Fallen Uterus: Social Suffering, Bodily Vigor, and Social Support among Women in Rural Mexico


This article focuses on rural indigenous Mexican women’s experiences with uterine prolapse, particularly the illness’s expression of social suffering. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted during 2004–2005 and 2007 in a Nahua village in the state of Veracruz, the article analyzes the multifactorial nature of women’s social suffering. Results show that the roots of uterine displacement for the women lie in lack of social relations and in perceptions of bodily vigor. Additionally, inequality present in the women’s interactions with mainstream Mexico brings into focus the larger structural factors that shape their reproductive health. The implications of research on the effect of social support on women’s embodiment of social suffering can extend beyond one illness, linking it to broader issues shaping the health of marginalized populations.

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