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Yaxcabá and the Caste War of Yucatán

An Archaeological Perspective

Rani T. Alexander

Publication Year: 2004

Rani Alexander's study of the Caste War of Yucatan (1847-1901) uses archaeological evidence, ethnography, and history to explore the region's processes of resistance.

Published by: University of New Mexico Press


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Title page

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p. v

List of Figures

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p. vi

List of Tables

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p. vii

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pp. ix-xii

At that time the project’s objectives were to acquire a greater understanding of the tenth- and eleventh-century conflicts that occurred between the city of Chichén Itzá and its east-coast rival, Cobá. The site of Yaxuná is connected to Cobá via a 60-km-long causeway, yet it is actually closer to Chichén, an observation that has led to archaeological speculation about the competitive relationship between the two centers. Ethnohistorians identify the site of Yaxuná with a place called Cetelac mentioned in the ...

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pp. xiii-15

The archaeological and archival research for this project was funded by grants from the National Science Foundation (BNS-8813858), the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (Gr #5089 and Gr #6404), the Organization of American States,Tinker-Mellon Field Research Grants of the Latin American Institute,University of New Mexico, and Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research. Permission to conduct this investigation was granted by the Consejo de Arqueolog

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1. Legacies of Resistance

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pp. 1-14

To get there, one takes the old highway from Mérida heading toward Chichén Itzá, and turns south at Libre Unión. Farther down the road another 18 km, a new school and some industrial-size speed bumps greet one’s arrival. During the day, the central square with its benches and shade trees is usually deserted; activity is invariably low-key as people go about their business. A large cenote, ...

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2. Agrarian Change and the Caste War

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pp. 15-36

He argued that the hallmarks of the progressive agenda, namely a cultural and literary renaissance, secularized thought, a move toward political autonomy, the assertion of civil over ecclesiastical authority, and the expansion of a hacienda economy based on sugar, cattle, and henequen, entailed other rural changes (Cline 1947:659). These included difficulties in controlling and stabilizing a relatively mobile agricultural labor ...

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3. The Political Economy of Yaxcab

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pp. 37-68

The conquest had been a more protracted and less lucrative endeavor than most colonizers admitted (Restall 1998). The declining Maya population and the tendency for flight beyond the boundaries of the colonial system effectively limited profits, and both the church and the crown encountered difficulty in extracting sufficient labor and resources from the ...

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4. Archaeological Settlement Patterns

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pp. 69-116

Archaeologists commonly approach questions about changing political and economic hierarchy, population density, land use, and subsistence stress by comparing the distributions of different kinds of sites to their ecological setting.When settlement pattern research is applied to historical periods, however, we frequently find that archaeology and history do not tell the same story. An ...

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5. Archaeological Site Structure before the Caste War

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pp. 117-150

The redundant sets of activities regularly performed by household members in the course of their daily work leave a mark in the archaeological record, such that they can be detected through site structural analysis. Site structure refers to the study of spatial patterns among artifacts, ecofacts, features, and structures on archaeological sites (Binford 1987, 2001; Clarke 1977). Residential site structure ...

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6. Yaxcab

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pp. 151-163

Modern scholarship suggests the Caste War was not a unitary response to an imposed progressive agenda that drastically altered agricultural production, land use, and ethnic and class relations in the early nineteenth century.Nor was the conflict a grassroots phenomenon supported by all Maya. In northwestern Yucat


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pp. 163-168


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pp. 169-182

Works Cited

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pp. 183-200


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pp. 201-207

E-ISBN-13: 9780826329660
E-ISBN-10: 0826329667
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826329622
Print-ISBN-10: 0826329624

Page Count: 223
Illustrations: 22 halftones, 7 maps
Publication Year: 2004

OCLC Number: 779182813
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Yaxcabá and the Caste War of Yucatán

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Mayas -- Mexico -- Yaxcabá -- History -- 19th century.
  • Mayas -- Mexico -- Yaxcabá -- Antiquities.
  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- Mexico -- Yaxcabá.
  • Ethnoarchaeology -- Mexico -- Yaxcabá.
  • Yucatán (Mexico : State) -- History -- Caste War, 1847-1855.
  • Yaxcabá (Mexico) -- Politics and government.
  • Yaxcabá (Mexico) -- History -- 19th century.
  • Yaxcabá (Mexico) -- Antiquities.
  • Mexico -- History -- Spanish colony, 1540-1810.
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