Interethnic Mayan and Afro-descendent Relations through War, Trade, and Slavery during the Mayan Caste Wars, 1848-1901
The broader purpose of this paper is to contribute to an awareness of the cultural and social role of African descent peoples in the history of late colonial and nineteenth century Mexico. I specifically focus on the ethnic relations between African descent peoples and Mayans in communities of the Yucatán peninsula during the 1847 to 1901 guerras de casta or Caste Wars. This period offers unique insights to interethnic relations in a region and time where Indigenous peoples maintained autonomy from western powers, which influenced the parameters of the dynamic interactions between African descent and Native American peoples. I utilize quantitative and qualitative sources such as census data, court documents, newspaper articles, and ethnographic interviews that depict the social, political, and cultural context of the Yucatán peninsula. This essay reveals that Mayan and Afro-descendent trends originating in the colonial era continued into the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Thus, at no point in Mexican history did the influence of Afro-Latin American culture ever end. Instead, Afro-descendent peoples continue to contribute to Mexican cultures in coeval and interrelated courses of development with Native American and European cultural influence. Moreover, nineteenth century global migration trends contributed to even more diverse influences on Mexican cultural history.