Her experiences in México lead to her interest and continued research on the role of indigenous Mexicans in modern texts and films. E-mail:

Presented on: 
April 20, 2011
Symposium 2011
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