Caitlin Baird is a graduate fellow in anthropology at the University of Florida and a Wuqu’ Kawoq volunteer. She has recently been awarded the Inter-American Foundation Grassroots Fellowship to complete her dissertation fieldwork. The IAF Grassroots is a competitive fellowship that focuses on projects that stress collaboration with the organized poor in Latin America and the Caribbean. This year, Caitlin was one of only 15 recipients nationwide.
Guatemala has one of the highest disparities in land ownership and household income in Latin America, and the results of these disparities are strongly demarcated along lines of race and ethnicity, with children from Mayan families experiencing higher rates of infant mortality as well as morbidity from chronic and infectious diseases. Even after accounting for socio-economic status, children from Mayan families are almost twice as likely to be stunted (chronically malnourished) than children from non-Mayan families. All available evidence strongly suggests that poverty alone cannot explain the disparities in health and infant nutrition between indigenous and non-indigenous Guatemalans; which calls for a more complex analysis of the structural factors influencing disparities in early childhood development.
Using her background and training in critical race feminism and the biomedical sciences, Caitlin plans on using a mixed-methods approach to explore the links between childhood stunting, maternal autonomy, and discrimination in health and healthcare in the hope that her research will prove useful to organizations like WK.