The Two Milpas of Chan Kom

Scenarios of a Maya Village Life

By Alicia Re Cruz

Subjects: Social And Cultural History
Series: SUNY series in the Anthropology of Work
Paperback : 9780791428306, 216 pages, March 1996
Hardcover : 9780791428290, 216 pages, March 1996

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

List of Figures


1. A Community "In Crisis"

2. Community, Ethnographer and the Ethnography: A Search for Models

3. The Political Era: Modern Times and the Winds of Transformation

4. One Community and Two Worlds

5. From Milperío to Pueblo

6. Social Diversity in Chan Kom's Milpas

7. Images of a Maya Community in the Postmodern World

8. Conclusion: No Hay Novedad





An ethnographic account of Chan Kom, a contemporary Maya community in Yucatan, Mexico that focuses on the social schism within the community resulting from an accelerated process of migration to Cancun, a major tourist center.


Chan Kom is a Maya community in the Yucatán peninsula that is currently undergoing a process of transformation due to increasing migration to Cancún, Mexico. The author demonstrates the significance of the Mayas' socio-economic and ideological strategies to adapt to the changes brought about by this migration.

Alicia Re Cruz is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Texas.


"The main topics fall within current anthropological research: migration, factionalism, symbolic systems, and the political economy of Mexico. The conclusions about the shifting pattern of factionalism and the use of gossip and characterization by people at different levels of factional structures in the community are well supported.

"The author is able to portray both a great respect and, at the same time, an enthusiastic, sometimes slightly bemused attitude toward the village and the villagers. In this sense, the book stands out as having literary qualities that are not often seen in many anthropological works.

"An especially fine feature of the book is the way in which the author places herself in the midst of the analysis. Another excellent feature is the way in which she is able to mix issues of political economy with the ideology of everyday conversations, rituals, and ceremonies. The inclusion of the experience of villagers as they work in the resort of Cancún makes this a very current and useful work.

"The combination of a perspective grounded in political economy and the economic analysis of family production strategies with a careful look at how these are molded and given meaning through symbolic activities such as ceremonies and gossip is a strength of this book. Likewise, the author provides many insights into the values associated with peasant agriculture gained through her own participation in milpa work. " — Allan Burns, University of Florida