Land, Labor & Capital in Modern Yucatan: Essays in Regional History and Political Economy

Land, Labor & Capital in Modern Yucatan: Essays in Regional History and Political Economy

Land, Labor & Capital in Modern Yucatan: Essays in Regional History and Political Economy

Land, Labor & Capital in Modern Yucatan: Essays in Regional History and Political Economy

Excerpt

Interdisciplinary regional studies have been at the forefront of research in Mexican and Latin American history for over a decade, and work on Yucatán has been particularly abundant. Lured, perhaps, by the past glories of ancient Mayan civilization, its conquest by the Spaniards, the fierce resistance of the Maya to their Spanish and, later, Mexican rulers, and finally by the fabled riches of the henequen boom and its dramatic demise in the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution, historians (along with other social scientists) have made important contributions. This recent surge of interest in the Yucatecan past has been notably pronounced for the modern period (c. 1750-1940). Over the past five to ten years, the traditional political and institutional histories of the Caste War, henequen boom, and revolutionary eras have been superseded by an impressive harvest of monographs and articles on regional social and economic themes by an ever-widening circle of Mexican and international scholars.

Each of the ten chapters in this book, by an international cohort of U.S., Mexican, Canadian, and Belizean social scientists, taps new research on the political economy and agrarian history of the region; several suggest new thematic and methodological approaches to the study of Mexico at the subnational level. Adding to the uniqueness of the collection is its mix of contributions by well-established and younger scholars. The result is a perspective on regional historical development that is at once international, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational. The book demonstrates that if, in certain respects, Yucatán developed with a degree of autonomy unmatched elsewhere in Mexico, its historical experience also illuminates broader discussions of capitalist agricultural expansion and forms of peasant resistance, plantation monoculture and obstacles to regional development, and revolutionary mobilization and strategies of social change.

Finally, an effort has been made--both in the introduction by Joseph and more implicitly throughout the book--to grapple with certain neglected themes and conceptual problems that Latin America's "new re-

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