Institute for Global Health


Structural vulnerabilities and maternal health among Mexican indigenous populations

structural vulnerabilities mexico

Project Summary

This research project asks 'How social and structural inequalities operate both symbolically and through everyday activities to put people more at risk'.

To answer this we are conducting an in-depth study of maternal and child health in Mexican indigenous communities from the position of Structural Violence, a concept that refers to the social structures that put individuals and populations in harm's way. Using ethnography we will explore how social, cultural, economic and political structures operate to as a wider 'risk environment', that precedes individual decision making processes and behaviour. 

This research and its linked intervention is taking place in indigenous Huichol communities of Jalisco in Northwestern Mexico. These communities are among the most highly marginalised regions of Mexico with one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the country.

We began with a comprehensive review of research on structural violence relating to women's reproductive health though which we identified a specific set of 'structural' risk factors and mechanisms. The field based element of this research will centre on a longitudinal study of at least thirty pregnant women. 

The project is working on collaboration with the communities and several institutions to develop appropriate local and structural interventions.

Links to other research

Other research from IGH in Mexico