Date of Award

Winter 12-8-2020

Semester of Degree


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. in Environmental Science


Environmental Science, Division of

Major Professor

Stewart Diemont

Steering Committee Member

Theresa Selfa

Steering Committee Member

Helda Morales

Steering Committee Member

Alejandro Casas


Women’s knowledge and work in agroforestry food systems is poorly represented in the literature. I investigated women’s role in the food system, their relationship to food, and how Lacandon Maya women manage the landscape in Lacanja Chansayab, Mexico. Qualitative research included interviews and participant observation. Quantitative research included plant community surveys of plots managed by women and men. Women’s roles in food systems are central; they transform ingredients into meals and for agroforestry management. They express their relationship to food as a source of empowerment, as memory, a relationship to non-humans, and as a source of discrimination. No differences were found in terms of diversity and richness of ethnotaxons in agroforestry systems by gender. However, composition of ethnotaxons differs, a difference driven by the amount of maize, squash and disservice plants. This difference corresponds to unique management techniques. Women are producing and conserving diverse landscapes and diets in Lacanja Chansayab.