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Violence and the Caste War of Yucatán


Part of Cambridge Latin American Studies

  • Date Published: August 2021
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108740654

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • Links studies of the Caste War to the anthropology and sociology of violence and war
    • Draws on a variety of primary sources from the war and its indigenous and European-descended combatants
    • Examines both the structural features of political, society, and the economy and the situational factors that facilitated the use of violence within and between the Mayans and Yucateros
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '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

    'Gabbert has scoured an enormous range of obscure, hard-to-find sources … producing a major study on the details of civil war, and thus a very important contribution to the literature on war and violence.' E. N. Anderson, Choice

    'Combining rigorous historical scholarship with theoretical insights from anthropology and sociology, Wolfgang Gabbert's latest monograph undoubtedly ranks … among the most comprehensive and balanced treatments of Yucatán's Caste War.' Rajeshwari Dutt, The Americas

    '… the book is a meticulously researched aggregation of archival data that rearticulates the war in a way that destabilizes its exceptionalism and complicates the essentialism of prevailing narratives. Any scholar of the longue durée of political violence will likely find the book deeply engaging.' Tiffany C. Fryer, Hispanic American Historical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2021
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108740654
    • length: 358 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.556kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    Introduction: Caste War violence – prospect and state of the art
    Part I. Violence and War:
    1. Violence in anthropological and sociological perspective
    2. Violence in organized groups
    Part II. Violence in Yucatán Before and Beyond the Caste War, 1821–1901:
    3. The context
    4. Misery and everyday violence – lower-class rural life
    5. Political violence before and beyond the Caste War
    Part III. The Caste War and Violence, an Overview:
    6. The beginnings
    7. A war of attrition
    8. Rebel consolidation
    9. The end of rebel autonomy
    Part IV. Violence and Government Forces:
    10. Government forces
    11. Violence and suffering within the government forces
    12. Violence by government forces against others
    Part V. Violence and the Kruso'b:
    13. The social composition of the rebel movement
    14. Of loot and lumber – the Kruso'b economy
    15. Kruso'b politics and religion
    16. Violence among the Kruso'b
    17. Kruso'b violence against outsiders
    Part VI. Intricacies of Caste War Violence:
    18. Civil war, ideology and motivation
    19. Kruso'b and soldiers – parallels and contrasts
    20. Caste War casualties
    21. The Caste War in broader perspective
    Appendix 1. Rebel attacks
    Appendix 2. Army attacks
    Appendix 3. Kruso'b attacks on Pacíficos.

  • Author

    Wolfgang Gabbert, Leibniz Universität Hannover
    Wolfgang Gabbert is Professor of Development Sociology and Cultural Anthropology at the Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany. He is the author Becoming Maya: Ethnicity and Social Inequality in Yucatán since 1500 (2004) and Creoles: Afroamerikaner im karibischen Tiefland von Nicaragua (1992).

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