The Maya world: Yucatec culture and society, 1550-1850

Research output: Book/ReportBook

278 Scopus citations


The historiogeographical roots of this book, are twofold. One is Roys, whose translation and tentative analysis of colonial-era Maya documentation threw out a challenge picked up by Thompson, who applied with fruitful rigor an anthropological methodology to the corpus of Maya notarial material from Tekanto. The other is Lockhart, who led the historical literature on central Mexico toward what he has called a New Philology. This recent 'vein of ethnohistory' is characterized primarily by its foundation upon indigenous-language sources. The development of this school from the social history of the late 1960's and early 1970's represents a shift of emphasis from 'establishing patterns through synthesis of the diverse action of individuals and small organizations' to paying 'attention to key concepts appearing as words and phrases in the sources relating to those individuals and organizations'. Part one of this book introduces and defines the key concepts of the cah and the chibal, before turning to the political manifestations of organization and identity in cah society. Part two explores the ways in which cah members were differentiated from each other, in terms of status, gender, inheritance practices, and daily life; these internal boundaries are also examined and modified with respect to the function of sexual attitudes and religious expectations in cah culture. Part three discusses the ways in which the Maya perceived, acquired, and parted with land and other material items, with some context provided by a look at patterns of settlement and land use. Part four is a more conscious analysis of the Maya-language sources of the book, including a presentation of both general characteristics and some specific genres, complemented by a study of the written use of the Maya language in the colonial period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherStanford University Press, CA
ISBN (Print)0804727457
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • General Environmental Science


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