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Oppression, activism, and the political participation of indigenous peoples: a case study in Yucatán, Mexico

Gugerli, Kristen (2019) Oppression, activism, and the political participation of indigenous peoples: a case study in Yucatán, Mexico. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Indigenous peoples in countries around the world are known to suffer disproportionately from a lack of political rights, socioeconomic inequality, and inadequate access to necessary resources. Such inequalities can be clearly seen in the case of Mexico, where, in many ways, colonial legacies still reign over the country’s sociopolitical structure and systemically limit the power of indigenous peoples. The deeply institutionalized nature of these power structures raises the question of what effect it has had on the political power of different ethnic groups, and if these groups interact differently with their government. This curiosity led me to conduct field research in Yucatán, Mexico, to investigate if there is any distinct difference in the political attitudes and levels of political participation between indigenous and non-indigenous people.
Through this paper, I describe how I arrived at this question and propose two conflicting hypotheses that could potentially provide a response. I initially expected that indigenous respondents would exhibit more negative political sentiment and lower levels of political participation. However, my results indicate the opposite, which led me to develop a new argument entirely. My concluding argument is that, in most cases, indigenous peoples will likely participate in politics at a lower rate and show more negative political sentiment—however, there are a few particularities in the case of Yucatán that reverse this trend of nonparticipation. These particularities are: low levels of ethnic inequality, low political saliency of ethnicity, recent increases in substantive representation, and a unique sense of pride in indigeneity. I argue that these characteristics heighten participation and improve sentiment, making Yucatán an exception to the overall trend of nonparticipation. This has profound implications for indigenous politics, particularly in other states or regions that exhibit similar characteristics. Through this paper, I discuss my research question in greater depth, and how this study has led me one step closer to identifying an answer.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Gugerli, Kristenksg30@pitt.eduksg30
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMorgenstern,
Committee MemberMarkoff,
Committee MemberGobat,
Committee MemberEiss,
Date: 17 April 2019
Defense Date: 27 March 2019
Approval Date: 26 April 2019
Submission Date: 19 April 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 112
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: oppression, Global Indigenous Movement, indigenous, activism, Mexico, Yucatan, Latin America
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2019 19:41
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2019 19:41


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