Volume 62, Number 4, Abstracts

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Maya Settlement Shifts and Agrarian Ecology in Yucatán, 1800–2000

Rani T. Alexander
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, New Mexico State University

Scholars attribute the persistence of “traditional” Maya agriculture on the Yucatán peninsula to patterns of dispersal, drift, and flight, which allowed farmers to maintain productivity and to resist the worst exigencies of the colonial and nationalist regimes. In this paper, I explore the material consequences of Maya mobility tactics in Yaxcabá, Yucatán. Using documentary and archaeological evidence, I argue that land reform policies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries systemically altered Maya mobility, thereby reshaping the cultural landscape. Changes in settlement systems and archaeological site structure reveal a dynamic rather than “tradition-bound” agrarian ecology, responsive to shifts in the global economy.

KEY WORDS: Maya agriculture; Settlement mobility; Yucatán (Mexico)

A Reappraisal of Ancient Maya Cave Mining

James E. Brady
Department of Anthropology, California State University, Los Angeles

Dominique Rissolo
Waitt Institute for Discovery

Throughout the world caves are often important sacred landmarks whose dark zones tend to be restricted spaces reserved for religious rituals. The function and meaning of activities conducted within these spaces are categorically different than physically similar activities conducted at the surface. Archaeology has been slow to integrate this fact into the analysis of cave features. Recently discovered evidence of extractive activities within Maya caves allows us to reevaluate previous work on cave mines. We suggest that the extraction was always small in scale and that the material extracted was most likely used in ritual. We then examine several surface mines where tunnel mining was used to extract a relatively undifferentiated matrix. Evidence suggests that a prime concern in the excavation was the creation of an artificial cave.

KEY WORDS: Cave mining; Caves; Geophagy; Maya cave use

Oaxacan Wood Carvings in the World of Fine Art: Aesthetic Judgments of a Tourist Craft

Michael Chibnik
Department of Anthropology, University of Iowa

In recent years, certain ethnic and tourist arts have become highly valued by collectors, gallery owners, and museum curators in the United States, Canada, and Europe. This paper examines the extent to which economically successful woodcarvers in the Mexican state of Oaxaca have been able to gain the attention of the gatekeepers and tastemakers of the art world. The woodcarvers confront formidable obstacles in their efforts to have their work accepted as fine art. The recent invention of Oaxacan wood carving may make the craft seem inauthentic. Because carvings are usually made by a group of related family members, even some of the most aesthetically pleasing pieces cannot be attributed to an individual artist. The relatively low standard of living of most woodcarvers prevents them from adopting an “art for art’s sake” philosophy emphasizing experimentation, originality, and lack of concern for commercial possibilities.

KEY WORDS: Art; Aesthetics; Economics; Networks; Oaxaca; Wood carvings

The Role of Gender in the Adoption of Agriculture in the Southern Southwest

Barbara J. Roth
Department of Anthropology and Ethnic Studies, University of Nevada

The transition from hunting and gathering to farming is considered to be one of the major behavioral changes that occurred in prehistory. Recently, researchers in the American Southwest have recognized that the adoption of agriculture by hunter-gatherers was part of a complex decision-making process. In this paper, I argue that one of the ways to get at the “how” and “why” of the adoption of agriculture is to start by looking at who did the adopting. Using ethnographic data from hunter-gatherers and farmers in arid lands and data from recent excavations at early farming villages on the floodplain of the Santa Cruz River, I explore the idea that gender was a critical variable in the decision-making process leading to the adoption of agriculture in the southern Southwest.

KEY WORDS: Agricultural transition; American Southwestern Archaic; Gender studies; Hunter-gatherers

Transnational Spaces through Local Places: Mexican Immigrants in Albuquerque (New Mexico)

Cristóbal Mendoza
Dpto. de Sociología, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Iztapalapa, San Rafael

Even though a large part of empirical research has focused on particular localities, literature on transnational migration has neglected the role of place in the construction or permanence oftransnational ties between Mexico and the United States. This article explores how relevant the place (i.e., constructions and representations of places, as well as developing a sense of place) is to understanding migration processes and decisions among Mexican immigrants in Albuquerque (New Mexico). Methodologically, the article is based on qualitative research in the Mexican community in Albuquerque, and it focuses on analysis of immigrants’ mental maps and spatial discourses. The article concludes that immigrants identify with places at macro (national) as well as micro levels. At the macro level, ideas on Mexico and the United States are key to understanding immigrants’ intentions regarding length of stay. Yet the strongest senses of place are found at the micro level. Here, identification with public spaces is associated with radical changes in the immigrants’ lives.

KEY WORDS: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Mexican migration; Mexico; Place; Sense of place; Transnational migration; USA

Book Reviews  


Colin P. Groves: The Red Ape: Orangutans and Human Origins, Revised and Updated
by Jeffrey H. Schwartz

Lawrence G. Straus: Los Grabados Levantinos del Barranco Hondo
by Castellote (Teruel), Pilar Utrilla and Valentín Villaverde, eds.

Marilyn A. Masson: The Postclassic to Spanish-Era Transition in Mesoamerica: Archaeological Perspectives
by Susan Kepecs and Rani T. Alexander, eds.

Judith Francis Zeitlin: Unconquered Lacandon Maya: Ethnohistory and Archaeology of Indigenous Culture Change
by Joel W. Palka

Rani T. Alexander: Animals and the Maya in Southeast Mexico
by E. N. Anderson and Felix Medina Tzuc

Severin Fowles: A Space Syntax Analysis of Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, New Mexico: Community Formation in the Northern Rio Grande
by Jason S. Shapiro

Jack M. Broughton: Camels Back Cave
by Dave N. Schmitt and David B. Madsen, eds.

Dell Upton: Structure and Meaning in Human Settlements
by Tony Atkin and Joseph Rykwert, eds.

Keith Brown: Cultural Intimacy: Social Poetics in the Nation-State
by Michael Herzfeld

Gary H. Gossen: Maya Intellectual Renaissance: Identity, Representation, and Leadership
by Victor Montejo

Frances F. Berdan: Feather Crown: The Eighteen Feasts of the Mexica Year
by Gordon Brotherston

Cynthia Radding: Usos del Documento y Cambios Sociales en la Historia de Bolivia
by Clara López Beltrán and Akira Saito, eds.

Diane Nelson: Intercultural Utopias: Public Intellectuals, Cultural Experimentation, and Ethnic Pluralism in Colombia
by Joanne Rappaport

Alcida Rita Ramos: Ruins of Absence, Presence of Caribs: (Post)Colonial Representations of Aboriginality in Trinidad and Tobago
by Maximilian C. Forte

Thomas B. Stevenson: Yemen Chronicle: An Anthropology of War and Mediation
by Steven C. Caton

Hilary Scothorn: Pacific Pattern
by Susanne Küchler and Graeme Were

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