By David Pretel

This article considers the evolution of natural resource frontiers in the Caribbean from the perspective of the history of technology —specifically the changing relations between technological change and the life cycles of commodities between the mid-nineteenth century and the Second World War. Drawing on the cases of three basic resources produced in the Maya-populated Yucatán peninsula —logwood, henequen and chicle— it offers an account of the rise and decline of global commodities. The article contends that the shifting trends of production, trade and consumption of these raw materials were primarily determined by the historical interplay of global technologies, local knowledge and practices, and environmental conditions of production.