“Kray masterfully conducts a rich and detailed exploration of a part of the Caste War that has, until this point, inexplicably escaped thorough scholarly attention. The book’s insights on Western Belize and the San Pedro Maya are especially significant because most of the extant literature on the Caste War and its implications for Belize have remained focused on the northern border region.”
—Rajeshwari Dutt, Indian Institute of Technology Mandi
“A work of enormous value that focuses on the perspectives and experiences of the Maya people by giving priority to the scarce documents left by the Yucatec Mayas who inhabited the British dominions.”
—Juan Castillo Cocom, Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo
Maya-British Conflict at the Edge of the Yucatecan Caste War interrogates the 1862 alliance forged between the San Pedro Maya and the British during the Caste War of Yucatán (1847–1901). Illuminating the complex interactions among Maya groups, Yucatecans of Spanish descent, and British settlers in what is now Belize, Christine A. Kray uses storytelling techniques, suspense, and humor, via historical documents and oral history interviews to tell a new story about the dynamics at the heart of the Social War.
Official British declarations of neutrality in the Caste War were confounded by a variety of political and economic factors, including competing land claims befuddled by a tangled set of treaties, mahogany extraction by British companies in contested territories, Maya rent demands, British trade in munitions to different groups of Maya combatants, and a labor system reliant on debt servitude. All these factors contributed to uneasy alliances and opportunistic crossings of imagined geopolitical borders in both directions, ultimately leading to a new military conflict in the western and northern regions of the territory claimed by Britain. What frequently began as hyper-local disputes spun out into international affairs as actors called upon more powerful groups for assistance. Evading reductionism, this work traces the decisions and actions of key figures as they maneuvered through the miasma of violence, abuse, deception, fear, flight, and glimpses of freedom.
Positioning the historiographic and ethnographic gaze on the English side without adopting the colonialist narratives and objectives found in English repositories, Maya-British Conflict at the Edge of the Yucatecan Caste War is an important and original contribution to a neglected area of study. It will appeal to students, scholars, and general readers interested in anthropology, Latin American cultures and history, Central American history, British imperialism, Indigenous rights, political anthropology, and colonialism and culture.
The ebook edition will be made open access within three years of publication thanks to Path to Open, a program developed to bring about equitable access and impact for the entire scholarly community, including authors, researchers, libraries, and university presses around the world. Learn more