Wanna buy a basket?: Kekchi Maya women and cash economy in San Miguel, Belize

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Stepanek, Patricia A.

Global economy has had a tremendous effect on subsistence societies. A need for cash seems to touch people even in remote places. San Miguel is a poverty-stricken Kekchi Maya village in the Toledo District of southern Belize. The Kekchi Maya women of this village sell handcrafted items to supplement their household income. The cash income gained from craft sales may be improving the economic situation of many San Miguel households; however, not all households are showing economic improvement. The degree to which a woman can participate in selling handicrafts is dependent on her duties as a traditional wife and mother. These constraints might be one factor influencing economic success. Envy between those who have or have not is most likely a problem in the small village, and perceptions of an Image of Limited Good may enshroud the villagers. The problem under investigation pertains to the effect of craft sales on the household economy, when the constraints that control a traditional San Miguel Kekchi Maya woman are taken into consideration. Envy and a variety of constraints factor in, possibly perpetuate an Image of Limited Good, which probably influence the Kekchi women’s economic success from handicraft sales.

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A project submitted to the Department of Anthropology of Wichita State University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts