A new doctoral dissertation of note: “Invaders, explorers and travelers: Everyday life in Yucatán from another perspective, 1834-1906” by Dr. Lorena Careaga. Careaga, a professor and director of the library at the Universidad del Caribe in Yucatán, recently completed a multi-year study of how life was lived in Yucatán, Mexico during the Caste War that pitted the Maya against the central government of Mexico for more than a half century.
Lorena Careaga, “Invasores, exploradores y viajeros: la vida cotidiana en Yucatán desde la óptica del otro, 1834-1906” [“Invaders, explorers and travelers: Everyday life in Yucatán from another perspective, 1834-1906”], Ph.D. Dissertation, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, México, February 2015.
This doctoral dissertation summarizes and critically reviews the life and work of 30 men and 3 women from outside of Mexico who traveled through Yucatán between 1834 and 1906 as explorers, expeditionary photographers, war correspondents, mercenaries, government representatives, military officers, merchants, artists and naturalists, and who left published accounts of their travels, as well as their personal appraisal of everyday life during the revolt of the Maya against the government of Mexico called the Caste War of Yucatán. The dissertation also assesses the contribution of nineteenth century travelers in Yucatán to the then developing fields of archaeology, anthropology with special emphasis on Maya ethnography.
While there are numerous studies about nineteenth century foreign travelers to Mexico, in the case of the Yucatán Peninsula this dissertation fills two important research gaps. The first is travelers’ reports of everyday life in general, and in particular, how life was lived during the Caste War while under a permanent threat of attack. Analyzed and placed in historical context are travelers’ first hand descriptions of everyday life in times of conflict, and the effects of warfare on Yucatecan life.
Secondly, most bibliographic compilations list only fifteen foreign travelers to the Yucatán Peninsula from 1834 to 1906. Some important observers were left out because their theories and opinions were considered unacceptable, and others were overlooked because their writings were not translated. This dissertation presents a comprehensive and systematic study of all thirty-three foreign travelers.
Finally, Careaga compares and contrasts photographs, drawings, maps, engravings, vocabularies, and other documentary materials produced by travelers, explorers, and expeditionary photographers, and assesses their contribution to our knowledge of life in Yucatán during this period of revolutionary conflict.