The Yucatec Maya Frontier and Maya Women: Tenacity of Tradition and Tragedy of Transformation1

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Abstract

This study explores strategies of household management taken by Yucatec Maya women of different ages, in different families, and by their husbands who were involved in an array of life choices over a ten-year period. Field research was conducted at Coba, Quintana Roo, Yucatan between 1975 and 1985. The research revealed considerable variation in female status and role as well as differential and complementary male-female relations. The analysis concludes that women have represented a crucial element in traditional Maya culture and play a significant role in the modern transformation of Maya society and values. The analysis suggests that “penny capitalism” practiced by Yucatec Maya women may be of critical value in the preservation and/or transformation of Yucatec Maya culture.

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