By David Pretel

This article provides an environmental history of indigenous resistance during the Caste War, a major Indian revolt that took place in the Yucatán peninsula between 1847 and 1901. It argues that the evolution of the war was bound to the material conditions of the vast Maya rainforest and the expanding built environment at this area’s commodity frontiers. In this regard, the article advances two main theses. First, that the Maya rainforest was an ideal battleground for the insurgents’ guerrilla warfare but extremely challenging for regular military columns. Second, that indigenous subversion and survival rested on both commodity extraction and everyday agricultural practices carried out in the forest. In short, indigenous resistance was built on the ecology and geography of the rainforest at the contested interstices of empires and nations.

keywords: Frontier, Commodities, Resistance, Caste War, Tropical Forest, Maya People, Yucatán peninsula