Mexico: Cultural Ecology and the Ejido system in Yucatan
Patti McGill Peterson Center for International and Intercultural Studies
Instructor: Dr. Martha Chew Sánchez
Dates: June 7 - 22
Costs: $4,800 + airfare
Listing: GS 247/CLAS 247/NAS 247/ SPAN 247
Units: 1 SLU Unit/3.6 Credits
Course Description: The Yucatan peninsula of Mexico is best known as the land of the ancient Maya who, have inhabited a quite fragile ecological region for over 3000 years. This course will explore the cultural ecology of the present-day Yucatec Maya, their adaptation to a unique tropical forest environment, and their links to a still little-understood past involving environmental change. Some of the questions that are going to be examined in this course are: How have past dynamics of settlement and natural resource use by the Maya influenced the present environment of Yucatan? What is the role of the ejido, community land, in their social, political, and religious life and also in protecting the biodiversity of the area? What role does biodiversity play in the stability and productivity of traditional Mayan agriculture and household subsistence? How is the sustainability of present-day Maya farming affected by regional development like tourism and other patterns of cultural and economic change?A special note regarding safety in the Yucatan Peninsula:
The Yucatan region has largely managed to escape the violence associated with the drug trade in other parts of the nation. The drug violence has hit Mexico’s northern border states. There might be occasional military checkpoints as one is leaving the main cities by road. There are no reports of tourists in the Yucatan area being affected by drug trafficking in the region. However, if people take the same precautionary steps one would in other big city, one is going to be safe.
Dangers are few. Violent crime in the Yucatán Peninsula is extremely rare; in fact residents pride themselves on the safety record of their neighborhoods and streets. Theft in big cities like Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Merida does occasionally occur, usually in very crowded areas, such as busy markets.