My dissertation examines how indigenous, rural, and urban Oaxacans’ upbringings and migration experience influence their perceptions of and responses to emotional injury. In addition to highlighting the impact of social forces on Oaxacans’ mental health, as other scholars have, I analyze the emotional pains of indigenous Oaxacans from an emic point of view, one that incorporates their knowledge production. My dissertation research addresses the multi-layered interpretations of Zapotec and Mixtec communities’ own words, embodiments, and processes for discussing trauma, profound sadness, susto (fright), and healing processes as it relates to social, economic, and global changes.
My dissertation addresses the following questions: How do Oaxacans, specifically those with Zapotec or Mixtec background, define and interpret emotional pain, such as profound sadness and susto, and emotional healing? How do Oaxacans conceptualize injury and inequality? Specifically, how do they connect emotional pain to migration and the inequalities their communities encounter? And lastly, what do Oaxacan communities do to alleviate emotional distress resulting from migration and social disparities? Using an intersectional analysis, I compare and analyze how age, interculturality, religion, gender, and ethnic identity influence the way Oaxacans respond to these questions.