“Me Gusta”: The Changing Role of Lacandon Maya Homegardens in Lake Mensabak, Chiapas, Mexico

WYATT, Andrew R. - Middle Tennessee State University

For the past three centuries the Lacandon Maya have led an isolated existence in the forests of southern Mexico, managing extensively cultivated outfields and intensively managed infield gardens. Lacandon household gardens supplied items for household use and trade, whereas outfields supplied staple foods. Recently, increased interaction with Mexican society has resulting in dramatic culture change. Systems of status and hierarchy are being reconfigured as the Lacandon become integrated with the Mexican and global economy. This talk discusses the results of ongoing fieldwork in the Lacandon Maya village of Lake Mensabak in Chiapas, Mexico and addresses the role of household gardens in a changing community. We are creating digitized maps of Lake Mensabak gardens by plotting the locations of each plant and tree, creating a more accurate accounting of the total cultigens and their precise location in relation to the household, and also providing a means of analyzing the use of garden space throughout the community. Combining these maps with ethnographic interviews, we are developing a clearer understanding of how Lacandon gardens operate in a dynamic community.