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Comparing Labor Regimes: Debt Peons in the Northeastern Yucatan versus Free Laborers in British Honduras

Author(s): John Gust

Year: 2017

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In this paper I compare the working conditions and cultural material found at a cluster of three sites in the northeast corner of the Mexican Yucatán Peninsula, to those at San Pedro Siris in the Cayo District of then British Honduras. The people in both areas contended with more militant Maya groups that were unhappy with improved relations with Mexican and British Honduran authorities respectively. Similar workplace dangers confronted both the lumber workers at San Pedro Siris and the sugar/rum workers in northeastern Yucatán. What was not shared by the two areas was how labor was organized. At the sites in the northeastern Yucatán, sugar/rum workers often had little to no land of their own, and it was common elsewhere in the Mexican Yucatán for laborers to accept becoming debt peons to gain access to farmland. The San Pedro Maya, including the inhabitants of San Pedro Siris, lived in free villages. They held, and jealously guarded, their own lands against interests of British logging companies. Thus, the sites in these two areas, the northeastern Yucatán and western British Honduras, provide a great opportunity for exploring similar groups of people with different levels of freedom to do as they chose.

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Comparing Labor Regimes: Debt Peons in the Northeastern Yucatan versus Free Laborers in British Honduras. John Gust. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431981)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15847

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America