A Jumble of Needs

A Jumble of Needs: Women’s Activism and Neoliberalism in the Colonias of the Southwest

Rebecca Dolhinow
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttvc07
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  • Book Info
    A Jumble of Needs
    Book Description:

    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 uncovers why such attempts to exercise political agency are so rarely successful, revealing that many NGOs promote neoliberal ideals, resulting in continued disenfranchisement, despite the women’s activism.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7340-7
    Subjects: Geography

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-44)

    “I hope you’ll describe how the chile feels when it starts to rot!” Estella was clearly excited about the prospect that I might write about our experiences together over the last year, and she had very specific ideas about what I should document. Estella usually had strong ideas about everything; this was something I learned about her very quickly. Estella was not a particularly large woman. She was a little below average height and a bit stocky, but her personality made her seem larger than life and gave her a very commanding presence. For Estella, the daily lived practices, the...

  6. I. Neoliberalism on the Border
    • CHAPTER 1 The Production of Colonias as Neoliberal Spaces
      (pp. 47-90)

      It would be wrong to assume that neither state officials nor colonia residents view the existence of colonias as an offense to resident’s basic rights as citizens. Rather, in many situations, the resource deprivation experienced in the colonias as an issue of basic rights is just not discussed. Yet, according to Orlando Cervantes, Chairman of the Doña Ana County Planning and Zoning Commission, “We have complete communities here without water, sewer or roads for access by emergency service. The government has failed in this case to meet its obligations to protect the people” (Nelson 1995). For Chairman Cervantes to believe...

    • CHAPTER 2 The Production of Women as Neoliberal Leaders
      (pp. 91-138)

      Dile pinche chile.” I knew I was almost as red as the chile I was desperately trying to manipulate into a ristra when Estella made this off-color comment. At this point I had been working in the colonias for almost nine months, and I had a pretty close relationship with Estella. (Or should I say she had one with me?) Estella is a commanding woman and can be a very intimidating presence. When it came to ristra making, she was the queen.

      The group of us—Estella, her mother, myself, two or three of her cousins, and at least five...

  7. II. Women and NGOs
    • CHAPTER 3 Empowerment and Politicization in the Colonias
      (pp. 141-178)

      While we were walking in the midday sun, Ernie and I were doing some door-to-door visits in the colonia when we decided to see if the new woman was in. We had heard independently that there was a new young mother living in a trailer on the back of a lot in Los Montes and we thought she might like to take part in some community activities. Cold calls like this can be difficult, especially when we knew the woman in question was living in pretty rough conditions, so most likely her life was very busy. Concha was living on...

    • CHAPTER 4 The Place of NGOs in Daily Life
      (pp. 179-202)

      Their voices carried clear across the parking lot and nearly out onto the interstate, which ran close by the new community center in which the crowd, mostly women, was sitting. They were enthusiastically practicing the proper response to questioning byLa Migra. This was just one small aspect of an all-day immigration-rights workshop. If one were to walk past the building and did not know what was going on inside, one might think there was a mass arrest taking place.

      It was late fall, and more than twenty women and two men had turned out to the first in a...

  8. Epilogue
    (pp. 203-210)

    On a hot summer evening, we walked along the edge of a cotton field and then down another hard-packed dirt road that skirted the back side of someone’s lot. As I got that familiar feeling of almost trespassing that one has nearly all the time in a colonia where many lots simply bleed into each other and the street, Flora explained that there was a very old señor living back here in a tiny trailer under a tree. Well, his mattress was under the tree, there was not enough room in the one-room travel trailer, the kind usually pulled by...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 211-218)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 219-228)
  11. Index
    (pp. 229-238)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 239-239)