Consuming the Maya : an ethnography of eating and being in the land of the Caste Wars



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This dissertation is an ethnographic work describing how foodways have become central to identity negotiation in a Maya village that has recently been impacted by evangelical conversion and tourism. This village is in the region of Quintana Roo, Mexico best known for its involvement in the Caste Wars of Yucatán and historic resistance to assimilation to Mexican identity. However, in recent years, the demand for inexpensive labor in the hotel zone of the Caribbean coast of Quintana Roo has led to improved infrastructure and transportation to these villages. With this improved infrastructure has come increased outside interaction including the establishment of evangelical churches and day labor buses. These combined influences of religion and labor changes have led to new ways of negotiating identity that had not previously existed in village life here. Because life in this village had always centered on subsistence farming and its associated food getting and food making tasks, the option for wage labor and evangelical religion have provided a support system for those unable or unwilling to participate in traditional forms of subsistence. The new social structures are often negotiated using food and foodways as a declaration of belonging or resistance. My work provides vignettes describing these processes of identity negotiation at the national, regional and familial levels.