Original Paper

Population and Environment

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 177-197

First online:

Environment, transnational labor migration, and gender: case studies from southern Yucatán, Mexico and Vermont, USA

  • Claudia RadelAffiliated withEcology Center & Department of Environment and Society, Utah State University Email author 
  • , Birgit SchmookAffiliated withEl Colegio de la Frontera Sur
  • , Susannah McCandlessAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, 200 Old Mill, University of Vermont

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Gender shapes the migration–environment association in both origin and destination communities. Using quantitative and qualitative data, we juxtapose these gender dimensions for a labor migrant-sending location of Mexico’s southern Yucatán with those for a labor migrant-receiving location in Vermont (USA). We illustrate how in the southern Yucatán, circular transnational migration alters pasture, maize and chili production in a peasant field–forest system. Gender norms condition the land-use decisions of migratory households to keep women out of agricultural fields, but in turn may be modified in unexpected ways. With men’s migration, more women assume aspects of land management, including in decision-making and supervision of hired farm labor. In comparison, in Vermont a largely male migrant labor force helps maintain an idealized, pastoral landscape with gender deeply embedded in how that labor is constructed and managed.


Migration Agriculture Landscape Gender Vermont Southern Yucatán Environment