Booms, Busts, and Changing (Anti)Market Engagement in Pacific piedmont Guatemala

Author(s): Guido Pezzarossi; Luisa Escobar

Year: 2015


Located in the cacao-rich Pacific piedmont region of Guatemala, the colonial period Kaqchikel Maya community of San Pedro Aguacatepeque produced cacao for the Iximche Kaqchikel polity prior to colonization. With the 16th century global cacao boom that followed Spanish colonization, cacao producing communities in the region became critical sources of this increasingly desired regional and global exchange good. The bust of the global cacao market in the latter part of the century, coupled with increasing depopulation and the impact of colonial antimarket effects (i.e. unequal, exploitative exchanges underwritten by power disparities) led to the decline of cacao production, the abandonment of formerly thriving communities and the emergence of new opportunities and modalities of market engagement and economic mobility for individuals and communities in the region. This paper focuses on how Aguacatepeque navigated these booms and busts through a transformation of production away from cacao and towards the market oriented production of sugar cane, and sugar-based products, both legal and illegal/illicit. This transformation in production brought with it a shift in consumption as market dependence for craft goods intensified, redirecting the majority of Aguacatepeque’s time, labor and land use toward globally connected regional Spanish colonial (anti)markets and their broader economic networks.

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Cite this Record

Booms, Busts, and Changing (Anti)Market Engagement in Pacific piedmont Guatemala. Luisa Escobar, Guido Pezzarossi. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395182)


Colonialism Market Maya

Geographic Keywords
Central America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.702; min lat: 6.665 ; max long: -76.685; max lat: 18.813 ;