Weaving in Public Spaces: Peruvian Indigenous Women in Social Entrepreneurship Ventures

Paola Leon, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Abstract:This case study examines the personal experiences of indigenous women who participate in traditional weaving social entrepreneurship projects in the Chari community in Cusco, Peru. By using semi-structured interviews and participant observation, I explored the impact these projects have had in these women’s personal, family and community lives. While weaving is a traditional female occupation in this community, commercialization of the product is not; commercialization is traditionally left to the male relatives of the weaver. Yet, these social entrepreneurship projects have managed to merge the two – production and sales of the products are the responsibility of the weaving group. This alters the traditional division of labor and moves indigenous women’s weaving from a private to a public sphere. This shift provides the setting to examine what could constitute a major change in the way indigenous women view their roles and the influence they could have within their families and communities.

About the Presenter: 

aola León is a doctoral candidate in the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She holds a BA in social work from the University of Puerto Rico and an MSW from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her dissertation research uses qualitative methods to examine the personal experiences of Peruvian indigenous women weavers who participate in social entrepreneurship ventures and implications for women’s agency in personal, family and community contexts. Her broader interests include: women, gender and development issues, gender equity, immigrant populations in the US, and cultural competencies. E-mail: pao024@gmail.com

Presented on: 
April 20, 2011
Symposium 2011
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