Lynn Stephen

Dr. Lynn Stephen is Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences, Professor of Anthropology, and Director of the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (CLLAS) at the University of Oregon. Stephen is a cultural anthropologist whose interdisciplinary research has been at the forefront of illuminating major challenges facing Mesoamerican indigenous peoples–out-migration, tourism, state assimilation programs and nationalism, economic development, violence and low-intensity war—and of analyzing the spectrum of local and global responses they have developed to these issues, including social movements, unique educational and knowledge systems, innovative forms of media and governance and rights claiming. Gender and its intersection with race, class, ethnicity, and nationalism has been the primary lens for much of this work. Her research over three decades has anticipated the ways that globalization is creating new forms of transborder social and political organization. Her theoretical concept of transborder communities has been widely adopted by scholars of migration in many fields, as has her research on gender in indigenous populations. Stephen has also brought her research to a broad audience through innovative public education and multi-media projects. She has authored or edited 11 books, three special journal issues and has published more than 80 scholarly articles and two films.

ACADEMIC ARTICLE: The Rights to Speak and to be Heard: Women’s Interpretations of Rights Discourses in the Oaxaca Social Movement

the rights to speak and be hardThis chapter highlights the process by which several hundred women in Oaxaca City, Mexico, from different types of backgrounds took over state and then commercial media for a period of several months and in the process came to a gendered analysis of human rights. Their thinking centered on what they called the rights “to speak,” “to be heard,” and “to decide who governs.” Through an event-centered analysis I will argue that the appropriation of human rights discourses became gendered through the process of the media takeover. Through their experience running state television and radio stations and subsequently commercial stations, women who held the stations produced a gendered local vernacular of rights talk that then became accessible to many other women and men in the city. Women who were previously silenced and characterize themselves as “short, fat, and brown and the face of Oaxaca” allowed new voices to be heard, new faces to be seen, and permitted silenced models of governance and democratic participation to move into the cultural and political mainstream.

JOURNALISTIC ARTICLE: Género, Etnicidad y Migración: Lecciones de los Mixtecos y Zapotecos

genero, ethnicidad y migracion copy


This chapter explores how Zapotec and Mixtec patterns of migration in the western United States are gendered. A significant emphasis in this chapter is on how the experience of migration and the kind of work schedule that is demanded of low-wage migrants often rearranges gender relations in Oaxaca and in the United States alike. What happens when male farmworkers cook, sew, and clean for one another in labor camps? How do men and women work full-time in the United States, often at one or more minimum wage jobs on opposite shifts, and share childcare and domestic chores? Trans-border mothering is explored in terms of its consequences for women in Mexico and in the United States.

En Poder, Políticas e Inmigración en America Latina, Débora Betrisey Nadali (ed.), pp. 151-175. Barcelona: Ediciones Bellaterra. 2014.


The domestic violence experienced by Mexican immigrant women needs to be understood within a larger context of structural violence, which includes criminal and state violence aggravated by their unprotected status in the United States as “immigrant aliens.” Transborder violence refers to forms of violence that cross multiple national, regional, class, ethnic, and state boundaries. This article uses one case of what lawyers call gender-based asylum to demonstrate how structures of transborder violence entrap women. This case represents the kinds of cases I have worked with as an expert witness. What anthropologists learn as expert witnesses provides important information about broader patterns of gendered violence that need to be documented and analyzed. This article is framed by an understanding of the borderlands, including not only the geographic United States-Mexico border but also the broader reach of transborder communities and networks, which span the United States and Mexico. In connecting the transnational drug economy, (para) militarization, domestic, and other forms of gendered violence, it illuminates the broader political, social, and economic context within which the potential and actual killing of individual women and gendered violence continues to occur.