Going modern: Circular migration, state aid, and female gender ideologies in Martinique
AdvisorPhilips, Susan U.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis research project set in the ethnographic context of Martinique features two levels of analysis. At the level of cultural case study, I analyze how circular migration to France (and back) and access to the French welfare system are articulating with female gender ideologies of Martiniquan women. I argue that migration has led migrant women to develop new gender ideologies, but these do not replace their previous ones. Instead, the new ideologies become part of a repertoire and are utilized as befits the cultural context. Gender ideology transformation does not occur. I also demonstrate that a current ideology common to migrants and nonmigrants of a particular age range expresses the "voice" of French state rhetoric dating to the period of intense state-orchestrated migration. Criteria for access to French welfare are shown to be reinforcing among low-income women a "traditional" gender ideology associated with the subordination of women to men. However, I also demonstrate that low-income women are also using the aid in strategic ways to better their lives as part of a pan-Martiniquan ideology advocating creative survival methods. Because these survival strategies are not acceptable to middle class women, class positioning emerges as divisive for a common vision of the modern Martiniquan woman. At the level of language and ideology, I analyze key words that were salient in women's interview speech and that are indexical of female gender ideologies. These words are soumise (submissive), evoluee (evolved), poto mitan (central pillar), and se debrouiller (to manage on one's own). Women's predictable, patterned use of these indexical words in association with particular interpretive frameworks allows both interlocutors to know which ideology to evoke when evaluating a given "kind" of woman. I demonstrate that contradictory ideologies are able to coexist because women use them in conjunction with distinct, rarely overlapping interpretive frameworks. They also coexist because gender ideologies are applied to and by particular women according to women's positioning in society, especially based on age, class, and migration status. I suggest that the rare sites of articulated conflict present an opportunity for ideological innovation that could promote a less subordinate modern Martiniquan woman.
Degree ProgramGraduate College