Consumption, Custom, and Control: Aguardiente in Nineteenth-Century Maya Guatemala

Stacey Schwartzkopf

in Distilling the Influence of Alcohol

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780813041629
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780813043432 | DOI:
Consumption, Custom, and Control: Aguardiente in Nineteenth-Century Maya Guatemala

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This chapter by Stacey Schwartzkopf discusses anthropological and historical approaches to indigenous alcohol use in Latin America, arguing for a cultural commodities perspective as the most productive. This perspective is then used to examine alcohol use among Maya peoples in Guatemala over time, with an emphasis on the nineteenth century. After a review of patterns of pre-colonial and colonial alcohol use, Schwartzkopf argues that aguardiente production and consumption occupied a central place in nineteenth-century Guatemalan political and economic life, as well as in the social and cultural life of Maya communities. Specific dimensions of alcohol use discussed include the key role of alcohol taxation in state financing, legal struggles over customary alcohol use in Maya communities, and its use in indigenous labor recruitment for export coffee production. Finally, this summary of Maya experiences is compared to that of other indigenous Latin American groups in central Mexico and in the Andes region.

Keywords: Indigenous alcohol use; Mayas; Guatemala; cultural commodities

Chapter.  9926 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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