Vital Records and Landscape: Mobility, Family, and Commercial Agriculture at the Hacienda El Mirador, Veracruz, Mexico, 1830-1910
Author(s): William Werner
El Mirador was an expansive sugarcane and coffee estate established in the 1830s by European capital among a sparsely populated landscape of ranchers and smallholders in central Veracruz state, Mexico. Archaeological survey of the hacienda ‘s central processing facilities indicates the labor demands of the estate, while research into the civil and ecclesiastical records of births, marriages, and deaths among the resident workforce details the social and familial circumstances of these laborers. This paper considers how demographic data on population growth, geographic mobility, and age and sex ratios can be integrated into an archaeology of global capitalism. These patterns are understood to be the cumulative results of decision-making by individuals who strategically engaged with El Mirador’s enterprise, revealing both opportunities and constraints engendered by the expansion of commercial agriculture in the region. The impact of industrial sugar cane production on family structures is explored, as are the social transitions experienced during the late nineteenth-century shift in commercial emphasis to coffee. Reading the vital records with attention to the concrete space of El Mirador and its environs calls for an archaeological approach that interprets the hacienda as one among many nodes on a cultural landscape with a much broader reach.
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Vital Records and Landscape: Mobility, Family, and Commercial Agriculture at the Hacienda El Mirador, Veracruz, Mexico, 1830-1910. William Werner. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437346)