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Empire on Edge
The British Struggle for Order in Belize during Yucatan's Caste War, 1847–1901


  • Date Published: March 2020
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108493420


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About the Authors
  • How does empire operate in frontiers and borderlands during times of conflict? Empire on Edge reveals how British officials attempted, during the second half of the nineteenth century, to understand and impose order on northern Belize, an area that was both a frontier of colonial power and the locus of a disputed border with Mexico. Their efforts were complicated by the local ramifications of Yucatán's Caste War (1847–1901), a long-lasting, violent struggle between segments of the indigenous Maya in southeast Mexico and the Mexican state. The book also illuminates how people who were subject to these efforts, especially the Hispanic and various Maya groups, sought to thwart them by building alliances across seemingly firm lines of racial and ethnic division. Along the way, important questions are raised about the dissonance between colonial and imperial projects, the nature of frontiers and borderlands, and the local effects of disputes between bordering countries.

    • Offers the first transnational study of how the Caste War of Yucatán transformed neighboring Belize
    • Allows readers to grapple with questions of colonialism, empire, conflict, ethnicity, and identity through an accessible and readable case study
    • Explores intersections between British imperial history and Latin American history
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Empire on Edge is a fresh look at nineteenth-century Belize, vividly portraying threats and opportunities connected with Yucatán's Caste War that sparked conflicts but also alliances across lines of empire, nation, race, and economic network. A welcome addition to scholarship on borderlands, migration, political belonging, and the contingency of imperial control.' Anne S. Macpherson, State University of New York

    'Surrounded by Central American neighbors almost constantly embroiled in civil wars, with borders disputed, Caste War rebels on its frontiers and thousands of Yucatecan Caste War refugees fundamentally altering its population structure, Belize faced serious challenges during the nineteenth century. In their attempts to ensure the territory's security against outside threats and inside dissent, the local colonial officials found little help in the imperial government in London, who were reluctant to send troops and spend significant amounts of money for the defense of a colonial backwater. Dutt's Empire on Edge skillfully highlights the intricacies of colonial rule on the edge of empire and enriches the historiography of a hitherto understudied country.' Wolfgang Gabbert, author of Violence and the Caste War of Yucatán

    'Empire on Edge is a remarkable book, well written and engaging, that might be of interest to specialists in this understudied country and to those interested in the history of colonial governance, borderland conflicts, refugees' culture, and diplomatic relations.' David Pretel, Hispanic American Historical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2020
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108493420
    • length: 198 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 159 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.42kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Business as usual
    2. Ungoverned passions
    3. Costs of protection
    4. Uneasy alliances
    5. The enemy within
    6. Loyal subjects

  • Author

    Rajeshwari Dutt, Indian Institute of Technology, Mandi
    Rajeshwari Dutt is Assistant Professor in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology, Mandi. She is the author of Maya Caciques in Early National Yucatán (2017).

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