Anthropology and History in Yucatán is a collection of ten essays that offer new evidence and interpretations of the survival and adaptation of lowland Maya culture from its earliest contact with the Spanish to the 1970s. These case studies reflect a growing interest in the use of historical approaches in the development of models of cultural change that will integrate archaeological, historical, and ethnographic data.
The portrait of the Maya emerging from this collection is that of a remarkably vital people who have skillfully resisted total incorporation with their neighbors and who continue even today to emphasize their cultural independence and historical uniqueness. In his introduction, Grant D. Jones synthesizes previous studies of the anthropological history of Yucatán and summarizes the theoretical issues underlying the volume. Section I, which focuses on continuity and change in the boundaries of Maya ethnicity in Yucatán, includes contributions by the late Sir Eric Thompson, France V. Scholes, and O. Nigel Bolland. Section II presents comparative regional perspectives of Maya adaptations to external forces of change and contains essays by D. E. Dumond, Grant D. Jones, James W. Ryder, and Anne C. Collins. In the closing section, three articles, by Victoria Reifler Bricker, Allan F. Burns, and Irwin Press, treat Maya concepts of their own history.
Throughout the book, the authors demonstrate that models far more complex than Robert Redfield’s folk-urban continuum must be developed to account for the great regional variations in responses by the Maya to the pressures of economic, cultural, and political control as exerted by Spanish, Mexican, Guatemalan, and British authorities over the past four centuries. The essays demonstrate a variety of methodological approaches that will be of interest to historians, ethnohistorians, ethnologists, archaeologists, and those who have a general interest in the survival of Maya culture.