From Cacao to Sugar: Long-Term Maya Economic Entanglement in Colonial Guatemala

Author(s): Guido Pezzarossi

Year: 2016


This paper explores highland Maya sugar production as a product of later colonial entanglement influenced by precolonial and early colonial innovations and traditions. In the mid-17th century, the colonial Kaqchikel Maya community of San Pedro Aguacatepeque is described as a producer of sugar. Hoewever, the community’s embrace of sugar cane production (and associated sugar products) emerged in a complicated manner: as a product of preexisting precolonial and early colonial cacao tribute cultivation practices and later exposure as coerced laborers in Spanish colonial sugar cane plantations. The transition to sugar cane must be placed within the social and material contexts of later colonial Guatemala that constrained and enabled Maya communities. By the time Aguacatepeque was producing sugar, sugar cane would not have been an introduced novelty of "contact", but rather a known entity framed by precolonial and early colonial practice as well as later colonial conditions, experiences, needs and desires. 

Cite this Record

From Cacao to Sugar: Long-Term Maya Economic Entanglement in Colonial Guatemala. Guido Pezzarossi. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434564)


Temporal Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 915