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Violence and the Caste War of Yucatán
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Expected online publication date: August 2019
  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online ISBN: 9781108666930

Book description

Violence and The Caste War of Yucatán analyzes the extent and forms of violence employed during one of the most significant indigenous rural revolts in nineteenth-century Latin America: the Caste War of Yucatán in the tropical southeast of Mexico. Combining the results of historical, anthropological, and sociological research with the thorough investigation of primary sources from numerous archives, the book ascertains that violence was neither random nor the result of individual bloodthirstiness but in many cases followed specific patterns related to demographic, economic, political, and military factors. In addition to its use against the enemy, violence also played a role in the establishment and maintenance of order and leadership within the ranks of the contending parties. While the Caste War has been widely considered a conflict between the whites and the Maya, this book shows that Indians and non-Indians fought and died on both sides.


‘Gabbert's empirically grounded, rigorous analysis of Yucatán's Caste War sets a new standard for the historical sociology of violence. This sterling monograph reveals a conflict driven principally by violence entrepreneurs on both the state and rebel side. These actors were motivated mainly by a ‘war economy' based on raiding for spoils, and resorted to coercion to enforce their authority. Seen in this light, Yucatán's epic conflict resembled contemporary, low-intensity conflicts much more than a millennial event, ethnic revitalization movement, or racial struggle.'

Ben Fallaw - Colby College, Maine

‘The Yucatán Caste War was one of the most significant events in Mexico's nation-building during the nineteenth century. Wolfgang Gabbert brings meticulous scholarship – in depth and in scope – to challenge some long held ideas: that it was a conflict based on race; that economic and social factors were its primary cause; that the ‘barbarian Indian' was predisposed to violence; that this war was the most violent of wars in Mexico's century of wars. In this he succeeds brilliantly.'

Barbara Bulmer-Thomas - author of The Economic History of Belize: From the 17th Century to Post-Independence


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